Oftentimes after a major development, I wait until the smoke settles before sifting through the ashes to uncover where the blaze started, but the raging forest fire that began with the Susan G. Komen Foundation's (SGK) decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) can't be contained. This is due in large measure to SGK's own founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker who has flamed the fires every time she's opened her mouth. Duplicity, hypocrisy and lies do have a tendency to blow up in one's face, leaving a firestorm of gigantic proportions in its wake.This is the lead paragraph from when I started writing this piece a couple of days ago, but at this point, any fuel I might add to the fire would just be anticlimactic and more than a little redundant. There are a few issues, however, that are important enough (at least to me) to bear repeating, not the least of which is SGK's tilt toward the right-to-life-until-birth belief, which has in fact been driving this organization for some years now.
Anytime a huge corporatist charity with total revenues of $357,832,083 (and which compensates its CEO to the tune of $417,171) catches its pants on fire, charitable minded souls grab their shovels and start digging. For the past week, the Internet has been a veritable goldmine of revelations about the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which became the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure when it changed and trademarked its name in 2007. So, besides providing $680,000 in grant monies to PPFA for breast health services, SGK spends over a million bucks a year suing lesser known charities for trademark infringement.
So far, Komen has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred of these Mom and Pop charities, including Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure--and many of the organizations are too small and underfunded to hold their ground.Excuses, Excuses
The first excuse CEO Brinker gave for slashing PPFA behind the knees in a sneak attack with a machete was that the foundation's "new" rules prevented providing grant monies to organizations that were under federal investigation. The sheer hypocrisy of this flimflam excuse is highlighted by Daily Kos:
The most obvious grant that highlighted Komen's hypocrisy was the $7.5 million to Penn State (Penn State is under federal investigation for its role in a sexual abuse scandal). Others were just as embarrassing. Days before the Komen scandal erupted, the USDA announced it launched an investigation into Harvard's treatment of primates in its research labs. The Education Department had just announced an investigation into whether Harvard discriminated against Asian-Americans in its undergraduate admissions policies. Meanwhile, two members of Komen's prestigious Scientific Advisory Board work at Harvard, while Harvard Medical School and the affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute received over a million dollars in Komen funding.
From Komen-funded hospitals being investigated for Medicare fraud (example) to Komen-funded universities being investigated for civil rights violations, it became immediately apparent that the "local, state or federal investigation" prohibition cast a shadow over a substantial portion of Komen's good work. Within hours of the scandal breaking, it was clear Komen needed a new excuse.
And Brinker managed to contrive a couple of more disingenuous excuses when she appeared on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" and "proclaimed that the real reason Komen cut off almost all grants to Planned Parenthood was because 'many of the grants were education-oriented. We don't need to do that kind of education anymore' (watch the video here)."As if that wasn't flimmmy-flammy enough, Brinker added:
“It was nothing they were doing wrong,” Brinker said of Planned Parenthood. “We have decided not to fund, wherever possible, pass-through grants. We were giving them money; they were sending women out for mammograms. What we would like to have are clinics where we can directly fund mammograms.”Well now, I've yet to have a doctor feel my boobies and then walk me into an adjacent room for a mammography. I've always been referred to a breast center for an appointment, usually within a hospital, that specializes in and has the expensive equipment required to photograph the deepest recesses of my bosooms.
The absurdity of Brinker's claims are proven by Georgia Logothetis in this same article for Daily Kos. She took the most recent filings with the IRS and "put the grant data from both Komen's Parent and Group filings into public spreadsheets here and here. The classifications of "education," "treatment," "research" and "screening" are Komen's own grant classifications."
This morning, the Washington Post printed a letter from Nancy Brinker where she apologized and admitted, "I have made some mistakes." You have indeed, Mrs. Brinker but you've lost all credibility at this point.
So, Who Lit the First Spark?
If you're thinking the dreadful Karen Handel, you're thinking only partly right. Yes, she is indeed dreadful, but no, she didn't start the fire. In Part 1, I wrote:
As in all non-profit organizations, the board of directors exists to oversee and direct its operations. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens, without their approval and the approval of its CEO, who in this case just happens to be its founder Nancy G. Brinker.Handel has resigned as Senior Vice President for Public Policy but she never should have been hired in the first place - a decision that was made on the part of Brinker and the board. No doubt, Handel's campaign promise to defund Planned Parenthood as she ran for (and lost) the governorship of Georgia was very attractive to Brinker, who is herself a devoted pro-life-until-birth advocate.
Brinker has given big bucks "to Republican candidates and committees, including anti-abortion politicians such as President George W. Bush and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., according to Federal Election Commission records."
Before there was a Karen Handel, there was Eve Sanchez Silver, a charter member of The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's National Hispanic/Latina Advisory Council. Silver resigned in 2004 when she learned that "some of SGK's local chapters gave money to PPFA affiliates to pay for breast exams for low-income women."
“You cannot be a life-affirming organization in league with an organization that kills people,” Silver said.What this right-to-life-until-birth nonentity is really saying is that fetuses must be protected so that women, poor or otherwise, can die from breast cancer later in life. After leaving Komen, Silver's new mission became putting pressure on Komen to defund Planned Parenthood, which she and her minions did with gusto over the years - in part by threatening to boycott the events and to stop frequenting the businesses that sponsor them.
When Stearns began his bogus investigation last September, this paved the way for abortion opponents to increase their pressure on SGK. It also offered Handel a golden opportunity but she no doubt had help in board member Jane Abraham.
. . . Komen board member Jane Abraham is anti-choice. She is also the general chairman of the Susan B. Anthony list, a group known for their anti-choice stance as well as their influence within the Republican party. Abraham helps direct the Nurturing Network, a global network of pregnancy crisis centers famous for spreading false medical information and using coercion and intimidation to force women not to undergo abortions. Maureen Scalia, wife of rabidly anti-choice supreme court justice, Anthony Scalia, is also on the board of Nurturing Network.The bottom line is that SGK had been bowing to and actively courting the pro-life-until-death forces for years. While it may have been Handel's proposal to insert a "new" rule denying grant monies to organizations that were under federal investigation, it was the CEO and the board of directors who approved it.
You know what is really amazing - and very telling - to me? Brinker has been quoted time and again as being "stunned" by the reaction from the media, politicians and Planned Parenthood supporters. She was "stunned?" Just how insular can a person be?
If the foundation ever hopes to polish its tarnished reputation, they need to clean house - starting at the top and working across the board.