I’m now transcribing a pair of interviews that Karen Handel gave this afternoon on her resignation from Susan G. Komen for the Cure – one week after the breast cancer charity reversed itself on a decision to sever financial ties with Planned Parenthood.
Handel said nothing bad about her former employer – far from it. But in essence, she said that, by giving Planned Parenthood notice in mid-December, Komen allowed the group time to organize a national “pre-meditated” operation “that was nothing short of a shakedown to coerce a private entity to give them grants.”
Last week, Komen had said that Handel, hired as senior vice president in April, had nothing to do with the adoption of the charity’s policy. Clearly that’s not true, given her statements below. But Handel said Komen would have to explain the contradiction, not her.
Handel has quickly become the focus of pro-choice forces in the country – two years after her GOP run for governor, during which some pro-life forces in Georgia declared she wasn’t sufficiently sincere about the abortion issue.
“The irony of the this does not escape me,” Handel said. She was first asked about the reason for her resignation, which she described as voluntary:
Handel:”Clearly, I had become an incredible focal point around all this, and it wasn’t good for Komen. And what was in the best interest of the organization was for me to step aside, do this with you and let the organization move forward and re-focus on its mission.”
What was the motivation for the Komen attempt to cut Planned Parenthood grants?
Handel:”A couple things. First, back in 2010, Komen began a – long before my time – an attempted review of its grants, looking to improve the quality of its grants. In looking at that, they determined a couple of things that they really wanted to improve that would give higher impacts in the community.
“…It’s no secret that for a long time, well before my time coming to Komen, Komen was really facing a backlash out there, specific to the controversies surrounding the Planned Parenthood grants.
“That controversy started to intensify over the summer, with over a dozen – if not two dozen – Catholic dioceses around the country telling parishioners, don’t support Komen, leaving race teams, donor questions, et cetera. And I was tasked with identifying options that would allow us to move to neutral ground around this. So that we weren’t on either side of an issue that – pro-life or pro-choice, we all know there are differing positions on that.
“…Options were presented, and it was vetted at every level of the organization. The board reviewed it, and it was determined to move forward.”
How much of this had to do with your personal opposition to abortion?
Handel: “Absolutely none. I’m a professional, and when I come to Komen, my No. 1 priority is the fight against breast cancer, our mission, and the women that we serve. The only place for politics in all of this came from Planned Parenthood, when they launched this vicious, vicious attack on a great organization and perpetrated what was nothing short of a shakedown to coerce a private entity to give them grants.
“I think that all of us need to consider – this is a private, non-profit. And the last time I checked, they had every right, and indeed the responsibility, to set not only the highest criteria for quality grants, but the highest standards they can for their grantees.
“…For an outside organization to come in, in the way that Planned Parenthood did, and conduct a shakedown to force them to reverse, is absolutely outrageous.”
Did this surprise you?
Handel:“Everybody was taken aback by the fact that this was premeditated, orchestrated…. There were conversations between our organization and Planned Parenthood, letting them know about the change in the criteria and how it would affect Planned Parenthood. And Komen was under the specific understanding that, while it was disappointing, that it was not going to be a media firestorm.
“Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood chose to go another direction. Komen is a breast cancer organization. It’s not an organization that knows guerrilla campaigning and guerrilla tactics like Planned Parenthood unleashed on Komen…”
“Keep in mind that the grants for Planned Parenthood were $680,000 out of Planned Parenthood’s $1 billion. For an organization to try to purport itself as a breast services organization is simply not true. It’s abundantly clear that this was never about the fight against breast cancer for Planned Parenthood. What it was about, remains about, is the fight to advance Planned Parenthood’s agenda. And they sucked Komen into the middle of it, and they used them in all of this. It’s a disgrace.”
Like I said, more to come. Check back here in a few.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider