How American Cancer Society Uses Your Money

//How American Cancer Society Uses Your Money

How American Cancer Society Uses Your Money


By David M. Schwartz, Esq.

Let me make this perfectly clear. I’m a Government Relations lawyer who represents small businesses throughout the State of New York and beyond. I want to address the government assault, led by its partner in crime, the American Cancer Society (ACS), against the people I represent in this state: SMALL TOBACCO. That’s right, we hear all about big tobacco, but some of the most wonderful, century-old companies, including retail tobacconists and small family distribution companies, are under attack and are on life support because of a policy to tax these companies and the tobacco products they sell into oblivion. These small businesses are an important part of our towns, villages and cities all across New York, employ thousands of people, and are responsible for substantial tax revenues.

Although New York State has seen a small decline in the number of smokers, the brick and mortar retail stores have lost more than half of their revenue because of the intense lobbying of the ACS, which has driven the majority of tobacco sales to illegal, untaxed sources. Indian Reservations, other cheaper taxed states, other illegal Internet sources and street dealers are making millions and not paying a dime of taxes. New York State is losing over TWO BILLION DOLLARS per year due to illegal, untaxed tobacco products coming into the state; this includes the loss of taxing 40 million cartons of cigarettes which, alone, account for a loss to New York of over one billion dollars per year.

Two budget items proposed by the Governor are a new one dollar cigarette tax per carton and a new 90% tax (OTP tax) on cigars and other tobacco products. Both of these taxes are revenue negative and will not bring a dime of new revenue to New York. The new OTP tax will put 300 fine tobacco shops throughout New York out of business overnight. What a shame to shut these businesses and to take away a leisure activity enjoyed by so many. The new dollar tax on cigarettes will create an even more lucrative underground market and will further destroy New York’s economy. For more information on the disastrous effects of these government policies, please log on to and

High taxes make bootleggers rich. The ACS and illegal tobacco shops are flying high.

ACS has been part and parcel of the destruction of wonderful small businesses, including the shutting down of thousands of bodegas over the past decade. The industry, both small shops and big tobacco, have kowtowed to this organization over the past three decades because they didn’t want an even greater enemy. I sit at my desk and wonder why this organization gets a pass. It seems like their only success is to lobby for higher tobacco taxes which have put our wonderful New York businesses out of business and have led to an illegal cigarette and cigar market that is making the criminals very rich and honest hardworking New Yorkers very poor and out of business. After analyzing the situation further, an abhorrent consistency emerges: it seems like the executives at ACS have gotten very rich off of sick cancer patients, the same way they have made criminals and terrorists very rich off of illegal tobacco distribution in this state.

The gloves are off ACS. You’ve already destroyed a once viable industry in this state and now it’s time to look at what the American Cancer Society does with the ONE BILLION DOLLARS you spend every year of money that is given to you by very hard working people, including my clients. People of New York and People of the United States of America think that you spend this money on the curing, treatment and prevention of cancer, when in reality these contributions fund high overhead, excessive salaries, high expenses, excessive reserves of assets and contributions to political parties. People should understand that through our contributions to what we thought was curing and preventing cancer, we have created the world’s wealthiest “nonprofit” institution.

I want to point out some of the more nauseating facts about this billion dollar organization that should make everyone’s blood boil – especially those whom have somehow been touched by this insidious disease called cancer. The American Cancer Society in a nutshell:

  • For every $1 spent on direct service, $6.40 is spent on compensation and overhead
  • Only 16% or less of all money raised is spent on direct services to cancer victims
  • Based on 2008 financial documents, the CEO, Donald Thomas, earned through compensation and benefits, $1,054,507
  • ACS’ Deputy Chief Executive Officer also earned $1,057,507 through compensation and benefits

– The excessive salaries at the expense of cancer victims at the American Cancer Society do not stop there. Other wonderful salary expenditures include: $610,927 for the CEO of the South Atlantic Division of ACS; $573,589 for the CEO of the California Division of ACS; $561,140 for the CEO of the Great West Division of ACS; $535,494 for the CEO of the High Plains Division of ACS; $511,107 for the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of ACS; $456,691 for the Chief Operating Officer for the Mid South Division of ACS; $334,472 for the Interim Chief Mission Officer of ACS; $304,293 for the Chief Financial Officer of ACS; $565,397 for the Chief Operating Officer of ACS; $552,213 for the CEO of the Great West Division; $522,090 for the CEO of the South Atlantic Division of ACS; $425,151 for the National Vice President of Division Services of ACS; $381,588 for another National Vice President of Division Services of ACS; $365,295 for the President of the American Cancer Society Foundation and $333,157 for the National Vice President of Research for ACS

