After the abrupt shutdown of a Chicago, Ill.-based breast cancer nonprofit, State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) is calling for the state attorney general to investigate the organization.
Y-Me, which operated a nationwide hotline for breast cancer patients, caused a shock last Thursday when it suddenly fired its staff and shutdown its offices, according to a report in The Chicago Sun-Times. Sen. Silverstein was one of more than 20,000 people who helped the organization raise more than $2 million by participating in its May 13 race and walk.
The office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan said that it would review Y-Me's finances, but didn't accuse the charity of any wrongdoing.
Sharon Green, the charity's first executive director and a current board member, said that economics were the only cause for the shutdown. She told The Sun-Times that Y-Me's finances will be revealed when the organization files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy later this week. She also said that the money raised by the May 13 race was used to keep the charity's hotline open as long as possible.
Public records from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicate that the breast cancer charity saw a big drop in donations over the last five years. Contributions dropped from a high of $16.7 million in 2007 to just $5.2 million in 2010. In addition, an audit released by Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office on Monday revealed that the worth of Y-Me's investments also plummeted. They carried a value of $1.5 million in 2010, but fell sharply to $803,204 as of June 30, 2011. This would indicate either investment losses or that the money was used to pay expenses.
While Green blamed economics as the reason for Y-Me's downfall, a former volunteer and founder of the group's fundraising race, Margaret Harte, said over the weekend that "incompetence and mismanagement" was to blame. She put added blame on the leadership of former CEO Margaret Kirk, who ended her tenure at the end of 2009.
You can read the full story in The Chicago Sun-Times.