A charity watchdog group has outed a nonprofit run by Joe Biden as a shell organization that uses almost the entirety of their funds to pay top executives and little-to-nothing on actually fighting cancer.
Nearly two-thirds of the money the Biden Cancer Initiative spent since its founding in 2017 went toward staff compensation and six-figure salaries for top executives. The group spent far less on efforts to eradicate cancer.
One of several nonprofits Joe Biden created following his tenure in the White House, the Biden Cancer Initiative paid top executives lavishly, with salaries comprising nearly 65 percent of its total expenditures. That is well above the 25 percent charity watchdogs recommend nonprofits spend on administrative overhead and fundraising costs combined.
The nonprofit raised and spent $4.8 million over its two years in operation, its 2017 and 2018 tax forms show. Slightly more than $3 million of that amount went to salaries, compensation, and benefits. At the same time, the group spent just $1.7 million on all of its other expenses. A bulk of this cash—$740,000—was poured into conferences, conventions, and meetings. It did not cut a single grant to any other group or foundation during its two-year run.
An analysis of nonprofits by Charity Navigator, which rates charities for effectiveness, found that mid-to-large-sized nonprofits paid their chief executives an average salary of $126,000 per year—far less than what the Biden Cancer Initiative paid its president, Greg Simon, who pocketed $224,539 in 2017 and $429,850 in 2018. Charity Navigator’s primary criterion for rating charities is whether they “spend at least 75% of their expenses directly on their programs.”
The Biden cancer group’s financial disclosures may raise new questions about whether the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee allowed associates to profit off their access to him. Before going on to receive six-figure salaries from the Biden Cancer Initiative, Simon and the initiative’s vice president, Danielle Carnival, previously worked for the Obama administration’s Cancer Moonshot program. Biden’s son Hunter received $50,000 a month to sit on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma despite an apparent lack of qualifications. James Biden, Joe Biden’s brother, joined a construction firm in 2010 that later won a $1.5 billion contract to build homes in Iraq while Biden oversaw Iraq policy. Biden’s presidential campaign has been plagued with questions about Hunter’s and James’s financial activities.
Simon was only one of several highly paid Biden Cancer Initiative executives. Carnival was also compensated handsomely, collecting a combined $391,897 in 2017 and 2018. Simon and Carnival were the only two individuals paid both years by the nonprofit. During its second year in operation, the initiative added others to its payroll, including director of communications Cecilia Arradaza (who was paid $171,012), director of engagement Lisa Simms Booth ($197,544), and director of science policy Catherine Young ($170,904).
Biden stepped away from the initiative and his other nonprofits shortly before entering the presidential race to avoid conflicts of interest. Many of the health companies that Biden touted during his time with the nonprofit have financial and regulatory interests with the federal government. Simon told the Associated Pressin 2019 that many of the group’s attempted partnerships with medical organizations were “not successful.”
The Biden Cancer Initiative was launched to continue the agenda of the Cancer Moonshot program, which President Obama created toward the end of his second term in hopes of accelerating research in the field. Biden, whose son Beau died from the disease, led the program with Simon’s help.
The nonprofit operated primarily through indirect money pledges from 57 partnerships, which included drug and health insurance companies. The group also pushed for data sharing, patient support, and other medical initiatives.
The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Simon did not respond to inquiries on the Biden Cancer Initiative’s finances and what the group had ultimately achieved before ceasing its operations.