Tag Archives: Cecile Richards

Can Komen for the Cure be Reformed?

Nancy Brinker

New Orleans   To me the issue was settled.  Nancy Brinker and Komen for the Cure had caved into pressure from the right wing and Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood had taken them to the woodshed and taught them a lesson about what women really care about and in so doing administered a public humiliation that permanently damaged their “brand.”  That was it for me, but I assumed as long as they were still able to toady around with corporate BFFs and the pink marketing thing was alive that they would survive in some form or fashion.  I put it out of my mind.

Somehow the Non-Profit Times comes to my office.  Flipping pages on the phone the other day, I was surprised at the matter-of-fact call for Nancy Brinker’s resignation that its editor-in-chief Paul Clolery was making.  For a publication that depends on the good will, advertisements, and subscriptions of big time nonprofits to survive, for them to take up the hatchet – repeatedly it turns out – and call for someone’s head was a surprise, and unprecedented it seems.

Their bill of particulars in indicting Brinker for “inept management” was detailed and troubling.   It turns out that the whipping from Planned Parenthood forced some hard looks at the Komen operation, and it was stomach turning in the facts found and conclusions reached:

  • Brinker has been running the outfit like a “family business.”
  • The 990 filed with the IRS indicates that she was reimbursed by Komen while a full time employee of the Bush Administration as ambassador to Hungary and Chief of Protocol at the White House.
  • Many are saying she was “lying” because there had been “internal discussions” about cutting off funding to any organizations “where abortions are counseled, funded or provided.”  The claim about an investigation has been proven to be nothing more than a smokescreen, as was obvious to all.
  • The 9-person board includes her son and seems far from independent.  It has also been clear from other statements that they had signed off on this fig leaf about denying funding because of so-called investigations.
  • Komen has been courting controversy by aggressively litigating against other nonprofits who use the phrase “for the cure” as well as having made some sketchy corporate deals with companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken where some had turned against “Buckets for the Cure.”

And, if that’s not all, a chart they published without comment was shocking to me.  Nancy Brinker’s Komen operation is 1/3rd the size of Planned Parenthood, yet even living in Dallas she was paying herself $70,000 more than Cecile Richards living in NYC.  Both are making 1% money and running big operations, but geez, that doesn’t seem right.

Breast cancer is bad stuff and a cure needs to be found.  Maybe Komen can still play a role in that, but under Brinker it seems to have gone from being about the legacy of a lost sister to being all about Brinker.  The NonProfit Times is right on this one.  It’s time to find the EXIT sign and get back to real business for women, not just family business for one woman.


Parenthood Backers Rally, Komen Foundation Permanently Damaged

New Orleans  For a change we’re winning one against the right wing strategy of progressive institution defunding. This is a Texas-style bare knuckles dispute, and I’m so proud of the way Cecile Richards stepped into the ring here that I could just spit!

The Susan Komen Foundation folks are headquartered in Dallas so they should’ve known a mess was coming.  Sure they were easily surrounded by the Southern Baptist Convention and some of their largest churches are in Dallas, so they should have been used to the climate, rather than folding like a cheap skirt.  Cecile is a Texas woman through and through and the daughter of a fighting labor lawyer and a fire-fun-and-fury woman, Ann Richards, former Texas governor and freedom fighter, none of which should have made the pink people think that when they go after women, Cecile and Planned Parenthood were going to meekly creep to the corner and let it go down.

We’ve been through how thin, hypocritical, and fictional the excuse that Komen came up with to defund Planned Parenthood in order to either curry favor from right wing pols and anti-abortion zealots or to cave into their bullying.   Picking between those two paths should pretty much disqualify Komen from any future pretense as an advocate for women and their health.   The lead editorial in the Times appropriately called their rationale a “fig leaf,” but frankly that dishonors an excellent tree and a delicious fruit.  This was subterfuge and a lie, pure and simple.

I was shocked to see how little Komen was supporting Planned Parenthood, even when they were supposedly long time partners.  A $94 million operation that funded 2000 groups around community health initiatives was only providing $700,000 in support?  Seems way small, and this has been a long time criticism of Komen that so much of its pink-thing, branding emphasis, and change-through-marketing strategy was distracting and not really doing all it could and should about women’s health and its declared mission around breast cancer.

So far the lost money has been replaced by individual donors, some 6000, and pledges by folks like Mayor Bloomberg.   That’s not enough to declare victory.

Cecile and Planned Parenthood have seized the initiative by creating a campaign around the stark cynicism and cowardice that allows all of these rightwing, gotcha strategies to work.  They prey on the weak and unprincipled who are so afraid that they could be next or that they might have trouble that rather than banding to protect their partners and friends when under attack, they run for the hills with their tails between their legs and hope nobody notices them.  This is what happened on the ACORN attack.  Friends and allies pulled up the covers and hoped it wouldn’t happen to them.  This is what board members of Komen have publicly confessed.  They didn’t analyze the merits of the scurrilous attacks on Planned Parenthood or the impact on the women they had claimed were their mission, they simply deserted them, trying to save themselves.  Shame, shame, shame!

And hooray for all the women, including some within the Komen ranks who have resigned and are protesting (all 7 branches in California!), who have finally said “enough is enough” to these kinds of unprincipled attacks and stood up for Planned Parenthood.

Now if we could get men to grow backbones as well, and, if we could get everyone to stand together for a change, we could finally take the teeth out of this attack on progressive institutions before more of them are caught in the vortex that sank ACORN and has rolled Planned Parenthood over the last year.

Put a ribbon around that, and I’ll wear it!

Update:  Victory, Komen Foundation Restores Funds to Planned Parenthood.  Way to go in stopping the rightwing!