Donors who have given money to four of the largest cancer charities in the United States may have unknowingly been financing the lavish lifestyle of the C.E.O. who runs them—paying for luxury cruises, elite gym memberships instead of treatment for cancer patients.
That’s according to a suit filed Tuesday by the Federal Trade Commission as well as attorneys general in all 50 states, which alleges that James Reynolds deceived and defrauded donors out of more than $187 million between four of his charities—including the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society.
The complaint says that the scheme started in the 1980’s. The charities told donors via telemarketing calls that their money would go toward medicine and transportation for cancer patients. However, most of the money actually went toward Reynolds’ personal indulges.
The complaint says that between 2008 and 2012, only three percent of donations actually went to cancer patients.
The FTC also accuses the organizations of cooking their books and reporting inflated revenues as well as “gifts in kind” that they said they distributed internationally.
The FTC said two of the charities—the Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society plan to settle the charges out of court. The Associated Press reported that the Breast Cancer Society, posted a statement on its website Tuesday blaming increased government scrutiny for the charity's downfall.
"While the organization, its officers and directors have not been found guilty of any allegations of wrongdoing, and the government has not proven otherwise, our board of directors has decided that it does not help those who we seek to serve, and those who remain in need, for us to engage in a highly publicized, expensive, and distracting legal battle around our fundraising practices," the statement said.
Several executives who were also involved in the sccheme, including Reynolds’ son, have agreed to a settlement, which bans them from working in fundraising or charities. The two charities that settled, Breast Cancer Society and the Children’ Cancer Fund of America will be dissolved.
The settlement also orders a $65,664,360 judgment, which is the amount consumers donated between 2008 and 2012. Reynolds junior’s judgment will be for suspended once he pays $75,000. Meanwhile the legal proceedings for Reynolds’ senior and the two remaining charities are ongoing.
President Trump announced on Thursday the creation of a National Council for the American Worker, charged with developing “a national strategy for training and retraining workers for high-demand industries,” his daughter Ivanka wrote in The Wall Street Journal. A report from the president’s National Council on Economic Advisers earlier this week made it clear that the U.S. currently spends less public money on job programs than many other developed countries.
Most business economists in the U.S. expect the economy to keep chugging along over the next three months, with rising corporate sales driving additional hiring and wage increases for workers.
The tax cuts, however, don’t seem to be playing a role in hiring and investment plans. And the trade conflicts stirred up by the Trump administration are having a negative influence, with the majority of economists at goods-producing firms who replied to the most recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics saying that their companies were putting investments on hold as they wait to see how things play out.
The Republican tax bill signed into law late last year imposed a 21 percent tax on employees at non-profits who earn more than $1 million a year. According to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education cited by Bloomberg, there were 12 presidents of public universities who received compensation of at least $1 million in 2017, with James Ramsey of the University of Louisville topping the list at $4.3 million. Endowment managers could also get hit with the tax, as could football coaches, some of whom earn substantially more than the presidents of their institutions.
The federal budget deficit rose by 16 percent in the first nine months of the 2018 fiscal year, which began last October. The shortfall came to $607 billion, compared to $523 billion in the same period the year before, according to a U.S. Treasury report released Thursday and reported by Bloomberg. Both revenue and spending rose, but spending rose faster. Revenues came to $2.54 trillion, up 1.3 percent from the same nine-month period in 2017, while spending came to $3.15 trillion, up 3.9 percent.