Saturday, February 04, 2012

Susan G. Komen Is Run By A Partisan Republican Party Hack-- Why Do You Expect Anything Different?


Hearts of darkness

Nancy Brinker is the founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen, an organization she named after her sister, who died of breast cancer at age 36. Brinker has been part of a team that has done incredibly valuable work for women's health. She's also a right-wing partisan hack who has contributed tens of thousands of dollars directly to the RNC and over $100,000 to right-wing anti-Choice sociopaths from Eric Cantor to Rick Santorum. She was also a major funder for both George W. Bush and for GOP child predator Mark Foley. She hired another GOP sociopath, Karen Handel as senior vice president of public policy after Handel was rejected by Georgia Republicans as too extreme. Brinker and Handel cooked up a scheme with Florida extremist, Rep. Cliff Stearns, to use a political witch hunt to defund Planned Parenthood. As of last year, Brinker was still funneling money into the RNC. Although she utterly destroyed the Susan G Komen brand in just over 48 hours, her board members have told the press that her job is not in jeopardy. Greg Sargent, like many of us, have questioned what Brinker's flip-flop on Planned Parenthood really means. So he worked the phones.

I just got off the phone with a Komen board member, and he confirmed that the announcement does not mean that Planned Parenthood is guaranteed future grants-- a demand he said would be “unfair” to impose on Komen. He also said the job of the group’s controversial director, Nancy Brinker, is safe, as far as the board is concerned.

As some were quick to point out, the statement put out by Komen doesn’t really clarify whether Planned Parenthood will actually continue to get money from the group. The original rationale for barring Planned Parenthood was that it was under investigation (a witch-hunt probe undertaken by GOP Rep Cliff Stearns). Komen said today that the group would “amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”

Does that mean Planned Parenthood will get Komen grants in the future?

I asked Komen board member John Raffaelli to respond to those who are now saying that the announcement doesn’t necessarily constitute a reversal until Planned Parenthood actually sees more funding. He insisted it would be unfair to expect the group to commit to future grants.

“It would be highly unfair to ask us to commit to any organization that doesn’t go through a grant process that shows that the money we raise is used to carry out our mission,” Raffaelli told me. “We’re a humaniatrian organization. We have a mission. Tell me you can help carry out our mission and we will sit down at the table.”

Pushed on whether this means the new announcement wasn’t really a reversal, Raffaelli pushed back, arguing that Komen, in response to all the criticism, had removed politics from the grant-making process. “Is it really unclear that we’re changing the policy to address criticism?” he said.

Others have pointed out that Komen’s handling of this issue should lead to skepticism of its announcement. Brinker had repeatedly said Komen’s funding decision was rooted in a larger policy change and wasn’t directed at Planned Parenthood in particular, suggesting the decision wasn’t related to the fact that Planned Parenthood was under assault by the GOP. This was contradicted by at least one account. More broadly, the group’s rationale for the decision shifted over the last week.

Pressed on whether Brinker had been forthcoming, Raffaelli insisted: “Nancy was not trying to mislead anyone.” Asked if there would be an internal look at how Brinker handled the episode, Raffaelli only said there would be some kind of general look at how to prevent the politicization of grant-making in the future. Raffaelli blamed himself for the failure to handle the politics of this mess adequately, and stressed that Brinker’s career had been devoted to breast cancer prevention, and not politics.

Asked if Brinker’s job was safe, Raffaelli said: “Yes.” He added that the board “unequivocally” stood behind her.

Though Komen had hoped today’s announcement would defuse the politics of this fight, it seems plausible that pressure from both sides will only continue.

It's inconceivable to me that a responsible board wouldn't have already have terminated Handel and embarked on a thorough investigation into how Brinker has been discharging her duties and turning Komen into a political adjunct of the extremist wing of the Republican Party. It's hard to imagine that millions of supporters across the country, who never even thought about any political connotations when writing checks to Komen, would ever consider giving them another dime. I know I never will. Of course, instead of destructive creeps like Brinker and Handel resigning, Mollie Williams, the organization's highly respected and much loved director of community health programs, resigned in protest over the grant cutoff.

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At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Tamadou said...

Really great post. Thanks!

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous me said...

I wonder how much of donors' money ended up in republican politicians' pockets?

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Planned Parenthood has seen a dramatic uptick in individual donations as a result of this mess. I believe they should simply divest themselves of any further business with SGK, as a decisive step in asserting autonomy.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger lawguy said...

I'd suggest that the Komen board is doing just what most non-profit boards do in that situation. Blindly back the leader. I watched it happen at various liberal institutions over the years. It is depressing.

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous BIL said...

Spoton Howie, AND ME.
Only 17% of donations are getting out of SGK to prevent breast cancer.

I think we just witnessed the Reinvention of the Komen brand from a Mainstream organization HALVED into an Official Right Wing Religious Political Organization.
PP is going to be FINE, in fact they will win the money race here but LOOK at the MONSTER that is left now that is SGK. The hypocrisy of this organization quietly defunding over $12 million in stem cel research THIS YEAR to state of the art research hospitals could only be considered the work of the Devil and counterproductive to the stated mission of SGK to find a cure for cancer, UNLESS you are a right wing religious organization totally lost in the echo of your own old testament bullshit.

Susan G Komen rolls in her grave somewhere, RIP.

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

After some further review I cannot find the source for the 17% pass through I cited, although it may have been a criticism of the amount that they are investing in RESEARCH, which in Nov 2011 they CUT $12 million in stem cell funding research to 4 state of the art Research Hospitals.

Based on this Charity Navigator report it looks like their pass through is more like 80%.

One other intg number is their current ratio of .52 or a half year cushion of funding before they would have to change how they distribute donations. IF they just lost HALF their base, and let's say they get a NEW .25 right wingnut breast cancer supporters who WON'T do just anything to find a cure for breast cancer if it involves stem cell research, then their current ration would STLL be cut by at least 25% to let's call it .39. So instead of having to change their distribution in a crisis (like they are having) in SIX months, it would drop to a little over 4 months, more or less depending on the NEW right wing nut breast cancer supporters who like the NEW violation of their stated mission.

THAT is the reason Komen will use to refuse the 2013 PP funding. Komen's drop in funding and increased burn rate and PP's pickup.

Time for Nancy Brinker to take a little trip to Peoria and revisit her sister's grave and the promise she made to her.


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