A roundup of Komen Foundation-related news from today:
- According to the Atlantic, the new supposed Komen rule against giving money to groups “under investigation” was explicitly crafted as a rationale to cut off Planned Parenthood grants:
But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new “no-investigations” rule applies to only one so far.) The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization’s new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is “pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”" [...]
“The cart came before the horse in this case,” said the source, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity. “The rule was created to give the board of directors the excuse to stop the funding of Planned Parenthood. It was completely arbitrary. If they hadn’t come up with this particular rule, they would have come up with something else in order to separate themselves from Planned Parenthood.”
- It isn’t just Planned Parenthood that’s being cut off. The Komen group also has instituted a new policy stating that they will not support cancer research efforts that use embryonic stem cells. For the association that trademarked “for the cure,” apparently there are ideological positions more important than a cure.
- The Komen Foundation spent the day in damage control mode, to little effect:
This decision has already been a disaster for the Komen Foundation. Its Facebook page has been inundated with critical comments that can’t be deleted fast enough. Former Komen Foundation supporters are encouraging others to give their dollars to other cancer research non-profits. Planned Parenthood supporters have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to make up for the lost Komen grants, including a $ 250,000 donation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Members of Congress are calling on the foundation to reverse its position. Komen Foundation affiliates around the country are criticizing the decision. And now the executive director of the foundation’s Los Angeles chapter has resigned in protest.
- You don’t have to be a marketing genius to know that this has been a gigantic gaffe for the foundation, whose ties to conservative (well, hardcore Republican) politics have until now have not gotten much attention:
Previously Komen stood out as a tremendous organizer and mobilizer of women across the political spectrum who would raise money like crazy for them. They kept it nice and simple, and non-controversial. Wear that pink ribbon and raise money to fight breast cancer. The abortion debate was nowhere in sight. It was all about the breasts, and not about the uterus. And I think that’s one thing that made them different — Komen was an organization that dealt with women’s health issues without getting caught up in the abortion debate, like most women’s organizations end up doing.
No more. They took a deep dive into the hot swirling waters head first (but apparently eyes shut). No matter what they do from here on out, they will be forced to pick sides, and that’s just awful for the Komen brand.
- Blowback. So much blowback.
- This is far from the first time the Komen Foundation has been seen as pursuing an explicitly conservative agenda. Behind the Pink Curtain:
They fought behind the scenes in my state to prevent the governor from adopting the Treatment Program. They worked for several years to stall or kill the Breast Cancer & Environmental Research Act. In the end, they eviscerated it by removing new funding for environmental research and substituting a panel to review all research on breast cancer & environment. Using private funds, they recently collaborated with the Institute of Medicine to develop said report. Released last December, it sadly detailed the same old arguments that there’s no evidence of links between environmental toxins and that no further research should be done on the subject since everyone has those toxins in their bodies already. Instead they chose to blame breast cancer patients for getting the disease (more here).
In 2009, Komen lobbied behind the scenes to weaken the health care bill (ACA) as it was being debated in Congress. They hired Hadassah Lieberman, wife of Joe, in an effort to convince Joementum to vote against the Public Option. Komen spent over $ 1 million in 2008 & 2009, on behind the scenes lobbying related to the health care reform bill, so who knows what else was on their agenda.
Nancy Brinker, the founder of Komen and sister of the famed, now deceased Susan G. Komen, has always thought of herself as a heavy hitting player in politics. As you’ve seen in other diaries, she raised millions for Bush’s election, as well as other GOP lawmakers. She was appointed by Bush to high positions in his administration. She has a very large ego and likes to play the role of political kingmaker, using her corporate backed non-profit organization to further her agenda.
- 22 Democratic senators sent Nancy Brinker, the group’s founder and CEO, a letter asking that the decision be reversed:
Komen funding for Planned Parenthood has provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and resulted in 6,400 referrals for mammograms. In 2011 alone, grants from Komen provided Planned Parenthood with roughly $ 650,000 in funding for breast cancer prevention, screening, and education. According to a recent statement by Komen, “In some areas of the U.S., our affiliates have determined a Planned Parenthood clinic to be the best or only local place where women can receive breast health care.”
It would be tragic if any woman —let alone thousands of women — lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack.
- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be giving a matching grant of $ 250,000 to Planned Parenthood as a result of the Komen decision. To donate to Planned Parenthood and have your money matched by Mayor Bloomberg, you can go here.
- On Guidestar.org, a site for rating nonprofit organizations, the Komen Foundation has plummeted to a one-star rating.
- Komen officers are also eager to clean up their unfortunate statements.
You can write to the Susan G. Komen Foundation here.