Did Shaheen Benefit Financially from Breast Cancer Funding Efforts?

While Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s support for spending government money to fight breast cancer may be laudable, new revelations raise questions as to just how altruistic her motives may have been.

 The New Hampshire Democrat has signed letters since she entered the Senate five years ago seeking $150 million to maintain a Defense Department breast cancer research program — despite objections by some other lawmakers — and last year, she endorsed an initiative to “end breast cancer” by 2020.

But Shaheen has also had a family financial stake in the research. In 2009, her husband, William, became an adviser to a Southern California startup, Ultrawave Labs Inc., that was developing new imaging technology to detect breast cancer and acquired stock options in the firm.

Shaheen isn’t talking and seems to be ducking the media’s requests for answers on the issue; however, watchdog groups have taken an interest in getting answers.

“It absolutely is a concern,” said Charlton Copeland, former chair of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust and a professor at the University of Miami. “It raises questions because so much of the work of this kind of policymaking takes place outside of the specter of the public eye.”

That same year, Ultrawave received $78,000 in federal stimulus funding and later paid a Washington company to lobby both houses of Congress and several government agencies, including the Department of Defense, on breast cancer funding, dovetailing with the senator’s own work to support the Pentagon’s breast cancer program. The stimulus money was from the National Science Foundation, not the Department of Defense.