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Upstate legislators request audit of GHS Office of Philanthropy

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By Bill Poovey
bpoovey@scbiznews.com
Published Feb. 22, 2016

Questions about Greenville Health System Office of Philanthropy fundraising and spending have prompted a state audit request by some Greenville area legislators. State Rep. Mike Burns, R-Taylors, said the request stems from GHS spending of funds raised for a “neurological center.”

Burns and nine other members of the Greenville County legislative delegation requested the audit in a Feb. 11 letter to the S.C. Legislative Audit Council. The other letter signees are Sens. Karl B. Allen, D-Greenville; Lee Bright, R-Roebuck; and Tom Corbin, R-Travelers Rest and Reps. Tommy M. Stringer, R-Greer; Garry Smith, R-Simpsonville; Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville; Dwight Loftis, R-Greenville; Bill Chumley, R-Woodruff; and Eric Bedingfield, R-Belton.

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The letter requests an audit of the GHS “Office of Philanthropy and all other related departments or not-for-profit organizations substantially controlled by GHS engaged or assisting with fundraising or the solicitation of charitable donations for GHS projects.”

GHS spokeswoman Sandy Dees said in a statement that the system is “proud of our work with patients and is especially proud of the longtime commitment in and from the community. GHS has not been contacted by members of the Greenville County legislative delegation or the S.C. Legislative Audit Council requesting any information about GHS Philanthropy or its work with charitable funds.”

The GHS Office of Philanthropy & Partnership is described on its website as the “philanthropic arm of GHS, seeking gifts of time, talent, and treasure from the giving community.” The websites says “programs, medical equipment, renovations, and education are just a few examples of what can be possible through generous donations.”

The website says donations can be directed to a “specific area or program or you may make an unrestricted donation. If you choose an unrestricted donation, your gift will go to an area or program that is in the most urgent need.” All of a donation “goes toward the program or area of your choice. Our office is operationally supported by the GHS, which makes it possible for every dollar donated to go where you as a donor specify.”

The delegation letter also asks for an audit of “all GHS strategic plans, building projects, medical departments, medical practices, or any other initiatives that received funds controlled by or solicited through the GHS Office of Philanthropy. Then audit should include a reconciliation of monies solicited for each project as compared to funds spent for each project. Specific attention should be given to those donations that were given for a directed purpose.”

Smith said the delegation members made the request in response to questions raised by constituents.

“One of the concerns has to do with fundraising done for a neurological institute,” Smith said. “It has been going on for several years. No money is going to such an institute.” He said there was a “recent fundraising event” involved.

Burns said he could not provide details about specific fundraising and spending that prompted the request.

Legislative Audit Council Director Earle Powell said the audit request has enough signatures to be presented to the agency’s oversight board, possibly in March. He said the board will decide whether to grant the request.

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