A cancer charity started by Joe Biden gave out no money to research, and spent most of its contributions on staff salaries, federal filings show.
The Biden Cancer Initiative was founded in 2017 by the former vice president and his wife Jill Biden 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,” according to its IRS mission statement. But it gave out no grants in its first two years, and spent millions on the salaries of former Washington DC aides it hired.
The charity took in $4,809,619 in contributions in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, and spent $3,070,301 on payroll in those two years. The group’s president, Gregory Simon, raked in $429,850 in fiscal 2018 (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019), according to the charity’s most recent federal tax filings.
Simon, a former Pfizer executive and longtime health care lobbyist who headed up the White House’s cancer task force in the Obama administration, saw his salary nearly double from the $224,539 he made in fiscal 2017, tax filings show.
Danielle Carnival, former chief of staff for Obama’s cancer initiative, the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, who took home $258,207 in 2018.
The charity spent $56,738 on conferences and $59,356 on travel that year. The following year, the travel expenditure swelled to $97,149, and the non-profit spent $742,953 on conferences, tax filings show.
Simon had said that the main point of the charity was not to give out grants, and that its goal was to find ways to accelerate treatment for all, regardless of their economic or cultural backgrounds.
Biden headed up the Cancer Moonshot Task Force when he was veep after his son Beau died of a brain tumor in 2015. After leaving office, the Biden Cancer Initiative sought to continue such efforts to provide “urgent” solutions to treating cancer, according to a 2017 press statement announcing its launch.
The Bidens stacked the board with leading oncologists and celebrity cancer survivors, including musician Jimmy Gomez from the Black Eyed Peas.
After only two years, the charity “paused” its operations when Biden and his wife stepped down for Joe Biden’s presidential run.
Although the organization is still officially active, according to the IRS, Simon said in a 2019 interview that without the Bidens at the helm, the charity lost its edge.
“We tried to power through but it became increasingly difficult to get the traction we needed to complete our mission,” he told the AP in July 2019.
Neither Simon nor Biden could be reached for comment last week.