According to a report by KTVK reporter Dennis Welch, Bennett has received tens of thousands of dollars from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America since taking office in 2009. The company was founded by the conservative millionaire Richard Stephenson. There are no state laws or rules that would keep Bennett from serving on the company's board, and Bennett has disclosed the money in financial disclosure statements. So Bennett sees nothing wrong with the arrangement.
"I don't think there's anything inappropriate, in fact it's an honor for me to serve on a board that's helping treat people for cancer," Bennett told KTVK. "I'm on other boards, my whole life isn't about being secretary of state."
Bennett's work for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America's board can sometimes take "many" hours a month, he said.
"I can't do everything I'd like to do for them but I can squeeze out a few hours a month to be on the board," Bennett said. He later added: "Sometimes I spend several hours a week and many hours a month."
And despite the fact that Stephenson and other associates at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America have donated more than 30 percent of the money raised so far for Bennett's exploratory committee for governor, Bennett told KTVK, "I don't see Mr. Stephenson as a political activist."
Stephenson, who has been described as a "reclusive Illinois millionaire," founded the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in 1988 and currently serves as chairman of the board. He's also been a major political donor, and has a longtime association with FreedomWorks.
Stephenson was reportedly an early supporter of Citizens for a Sound Economy, the conservative lobbying group founded in 1984 by the Koch brothers. In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy split into Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. Stephenson became a FreedomWorks board member. In recent months, Stephenson has been linked to a mysterious $12 million donation made to FreedomWorks last year. And in the aftermath of former House Majority Leader Dick Armey's attempted coup FreedomWorks, Stephenson agreed to pay Armey $400,000 per year over 20 years in exchange for Armey leaving the group.
A call to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America was not immediately returned.