Will Komen Cut Off Grants to Catholic Hospitals, Too?

11:49 am in Religion by Peterr

(photo: krazydad/jbum/flickr)

Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic has a nice piece up, describing the new policy of the Komen for the Cure people that prohibits grants being made to Planned Parenthood, as well as the reactions internally at Komen among their professional staff. (Short version: not good.)  As for the policy, in a memo to Komen employees, Komen President Elizabeth Thompson said:

. . . should Komen become aware that an applicant or its affiliates are under formal investigation for financial or administrative improprieties by local, state or federal authorities, the applicant will be ineligible to receive a grant.

That caught my attention fast, because of some other investigations I’ve been reading about lately.

The Roman Catholic Church is under investigation for financial irregularities in a number of places across the country. A biggie is in Milwaukee, where the current Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, apparently tried to cook the books while serving earlier as the head of the Milwaukee diocese, to hide diocesean assets from the judge in a child abuse case. Said Jack Rule, an accounting professor who looked the court filings and testimony over in an interview with Jason Berry of National Catholic Reporter, ““In other words, they zeroed out one account and transferred most of the funds to a new account,” Ruhl explained. “From an accounting standpoint, all Dolan did was rename the assets. It was a shell game.” That case, as the story points out, is still before a bankruptcy judge, with an ongoing investigation not only into the child abuse claims but also the money available to settle them.

Sounds like an ongoing formal investigation to me.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the CFO of that archdiocese was caught with her hand in the till, to the tune of $1M. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

Donna Farrell, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the church was continuing to work with the district attorney’s office and declined further comment. She said the church last year hired attorney Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. and the accounting firm of Parente Randolph to conduct an internal audit.

Hmmm . . . another ongoing formal investigation.

So do investigations like these of the Catholic church and its financial dealings mean that Georgetown University and other Catholic institutions will be prohibited from receiving Komen grants? In 2009-10, per Komen’s 990 [pdf], GU got grants of $599,985 and $250,000 for research (pdf pp. 43 and 47) and $73,750 for treatment programs (pdf p. 54). (FY: 4/1/2009-3/31/2010). Note that the above is the 990 for the main Komen for the Cure organization, which is separate from the local affiliates who have to file their own 990s. Undoubtedly there are other RC organizations who receive Komen funds.

Some would say “but wait — GU is not in Milwaukee or Philadelphia!” I might be willing to agree with that, save for the fact that Komen held every Planned Parenthood affiliate liable for the alleged [edit] actions of the larger outfit.

I don’t raise this to pick on Catholics here. You could go through the list of grant recipients and find other institutions that are no doubt under investigation for one thing or another. There’s absolutely no research university (public, private secular, or private religious) that someone isn’t looking into for this, that, or the other thing. But if Komen isn’t willing to cut off other organizations known to be “under formal investigation for financial or administrative improprieties,” it makes their words about Planned Parenthood look mighty hollow.

Unless GU and other Catholic institutions are losing their funds too, this “it’s just our policy” line is Komen blowing smoke, and that makes me sick.