(CHARLESTON) -- Today, South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond announced the award of a $39,024 grant to MUSC Hollings Cancer Center following a landmark enforcement action against four sham charities and their directors.
“It is so rare that funds are recovered from these bad actors and then distributed to the actual cause that the donors intended to support,” said Secretary Hammond. “I am happy that South Carolina residents are seeing a direct benefit from this enforcement action through such a worthy organization as MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.”
Hollings Cancer Center Director Raymond N. DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., thanked Hammond for awarding Hollings the grant. “While it’s unfortunate that the donations were collected under false pretenses, it’s wonderful that they will finally be used for those donors’ original reasons to give, which is to help cancer patients.”
The grant will help support hundreds of breast and pediatric cancer patients at Hollings, said Debbie Bordeau, Hollings’ Director of Development. “The grant will help provide financial assistance for housing, travel, meals, medication and other necessities. Funds from the grant will also support our survivorship programs, which give cancer survivors the education and tools they need to improve both their mental and physical health after battling this fearsome disease.”
In this unprecedented effort, the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office joined the other 49 states, the District of Columbia and the Federal Trade Commission in May 2015 to permanently shut down Cancer Fund of America, Inc., The Breast Cancer Society, Inc., Cancer Support Services, Inc., and the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, Inc.
The “Cancer Fund” charities, which were operated by Jim Reynolds, along with his friends and family members, bilked donors of more than $187 million between 2008 and 2012. The multistate complaint filed in May 2015 included counts of systematic misrepresentations to the public about the organizations’ charitable programs, manipulation of the value assigned to donated items on their tax forms to make the organizations appear larger and more efficient than they were, and the Reynolds family’s personal use of donated funds.
For example, the Reynolds family used donations to pay themselves exorbitant salaries and hold board meetings on cruises and at vacation destinations such as Disney World. Of the $187 million raised by the defendants, only 3 percent was directed to cancer patients in the United States in the form of “care packages” containing religious DVDs, Moon Pies, random items of clothing, and various sundries that lacked any palliative or supportive uses for Americans suffering from cancer.
Following the filing of the multistate enforcement action in 2015, the organizations’ assets were liquidated. Final court orders were issued in March 2019 by Arizona U.S. District Court Judge Neil V. Wake approving the charity regulators’ recommendation that the recovered funds be distributed to the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, to award grants for the provision of care and services to cancer patients in all 50 states. The goal of this distribution is to ensure that the recovered funds go to provide direct assistance to cancer patients, as intended by the original donors to the Cancer Fund charities.
Since that time, approximately $2.5 million has been distributed through the Rockefeller Foundation to National Cancer Institute Cancer Care Centers throughout the country, including the $39,024 grant to MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.
Hammond said he hopes this landmark case serves as an example that scammers will not be tolerated in South Carolina.
“Not only is the Cancer Fund multistate an historic case in the area of charities regulation, but it stands as a warning to those who exploit people seeking to help others through charitable donations,” said Secretary Hammond. “I encourage anyone who has any concerns about a charity, professional fundraiser, or nonprofit raffle to contact the Division of Public Charities at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484). You can also use the Online Charitable Solicitation Complaint Form at sos.sc.gov to file a confidential complaint 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”