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$4 Million In Donations Buys 11 Mammograms

July 7, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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How many mammograms will $4 million buy? Only 11, once a charity called the Coalition Against Breast Cancer (CABC) finished deducting its “expenses.”

So claims New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Last week, he filed a lawsuit to shut down the CABC, based on Long Island, New York, and the Campaign Center, a for-profit company that raised funds for the CABC.

The lawsuit says the Campaign Center kept 80 percent of the money it raised—until last year, when the percentage increased to 85.

Much of the rest of the money donated to the CABC—$9.1 million in just the past five years—went to generous salaries, health and dental insurance, retirement accounts, BlackBerry mobile phones, and other benefits for CABC board members, according to the lawsuit. (The lawsuit says the board consisted of CABC founder Andrew Smith and, at various times, his then-wife, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s friend.)

No wonder the CABC, despite raising more than $4 million during the past three years, funded mammograms for only 11 women during that time, according to the lawsuit. The suit says that in 2008, when the charity received more than $1.4 million in donations, it spent $374 on underwriting mammographies.

The lawsuit says that Smith and Garrett Morgan, who ran the Campaign Center, “launched the CABC fundraising operation in 1995 to exploit the breast cancer movement for their own personal benefit, at a time when both were in need of cash.” The lawsuit explains:

Smith was emerging from personal bankruptcy, and Morgan was being investigated for his role in a fraudulent meals-on-wheels charity, which was later ordered permanently shut down.

The CABC’s Web site, www.cabcli.com, appears to have vanished.

Schneiderman’s news release announcing the lawsuit includes a link to the lawsuit itself, which makes for fascinating if infuriating reading. The release is self-serving. Schneiderman is, after all, a politician trying to make himself look good. But a quote from the attorney general does sum up the tragedy of such cases:

By using a charity as a personal cash machine, the Coalition Against Breast Cancer and Campaign Center shamelessly exploited New Yorkers’ natural sympathies and generosity. Instead of benefiting breast cancer victims and their families, millions of dollars were misused for personal benefit.

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