– The above list barely scratches the surface of a clear mission to pad the pockets of this organization’s management and other “friends” rather than treatment and prevention of cancer. In fact, a more detailed analysis of how the American Cancer Society spends the revenue it gets from hard working citizens of our state and country is as follows:

  • • ACS spends over 400 MILLION DOLLARS ON SALARIES per year
  • • ACS spends over 88 MILLION DOLLARS ON EMPLOYEE BENEFITS per year
  • • ACS spends over 60 MILLION DOLLARS ON PROFESSIONAL FEES per year
  • • ACS spends over 17 MILLION DOLLARS ON TELEPHONE CALLS per year
  • • ACS spends over 29 MILLION DOLLARS ON TRAVEL EXPENSES per year
  • • ACS spends over 14 MILLION DOLLARS ON “MISCELLANEOUS” EXPENSES per year, whatever that means…

The American Cancer Society with all their salaries and expenses has done a wonderful job putting the little guy out of business. Instead of spending the money on people in need, ACS at the present time has over ONE BILLION DOLLARS in net assets including cash in the bank and land holdings. ACS with all its revenue and holdings is one of the most successful businesses in the country, while the hospitals that provide direct care to patients are closing their doors and fighting to stay open to serve the community. A 1992 article in the Wall Street Journal written by Thomas Dilorenzo, professor of economics at Loyola College and veteran investigator of nonprofit organizations, revealed that the Texas affiliate of ACS owned more than 11 MILLION DOLLARS worth of assets in land and real estate and owned more than 56 vehicles assigned to staff members. Arizona’s ACS chapter spent less than 10 PERCENT of its funds on direct cancer services. In California, the figure was 11 percent and under 9 percent in Missouri.

Can anyone tell me what the correlation is between the spending of ACS and the curing, prevention and treatment of cancer? The bottom line  – the expenditures of this organization stated above have nothing to do with curing cancer and this alone should shock the conscience of all citizens. As bad as the above spending is, it gets even worse. The money that does get spent on direct programs, as opposed to administration, is filled with conflicts of interest. The first conflict of interest is the relationship between ACS and the mammography industry. The mammography industry contributes millions of dollars to ACS and in return ACS takes care of the interests of the manufacturers of mammogram machines and film including Siemens, General Electric, Eastman Kodak and Piker. If every woman were to follow the ACS’ guidelines regarding mammography, it would lead to a windfall of over 5 billion dollars to the healthcare industry. Other conflicts of interest include the defense of the pesticide industry ACS stands by that industry and defends that industry and insists that there is no correlation between pesticides and cancer. Why? Because the pesticide chemical industry donates millions of dollars to ACS. The other noticeable conflict of interest is the relationship between ACS and the cancer drug industry. ACS has turned its back on innovative cancer therapies and, instead, pushes, as hard as it can, the cancer drugs manufactured by the very same companies that ACS is in bed with and from whom the ACS receives millions of dollars of funding. ACS has also shown that it will destroy the reputations of doctors whom try to recommend alternative treatments as opposed to the drugs made by ACS’ preferred manufacturers.

In conclusion, the American Cancer Society is a complete failure in the fight against cancer and it serves as a place for many to become rich at the patients’ expense. It is now trying to destroy the New York State economy by putting so many retail shops out of business; this is just not acceptable coming from an organization that diverts hundreds of millions of dollars away from where it is supposed to be spent.

There are many other places to donate money and many other ways to get the dollars in the hands of people who are on the front lines in developing cures, treatments and prevention of cancer. As Dr. Samuel Epstein, former Chair of the Congressional Committee on Cancer, has stated, “ACS is more concerned with accumulating wealth than saving lives.” The unmitigated gall of this organization! Our government needs to stop taking advice from ACS and start creating policies that will invigorate small businesses to be able to thrive in New York in the 21st century. People should boycott this organization and give their money to places that will assist in the fight against cancer and opposed to making ACS even richer than it already is.

If anyone from ACS has a problem with this article, then come out and let’s debate the issues, any time, any place.

For more information on how tobacco taxes are killing small business and making criminals rich, visit New York  Up In Smoke.

Also check out Gotham’s efforts on behalf of New York’s small business owners.

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