There is breaking news out of Austin today, with the Texas state Attorney General Greg Abbott indicating the launch of a new investigational probe into the CPRIT Foundation, as well as a cease-and-desist order issued to halt the Foundation’s spending. In a letter posted last Friday, assistant Attorney General G. David Whitley indicated to the CPRIT Foundation that: “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.” “TCC” refers to the “Texas Cancer Coalition,” a new moniker that the CPRIT Foundation is currently using to rebrand itself.
The CPRIT Foundation is a privately funded organization that, among other tasks, helps to bolster CPRIT officials’ state-controlled salaries in order to raise them up to levels commensurate with what those officials would typically earn in the private sector. Over the past three years, the organization has raised $3.6 million from private donations in order to supplement CPRIT staff incomes. There have been concerns about the connection between donated funds to the privately-run CPRIT Foundation and grants awarded by the state-funded CPRIT, which were exacerbated last December when the Foundation was reluctant to reveal its donor list.
This is the second investigation launched against CPRIT, with this new probe coming just as the Texas legislature is preparing to vote on a new set of sweeping rules laid out by the newly appointed CPRIT oversight committee. In a previous article, BioNews Texas outlined how the new proposals seek to dramatically increase oversight and regulation for the CPRIT Foundation. Officials with the foundation, the cancer agency and the attorney general’s office met late Monday to try and work out a resolution.
It remains to be seen how this new investigation could come to affect the vote on new CPRIT proposals.
Last month, an open meeting scheduled by CPRIT’s oversight committee for March 21st to discuss the new proposals — including changes to the CPRIT Foundation — was abruptly cancelled. The organization has yet to reschedule the meeting. Texas law requires that the public to openly discuss and engage new proposals within thirty days prior to a vote in the Texas legislature.