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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Controversial Donors in the News

Reading and Resources

Business Related 

David Radler

Paul Dunn, When a Donor Becomes Tainted, Nonprofit Quarterly, March 21, 2010

Martin Shrekli

Homeless Charity to Return Donation by Notorious Entrepreneur Martin Shrekli, The Guardian, December 18, 2015

Alfred Tauban

Alfred Tauban, Billionaire Convicted of Price Fixing, Dies at 91, The Washington Post, April 17, 2015

Sex Related

Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby’s Image as Generous Philanthropist Falls under Shadow of Sexual Assault Allegations, Fox News, December 1, 2015

Harvey Weinstein

Ruth McCambridge, Weinstein Resigns from Robin Hood Board as Others Return His Donations, Nonprofit Quarterly, October 11, 2017

Jeffrey Epstein

Russ Choma, MIT Tried to Cover Up Donations from Jeffrey Epstein, Mother Jones, September 7, 2019

Race Related

John Schnatter

Courtney Han, Purdue University Removes John Schnatter Name from Building, Offers to Return $8 Million Donation, ABC News, August 5, 2018

Donald Sterling

Larry Gordon, UCLA Cancels $3-million Research Gift from Sterling Foundation, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2014 

Business and the public interest

Sackler Family

Elizabeth A. Harris, The Met Will Turn Down Sackler Money among Fury over Opioid Crisis, New York Times, May 15, 2019 

Other misconduct and crimes

John Eleuthère du Pont (murder conviction)

John F. Bonfatti, Villanova Mum on Renaming Pavilion du Pont Promised to Fund but Didn’t, AP News, February 3, 1996

Bill and Nancy Laurie (academic misconduct)

Stephanie Simon, Benefactors Find Scandal Gave New Arena a Bad Name, Chicago Tribune, November 25, 2004

Lance Armstrong (athletic misconduct)

Brent Schrotenbauer, Livestrong Adjusts to Life Without Lance Armstrong, USA Today, May 4, 2016.


For more information, please contact:

Joan Harrington
Director, Social Sector Ethics

More on Social Sector Ethics