In July of 2019, The Biden Cancer Initiative suspended operations, citing ethical precaution as the reason. Joe Biden was preparing his 2020 presidential campaign and feared that the foundation would receive heavy scrutiny. Recent revelations show that this fear was well-founded.
Administrative Bloat, Corporate Donors, and Very Little Money for Cancer
The title above sums up the suspicious nature of the Biden Cancer Initiative (BCI). Much like the accusations levied at the Donald J Trump Foundation and the infamous Clinton Foundation, the BCI appears to have been a vehicle for graft and political influence. Though inspired by the loss of his son Beau to cancer, the organization seems to fall short of its stated goals. Its paper trail and donor profile paint a picture of an organization tied to a powerful name, used to extract millions in charitable donations and sell political favors.
As one may expect, the first red flag in the Biden Cancer Initiative is the very little money that actually went toward cancer research. The organization has spent two-thirds of its total donations on administrative costs and staff compensation. This shows a staggering figure compared to most charities.
Since its start in 2017, the BCI received nearly $5 million total funds as donations. Of that amount, 65% went to exorbitant staffing costs, including over a million dollars’ executive salaries. Also, a whopping $740,000 was spent on conferences and meetings.
CEO Greg Simon received about $650k over the two years, almost 40% of what went to cancer research. Simon, a former lobbyist for energy and biotechnology industries, was a key figure during the Obama Administration’s Cancer Moonshot Task Force. Biden oversaw the task force to accelerate cancer research and expand treatment options.
Today, Simon works to raise money for Biden’s campaign. He also headed a surrogate fundraiser in February 2020 for the Biden Campaign.
Concerns over Corporate Donors
Most of this money was provided by donations from wealthy healthcare companies. Such companies make an effort to maintain influence through powerful lobbies and relationships with organizations such as these. These obvious ties to private interests form a part of Biden’s reason to pause the organization’s activities during his campaign.
As AP reported, Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at New York University, addressed the obvious problem with the charity’s model of corporate donations and high executive salaries. The model raises concerns over whether a “Biden Administration would give favorable treatment for anyone who supported his foundation in the past,” said Caplan.
Ineffective at Best, Corrupt at Worst
Joe Biden wanted to take the focus off of the organization for good reason. Not least of its problems, the charity actually spent very little of its donated money on real research. During its two years of operations, only $1.7 million of the $4.8 million in donations actually made it to real cancer research expenses. Most of the remaining money went toward, by nonprofit standards, extravagantly high salaries.
The amount the charity spent on cancer is embarrassingly low, especially when you consider the salary of just one executive. Mr. Simon, just one member of the charity’s executive team, made forty cents for every dollar spent on cancer research.
As the Biden Campaign releases more details of the charity’s operations, the former vice president may soon suffer the scrutiny he was hoping to avoid.