Karen Handel as the prime mover in the Komen decision

Another look at the role of Karen Handel, former GOP candidate for governor of Georgia, in the decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to separate itself from Planned Parenthood, just posted by the Huffington Post:

“Karen Handel was the prime instigator of this effort, and she herself personally came up with investigation criteria,” the source, who requested anonymity for professional reasons, told HuffPost. “She said, ‘If we just say it’s about investigations, we can defund Planned Parenthood and no one can blame us for being political.’”

Emails between Komen leadership on the day the Planned Parenthood decision was announced, which were reviewed by HuffPost under the condition they not be published, confirm the source’s description of Handel’s sole “authority” in crafting and implementing the Planned Parenthood policy.

Handel’s strategy to cut off Planned Parenthood involved drafting new guidelines that would prevent Komen from funding any organization that was under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Since Planned Parenthood is currently the target of a congressional inquiry prompted by House Republicans into the way it uses government funds, the family planning provider would have been immediately disqualified from receiving new Komen grants….

The source said Handel submitted a final version of the new grant criteria to Komen leadership in November, and the board approved it in December, at which point Komen’s top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned “on the spot.”

“It was apparent to everyone in the organization that Karen was doing everything in her power to defund Planned Parenthood,” the source said, “and that’s why Mollie Williams quit.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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38 comments Add your comment

Katherine Helms Cummings

February 5th, 2012
8:39 pm

Anyone who has paid any attention to Handel’s politics could see her fingerprints all over this policy. Kudos to every staffer who resigned because this was a politically driven decision. I sent 5 Race for the Cure t-shirts and address labels back to Komen addressed Handel. I made two donations to Planned Parenthood last week, the larger in Handel’s honor. I am a breast cancer survivor and I quit supporting Komen after the “Sue for the Cure” scandal was report by Stephen Colbert.

judith brown

February 5th, 2012
9:00 pm



You know what to do.

B. Thenet

February 5th, 2012
9:03 pm

Is anyone really surprised? It was pretty obvious from the way that the Right To Life movement was celebrating the initial decision to defund PP that someone within their ranks was involved.

The real damage done to Komen was not from their ruffling the feathers of pro-choice women, but the open display of how utterly incompetent the executives of the Komen organization are. There are surely better run breast cancer research charities than this.


February 5th, 2012
9:04 pm

Power corrupts and the Susan G. Komen Foundation has apparently succumbed to its power and prestige. I love their attitude: we can do what we want, make up whatever lame excuse we want, and everyone will believe us! I get it didn’t turn out that way. After reading about this issue for much of the day, I have never seen so many angry comments against an organization they loved a week ago.

[...] too little, too late for Komen, bioethicist saysmsnbc.comNew York Times -Washington Post -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 1,514 news [...]


February 5th, 2012
9:21 pm

Perhaps now people can start to give money to other diseases and afflictions that need money as well. Komen has been sucking money out of other ’causes’ for years now…not that breast cancer research is worthwhile, but the funding has been due to PR rather than the most worthy (there are plenty of diseases just as worthy of funding, but they haven’t been able to raise it due to Komen).

Real American

February 5th, 2012
9:34 pm

Well kudos to Karen Handel…she single-handedly demolished all the credibility and goodwill the Komen Foundation had been building for 20 years. They have survived the gross commercialization of breast cancer, survived suing any and everybody for the smallest of infractions over their “trademark’, Race for the Cure….they’ve managed to fly under the radar with their 7 figure salaries for their top execs while other non-profits are constantly bashed for it…but they got through it…but never underestimate the incredible arrogance, overreach and downright stupidity of a wingnut.

Thanks Karen!

B. Thenet

February 5th, 2012
9:37 pm

The sad thing is that after doing something that caused severe damage from a PR and fundraising perspective to the company she worked for, she is going to be lauded as a hero in the culture wars by the right and end up getting some well paying do nothing job for a group like the Susan B. Anthony List or some other right wing charity.

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

February 5th, 2012
9:39 pm

@atlmom, you are so right.


February 5th, 2012
9:39 pm

They should’ve just asked the people of GA.

We have already decided karen handel is not qualified to speak for other people.

[...] Angeles TimesMight be too little, too late for Komen, bioethicist saysmsnbc.comNew York Times -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Washington Examinerall 1,520 news [...]

