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You Paid For It: Prostate Cancer Research Fund
ALBANY -- It may be hard to believe, but the State Comptroller is confirming for us that $2.8 million is sitting untouched in an account that is supposed to be used to help in the fight against cancer.
It's money that the taxpayers of New York have donated over the years -- and it's been matched by hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars from State coffers. Since the money started piling up nine years ago, not a penny of it has been used.
It's right there on your State Tax form -- one of eight charities you can donate to when filing. Check a box and you help fight prostate cancer - or so you'd think.
Records obtained from the State Comptroller's office show that since 2004, $2.89 million has been collected for that Prostate Cancer Research Fund - that's with donations, some state matching funds, and interest. State Senator Hugh Farley of Niskayuna sits on the Senate Health Committee and says the committee is already investigating and wants a full accounting.
Then-Governor George Pataki signed the Cancer Checkoff Box Legislation in 2004, after it was announced with great fanfare by philanthropist Michael Milken and then-Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, both prostate cancer survivors. Milken's foundation was to match all donations -- records show that has never happened.
The money was to go in the form of grants, to the NYS Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer, an organization that no one seems to know much about -- it is tied to Milken's Prostate Cancer Foundation in California, but has lost it's tax exempt status, and seems to have only a California address.
Michael Burgess of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network says there are plenty of cancer research and outreach groups that could put the money to good use.
What it may come down to is the state legisature changing the law, taking the Coalition to Cure Prostate Cancer out of the mix. The State Health Department says the fund was ",,,was well intentioned but flawed in that it did not create an effective mechanism to ensure contributed monies could be allocated to prostate cancer research and educational outreach."