Biden cancer charity spent millions on salaries, zero on research
Last week it was reported that Joe Biden’s charity — Biden Cancer Initiative spent the millions it raised largely on executive salaries, giving nothing directly to help fight cancer.
During the Obama administration, Vice-President Biden led the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, partly as a tribute to his son Beau who died of a brain tumor in 2015. The Biden Cancer Initiative was established in 2017 by Joe Biden and his wife, Jill when they re-entered private life. The aim was to continue efforts started under the Moonshot Task Force. The launching statement said, "The Biden Cancer Initiative offers people diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones hope that our nation's leaders truly recognize the urgency that ending cancer as we know it demands. To continue the fight to make progress in cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and care.”
Tax filings reveal the Biden Cancer Initiative was one of several non-profits Joe Biden set up after leaving office. In the two years, it was operational, the staff and executives' salaries made up almost 65 percent of total expenditures. Normally, non-profits are recommended to keep under a 25 percent spend on administrative overhead and fundraising costs combined.
Compare the statistics from the Biden Cancer Initiative to the UK’s Cancer Research UK:
The Biden charity collected $4,809,619 in contributions for 2017 and 2018 and spent $3,070,301 on salaries in those two years. The remaining $1.7 million went to other expenses—$740,000 was for conferences, conventions, and meetings, $97,149 for travel. No grants were given out over the two years.
By comparison, Cancer Research UK’s income and spending break down as follows:
Total income for 2017/18 was £634 ($840) million. £104 ($137) million was spent on understanding cancer’s underlying biology, £423 ($560) million on research, and £186 ($246) million on costs. Running costs account for about 29%.
This falls in line with US charity watchdog’s Charity Navigator’s criterion that charities should "spend at least 75% of their expenses directly on their programs," not 65% on staff as the Biden charity did.
Moreover, the average rate of salary for chief executives of non-profits is $126,000 per year—whereas the Biden Cancer Initiative paid their president, Gregory Simon, $224,539 in 2017 and $429,850 in 2018. Simon’s links to his former employer, Pfizer, may explain Pfizer delaying its Covid-19 vaccine announcement purposefully until after the 2020 election. Along with tipping off the Biden team about the announcement first. Simon defended the expenditures by stating the main point of the charity was not to give out grants but that its goal was to find ways to accelerate treatment for all, regardless of their economic or cultural backgrounds.
A slush fund to reward supporters?
Danielle Carnival, Photo credit: C-SPAN
Other highly paid Biden Cancer Initiative executives were Danielle Carnival, who served as the Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Director for the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. Carnival was paid a combined $391,897 in 2017 and 2018. Additional staff who joined in 2018 were director of communications Cecilia Arradaza, paid $171,012, director of engagement Lisa Simms Booth receiving $197,544, and director of science policy Catherine Young with $170,904.
It has been widely reported close family members of the former Vice President have financially benefited from his political status, and it appears they did so from the Cancer Initiative. In this instance, Dr. Howard Krein, Biden’s son-in-law, served on its board of directors and traveled with Joe across the USA, attending health care industry events under the guise of the Biden Cancer Initiative. “Drug companies, hospitals, health insurers, medical associations and charities have pledged millions to the cause,” reported the Associated Press in 2019.
Biden closed down the charity before starting his presidential campaign to avoid conflicts of interest, as much of the non-profit's income came from these pledges. Companies that have financial and regulatory interests valued at $400 million with the federal government.
Bidens with Howard Krein in Singapore 2013. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Lau Fook Kong, The Straits Times
Howard Krein wrangled an Oval Office meeting with President Obama, thanks to a call from Joe. Using Joe’s connections, StartUp Health flourished – it raised $500,000 in 2012 but had $31 million by 2018. “The influence concerns posed by the firm are compounded by its foreign ties,” said Politico. “The $31 million raised included investments from the Chinese insurer Ping An, and Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent - a ‘co-investor’ in its cancer moonshot initiative.” Biden still appears involved— StartUp Health announced in March an effort to invest in “innovations” to combat Covid-19. Biden did a voice-over for their promotional materials.
The revelations about the Biden Cancer Initiatives' finances focus on his associates profiting from their access to him, like his son Hunter. Or his brother, James Biden, who was part of a construction company in 2010, won a $1.5 billion contract to build homes in Iraq when Biden, as vice-President, was heading the U.S. government’s Iraq policy.
Other Biden Charities
Just before the 2016 presidential election, Joe Biden and his wife established the Biden Foundation: “to exploring the ways that everyone—no matter their income level, race, gender, age, or sexuality—can expect to be treated with dignity and to receive a fair shot at achieving the American Dream.” Huge donations boosted the foundation quickly. $3.4 million total for 2016, but again, little was spent towards achieving its goals. For the three years it operated, nearly $10 million was raised, but only $1 million spent in grants to other charities—half of which, $495,323, went to the Biden Cancer Initiative.
It did donate $20,000 to the Military Child Education Coalition, a charity based in Texas to help families of U.S. servicemen. Two grants of just over $400,000 were made to the YMCA in 2018. Still, Perkins Coie law firm, famously known for its ties with Fusion GPS and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 to produce the infamous Steele dossier, was paid more than $230,000.
In large part, the Biden foundation activities involved public speeches by Joe and Jill to reach out to groups such as military families and gay rights activists - groups deemed helpful to give him positive coverage in the run-up to his presidential and democrat primary campaigns. Such as the “LGBTQ Inclusion and Equity Initiative,” they launched with the YMCA.
Biden said in his election campaign that if you elect him, he will cure cancer. It is an important issue for him and many Americans. So, we will continue to scrutinize his work.
Carol King received a first-class BA (honors) in History and Politics from Stirling University, along with an exceptional commendation for a study on U.S. public opinion and Foreign Policy. She also completed a year of study at the University of London before taking up a Graduate Proctor Fellowship at Princeton University. She further completed an MPhil in American Politics at Dundee University. Aspiring to be a writer/commentator on American politics, she now writes for UncoverDC.