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

February 5th, 2012
9:45 pm

If Karen had any ethics or a conscience, she would resign for causing this debacle. Susan Komen wielded as much power and prestige as any charitable foundation could expect to and Karen walked in with her political agenda and trashed it within a matter of weeks. It’s amazing that she was willing to risk the health and lives of so many to advance her own personal beliefs. I guess I never realized what a selfish egomaniac she was before.


February 5th, 2012
11:14 pm

I agree completely, Real American. Handel has never been anything but a minor political hack with an ego to match Newtie Boy’s. She and other right wing fundamentalist Philistines like her represent only a very small slice of the American public but are hell bent on forcing the tail to wag the dog in their image. We must never allow them to succeed. As soon as I discovered that she held a high position in the Komen hierarchy I knew exactly who was behind this atrocious power play. Komen must get rid of her immediately to have any chance of regaining trust and respectability. The only problem with that is that she would then come back here to help continue this state’s relentless drive towards backwardness and mediocrity.


February 5th, 2012
11:38 pm

You might also note that in the furor, most Komen supporters were surprised to find out that only 20% of the funds that Komen raises goes to research and only another 5% goes to treatments. For those interested in verifying that go to the komen financial page on their site and download their 990 form and see for yourselves.

People also learned that Komen quietly cut 12 million dollars from cancer stem cell research.

“That means the loss of $3.75 million to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, $4.5 million to the University of Kansas Medical Center, $1 million to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, $1 million to the Society for Women’s Health Research, and $600,000 to Yale University. That’s a loss of nearly $12 million dollars in research money to eradicate breast cancer this year alone.”

To verify that Google “Susan G. Komen Foundation Also Stops Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research”

and then we have learned that they have been bullying other organizations.

to verify that Google “Susan G. Komen Foundation Elbows Out Charities Over Use Of The Word ‘Cure’

That on top of lying about why they cut Planned Parenthood funding, not once but at least two times and they are only now trying to come clean if you can believe their latest explanation.

IMHO this latest explanation sounds like spin, they are giving Handel up hoping that it will stop the bleeding but the full board approved the move. They even go so far as to blame Planned Parenthood for the whole mess. Not one dime from me will go to them.


February 6th, 2012
1:53 am

Komen had no business giving money to Planned Parenthood – who never performed mammograms themselves – should be a non issue.

Neal Norvell

February 6th, 2012
4:12 am

SKG has done some good things in the past but this outweighs all of the good they have ever done. Who needs them. Planned Parenthood is under assault from the extreme right wing of the GOP (Gay Oppressive People). Like I said who needs them I am sending my $25 donation directly to Planned parenthood and hope that SGK folds due to the actions of Karen Handel and Nancy Brinker. This is exactly what these two women need to be remembered for. And may their careers end immdiately


February 6th, 2012
6:00 am

This job was supposed to be a stepping stone for that power hungry politician, Karen Handel.  Now that this decision has blown up in her face, she may be sidelined for a while.  But don’t count her out because she still has lots of idiot supporters here in Georgia and elsewhere. I wouldn’t be too harsh on Kormen, though.  Handel is just very, very pursuasive.

Sanders Kaufman

February 6th, 2012
6:43 am

The good news is that Americans were able to shame the Republicans into behaving… this time.


February 6th, 2012
6:48 am

JEEEEHAAAAD, Karen, JEEEEEEHAAAAAAAD! Single handedly almost destroyed this good organization in the name of her …………….. religion.

Don Quixote

February 6th, 2012
6:53 am

Sancho and I invite our right wing-nut friends to join us as we tilt at some windmills.

Ga Values...Ron Paul for Peace & Prosperity

February 6th, 2012
6:59 am

I have done 3 60 milers & am not sure I’ll do another. Let’s let the dust settle before doing anything.

Real Athens

February 6th, 2012
7:01 am

AJC withholding the Nathan Deal financial disaster? Huh? What? Do a google search, mouth breather. The AJC lead the investigation into shady Deal. The GOP still elected him. Wake up and put on your head gear, new guy. Public education in Georgia has been under assault since 2000.


February 6th, 2012
7:21 am

I wonder how Karen Handel feels now that she has permanently destroyed the brand.


