Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has reportedly launched an investigation into the nonprofit arm of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) in an effort to determine what is happening to the money it has raised.
According to a report in The Austin American Statesman, the Abbott's office sent a letter to the CPRIT Foundation, now known as the Texas Cancer Coalition (TCC), on Friday to request that the organization cease all expenditures until the investigation is complete.
“Based on the preliminary information available to us at this time, we have serious legal concerns about the events that reportedly surrounded the formation of the TCC,” wrote G. David Whitley, the assistant deputy attorney general, in the letter.
TCC raised nearly $3.6 million over three years to supplement the six-figure salaries of CPRIT's top two executives and for conferences to fight cancer. The Foundation, however, was swept up in the ethical questions surrounding CPRIT. The state agency is being investigated by state prosecutors for allegedly mismanaging at least $56 million in grants. The investigation began after it was disclosed that CPRIT allegedly awarded an $11 million grant to a Dallas-base startup without any scientific or business review.
Abbott's office set its sights on TCC after it changed its name and mission. The attorney general believes the Foundation needed state authorization to make such a change. Craig Enoch, a lawyer for TCC, wrote in a response to Whitley's letter that state authorization was not necessary and that TCC leadership had discussed the potential change for months.
“The Foundation, in fact, is unaware of any authority requiring it to seek the Attorney General’s approval were it to actually dissolve and transfer its assets to another private charity with a similar mission,” wrote Enoch.
In terms of the funds raised, TCC spokesman Marc Palazzo told The Statesman that the money would be returned to the state once the organization pays its bills.
You can read the full story in The Austin American Statesman.