As I pointed out last week, long time employees at the Susan G Komen Foundation who have spent years there developing the brand and creating what was previously thought to be an unstoppable force, must hate VP of Public Policy Karen Handel’s guts with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. So it should come as no surprise that someone would leak internal documents showing that Handel was behind the whole Planned Parenthood debacle and defended it to the bitter end:
…a Komen insider told HuffPost on Sunday that Karen Handel, Komen’s staunchly anti-abortion vice president for public policy, was the main force behind the decision to defund Planned Parenthood and the attempt to make that decision look nonpolitical.
“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on the day the Planned Parenthood decision was announced, which were reviewed by HuffPost under the condition they not be published, confirm the source’s description of Handel’s sole “authority” in crafting and implementing the Planned Parenthood policy.
“Komen’s been dealing with the Planned Parenthood issue for years, and you know, some right-wing groups would organize a protest or send out a mailing every now and then, but it was on a low simmer,” the source said. “What Karen’s been doing for the past six months is ratcheting up the issue with leadership. Every time someone would even mention a protest, she would magnify it, pump it up, exaggerate it. She’s the one that kept driving this issue.”
Handel and Komen President Elizabeth Thompson didn’t respond to requests for comment.
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.”
As vice president of public policy, it’s Handel’s job is to help shape the image of the Komen Foundation and provide guidance and strategy of how to sell that image to the public. But in the face of massive donor fallout, she refused to back down because her mission (damaging Planned Parenthood) was more important to her than Komen’s mission (making money, creating a warm and fuzzy female empowerment vibe, and incidentally funding breast cancer research).
Stunned by the fallout, Komen leadership decided within three days to reverse the Planned Parenthood decision and apologize. But the Komen insider said Handel was furious about the cave and fought against it up until the point that it was announced Friday morning.
“It became clear Thursday night that something had to give,” the source said. “Nancy Brinker, Liz Thompson, the board, and leadership were saying, ‘We’re really worried about Komen’s mission if we don’t figure this out.’ But Karen was still arguing against it as of Friday morning — she was horrified that we were caving, she said. She’s politically tone-deaf.”
Karen Handel is the Michael D. Brown of the Susan B. Komen Foundation… only less qualified and without the good sense and decency to quit.
(Updated): Looks like taps for Handel.