FRANKFORT — For the past two years, Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear has joined lawmakers, health experts and cancer survivors in news conferences to urge Kentuckians to check a box on their state income tax returns to support breast cancer research.
During a 2011 news conference, Beshear said she was going to call her accountant to make sure she had donated to the Breast Cancer Research and Education Trust Fund. But tax returns for the first lady and Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear show they have not checked the donation box for at least the past two years.
The Beshears' 2010 tax returns showed they did check the box to donate at least $2 to the Kentucky Democratic Party.
Diane L. Brumback, a breast cancer survivor from Boone County who participated in January's news conference with Jane Beshear, said Monday that the first lady should stop touting the initiative "if she is not going to do as she says."
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When questioned about the issue Monday, a spokeswoman for the Beshears said the couple makes all of their charitable contributions privately.
"On their 2010 tax return, you'll see they donated nearly $19,000 of their gross income — that's more than 11 percent of their before-tax income," said spokeswoman Kerri Richardson. "Not only do they donate money to many worthy causes, including those that support breast cancer research, but they give their time and energy to promoting those charities and non-profit organizations."
The state Web site for Jane Beshear says she is committed to combating breast cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Kentucky.
The site notes that she founded Horses and Hope with the Kentucky Cancer Program in 2008. It provides breast cancer education, screening and treatment referrals for members of Kentucky's horse industry and their families.
Those efforts are commendable, Brumback said, but the Beshears ought to check off the breast cancer research fund box on tax returns if Jane Beshear is urging all Kentucky taxpayers to do so.
"I was not questioning whether or not they make charitable contributions," Brumback said. "They always tout how much they donate.
State Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville, successfully sponsored legislation in 2005 to create the Breast Cancer Research and Education Trust Fund, administered by the state Department for Public Health in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. It awards grants to eligible organizations providing breast cancer programs and services.
Jenkins said at this year's news conference that more than 27,000 Kentuckians have donated to the fund in the amounts of their choice through the tax form check-off, raising more than $270,000.
Jenkins said Monday she did not want to comment on the Beshears' tax returns.