February 6th, 2012
7:26 am

Ah wrong public education has gone done the dark hole since Brown verses the Board of Education, when they desegregated the schools in the 50’s and all the folks with money went to private schools or religious schools. Just like in Buckhead now they are more interested in building unneeded schools to make connected people money rather make the academics better. Take the Chamber of Commerce out of the equation and see how much better the schools become. Common sense says put a salary cap on the Hope, most rich folks do not buy the tickets anyway and if you make over 150 grand a year, cut out one of your vacation homes to send you kid to college.


February 6th, 2012
7:30 am

Karen is typical of a bigot, she does not see the problem, the problem is with all of us that care about a woman’s health no matter the religious affiliation. Koman spends over a million a year on lawyers alone to protect the brand name, what a waste.


February 6th, 2012
7:49 am

Now is a good time to evaluate ALL large, well publicized charities and determine what they DO in comparison to their BRAND.

There are some places where a BRAND might make the difference in an impulse purchase…..

Appropriate charitable giving isn’t one of them.

Bill Orvis White

February 6th, 2012
9:02 am

Anyone who stands up for life is good in my book. I love Karen Handel and she, like anyone who fights for life, God, country and our second amendment rights, is invited over to my house for prayer and pie.

professional skeptic

February 6th, 2012
9:03 am

February 5th, 2012
11:38 pm

Tom, you hit the nail on the head. To be certain, Karen Handel played a role in this debacle, but the board members and other leadership were the ones who welcomed Handel with open arms in the first place. Birds of a feather, if you ask me.

Karen H. deserves all the bad press she’s currently receiving, but for SGK to sit there and finger-point and try to pin all the blame on her is just… laughable. A pitiful attempt at self preservation.

The SGK board hired Karen, gave her safe harbor with a cushy salary until her next run for office, and they approved her policy decisions. The whole organization now has to lie in the bed that it made for itself.

Dianna Young

February 6th, 2012
10:39 am

Komen wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to be a successful, money-making corporation and not give to the charities who provide the services they allegedly fund. It knows it won’t take in as much money as it does now if it accurately advertises its mission – we promote religious right issues. But it WANTS all that money (e.g., half a million dollar salaries for its administrators!), so it lies to the American people about caring for women when it only cares for women who support anti-women politics. Komen can’t have its cake and eat it too. Choose, like everyone else has to – money or social services. No one believes your “statements” any more. We’re not as stupid as you hope.

Look before I leap...

February 6th, 2012
12:19 pm

I am amazed that SGK hasn’t tossed Handel out on her ass yet.
SGK gets kudos for very effectively raising public awareness about breast cancer, but they have been rotting from the inside now for years. High salaries for administrators, lower and lower percentages of donations for actual research and more right-wing politically motivated decision making about funds allocations.

Thanks to the wing-nuts and Karen Handel in particular, SGK has self-inflicted a possibly fatal wound.


February 6th, 2012
12:43 pm

I do think SGK is going to take a severe hit on this one. A classic example of organizers that start out to do good in the world and then end up becoming corrupted by power and money. Until at least Handel is shown the door, I have no interest in pink ribbons. And maybe we need to get rid of the current board of directors entirely at SGK. They have forgotten their mission.


February 6th, 2012
1:21 pm

So…..how much money has Planned Parenthood given to the Susan G. Komen Foundation?? Right!!! SGK should use their donations to FIND THE CURE!!! Until, that happens, do not give any money to another charity.

[...] According to Huffington Post: [...]

Question Man

February 6th, 2012
2:56 pm

Should one of Komen’s qualifications for VPs be that people have a college degree? Any guesses as to how much Handel’s meddling will cost Komen?


February 6th, 2012
3:00 pm

You can’t tell me that some Right To Life women don’t take birth control pills? Republicans need to give it up on the “women’s body issues”, there are Republican women who also rely on Planned Parenthood and do take birth control pills. You saw what happened in Mississippi all ready.. Do your homework repubs.


February 6th, 2012
5:13 pm

Karen has become the face of this Koman controversy. it will be a matter of time before the two part ways.
The Sooner the Better……….

Johnny One Time

February 6th, 2012
5:39 pm

The last time a republican cared about my rights, I was in the womb!


February 6th, 2012
5:44 pm

Instead of preoccupying herself with stuff like abortion and gay marriage, Karen Handel should really start thinking about what in the hell she’s going to do next for a job. I really want to believe that she will be seen as a pariah to even the most conservative of organizations. Here’s to hoping she’s forever remembered as an epic failure!