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Biden cancer nonprofit paid millions to top executives before shuttering


The Biden Cancer Initiative spent nearly two-thirds on staff compensation

JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden Cancer Initiative, the nonprofit that former Vice President Joe Biden established two years ago after leaving the White House, spent nearly two-thirds of its budget on staff compensation.

The Biden Cancer Initiative, a nonprofit to support cancer prevention and research, doled out high salaries to executives, according to a report from the Washington Free Beacon. The organization's president, Greg Simon, was paid $224,539 in 2017 and $429,850 in 2018.

Biden Cancer Initiative salaries made up nearly 65% of its total expenditures. The organization raised and spent $4.8 million over the two years it was in operation, and more than $3 million of that amount went to salaries, compensation, and benefits, according to 2017 and 2018 tax forms. The Biden Cancer Initiative spent $1.7 million on other expenses, including $740,000 for conferences, conventions, and meetings.

Charity Navigator, a website that rates charities for effectiveness, said charities "spending less than a third of their budget on program expenses are simply not living up to their missions."

The Biden Cancer Initiative did not cut a single grant check to other organizations. However, the nonprofit was not established as a grant-providing entity.

Many of the executives who were paid six figures at the Biden Cancer Initiative previously worked for the Obama administration's "Cancer Moonshot" program, that was created to "accelerate cancer research" and "aims to make more therapies available to more patients, while also improving our ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage."

The report questions if the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's organization "allowed associates to profit off their access to him."

The organization's mission was to "develop and drive implementation of solutions to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research, and care, and to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes."

Biden and his wife Jill left the organization's board in April 2019 to avoid a conflict of interest as he prepared to launch his presidential campaign. The Biden Cancer Initiative suddenly shuttered on July 11, 2019.

"Today, we are suspending activities given our unique circumstances. We remain personally committed to the cause, but at this time will have to pause efforts," Greg Simon, president of the Biden Cancer Initiative, said. "We thank the community for their incredible response to our mission to improve the cancer journey for patients and to improve outcomes for all patients for generations to come."

Fortune reported in July 2019 that the "nonprofit had trouble maintaining momentum" without the involvement of the Biden's. "And the roles played by Biden allies and health care-related firms in aiding the foundation's activities have raised questions about their potential interests if Biden won the presidency."

An Associated Press report from June of last year warned about the possible influence issues with Biden's close ties to health care companies. "The nonprofit's reliance on health care industry partners poses concerns."

Several of the health care companies Biden touted while the initiative was operating had financial and regulatory interests with the federal government.

Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at New York University, asked if Biden was elected as president, would his administration "give favorable treatment for anyone who supported his foundation in the past?"

Biden's son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.

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