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What About the Other One? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 April 2010 04:35

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s move to shut down the Coalition for Breast Cancer Cures (CBCC) - see article on page 6 - deserves substantial praise.   But, what about the other Long Island-based sham breast cancer charity with the remarkably similar name – and business connections to CBCC -- that is also duping generous donors with similarly false claims?

For years, NYNP has been reporting on the Coalition Against Breast Cancer (CABC), which has a long and dubious record of questionable fundraising practices and little if any record of providing actual services.   The Great Neck Record’s Carol Frank picked up the story in February after being contacted by a CABC telemarketer who claimed to be calling on behalf of the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition, a legitimate breast cancer support group.

We’re just newcomers when it comes to complaining about the CABC problem, however. Established breast cancer support and service groups on Long Island have long questioned the extent and value of any CABC services.  As far back as 1995,  the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program issued its own “Consumer Alert on Possible Breast Cancer Fraud”, noting that CABC, “which purports to raise money to support the fight against breast cancer in a number of ways has no association with…well known breast cancer organizations.”

In 2003, Debbie Basile, President of the Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition, complained to local media outlets that CABC’s fundraising efforts were misleading donors who believed that they were contributing to more established and reputable groups. The result was an article in Newsday – “Alarm-Raising Fund-Raising”.

CABC makes CBCC look like rank amateurs.  The AG’s lawsuit accuses CBCC of having defrauded New Yorkers out of $500,000.  CABC, by contrast, has raised many times that amount.   Between 1999 and 2008, CABC’s telemarketing fundraising activities took in a total of $6.2 million.  Professional fundraising fees and commissions siphoned off $4.2 million.  CABC itself took in roughly $1.2 million.   How do we know?  The AG’s own “Pennies for Charity” reports.

In fact, CABC’s total haul could be much higher.  According to the organization’s own IRS 990 filing for 2007, CABC reported raising almost twice the Pennies for Charities total through three different firms:  The Campaign Center, The Outreach Center in Berlin N.J., and Resource Hub in Hicksville.    The Resource Hub, interestingly enough is the professional fundraising firm owned by the Winstons, proprietors of CBCC.  Perhaps that is a connection worth exploring?

What does CABC do with the money?  Mostly, it pays its officers and directors.

In February, The Great Neck Record looked at CABC’s reported expenditures for 2008. “So, what happened to the $313,447 that CABC had left over to help women with breast cancer?,” they asked. “They paid out $194,381 in salaries and benefits to a president, Patricia Scott of Greenwich, CT. and Palisades, NY; a part-time treasurer Andrew Smith, St. James, NY; and a program director and vice president, Debra Koppleman, St. James, NY.”  The article reports that they even loaned out $105,000 to their treasurer, Mr. Smith.

“That left them $63,823 to spend for their mission as stated on their 990 tax form: ‘to increase public awareness and knowledge of breast cancer in the hopes of finding a cure,” reports The Record.  “They report that they have a $17,000 mammography fund to serve underinsured women in obtaining mammograms; however, none of the many local organizations, with whom The Record spoke, ever reported that they have been able to refer women to this group for such help. CABC also reports that they have a $62,000 scholarship fund “to assist students whose families have struggled with a breast cancer diagnosis.” Who gets that money is another interesting question.

Fred Scaglione is the editor of New York Nonprofit Press.

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