What Would It Take to Trust Komen Again?
I knew too that the Susan G. Komen Race for the CureTM had purposefully strived for a nonpartisan image (despite the fact that founder/CEO Nancy Brinker was a major Bush funder and ambassador) and that part of that was staying on the sidelines about issues of choice. A perfectly reasonable course.
But the board abandoned neutrality when, as part of a larger attack on Planned Parenthood that began with the antics of conservative pseudo-journalist James O’Keefe, pro-life groups began targeting Komen for their Planned Parenthood grants. They were assisted from the inside by new Senior VP for Public Policy Karen Handel, who’d recently run for governor of Georgia on a pro-life and stridently anti-Planned Parenthood platform, and further guided by Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer*. [Update: Handel finally fell on her sword and resigned on Feb. 7.]
Komen is a giant grant-making operation and it’s being run as if it were still a small family foundation. The core is a group of Brinker’s rich, Texan, conservative friends.
But all attention that’s been paid to the Handel/Fleischer deus ex machina, however, misses the greater culprit: a sucky board.
What do I mean?
The board of directors (not to be confused with Komen’s multitudinous advisory boards) currently has nine members. There’s Nancy Brinker, who founded Susan G. Komen in the name of her sister, who died of breast cancer. Brinker is a major mover and shaker in Dallas GOP circles, and a former major bundler, a.k.a. “Pioneer,” for George W. Bush. Also on the board is Brinker’s son Eric. Then there’s Dallas socialite/philanthropist/GOP donor/oil baroness/Junior Leaguer Linda Custard, who chairs the board of the elite Hockaday prep school (once attended by G.W. Bush’s daughters), and serves as a trustee for Southern Methodist University (eventual home to the G.W. Bush Library). Connie O’Neill has a similar portfolio; she