Controversial Komen Executive Resigns

February 7, 2012 5:47 am

The Associated Press reports that Komen Foundation vice-President Karen Handel has quit the cancer charity. 

As soon as news broke a week ago that the organization would cease to fund Planned Parenthood, media reports centered on the former politician as a potential source for the decision. Handel, who was hired in April of 2011 after an unsuccessful run for Governor of Georgia, had campaigned saying she would cut state money to Planned Parenthood. A report from the Huffington Post Monday cited sources within Susan G. Komen for the Cure naming Handel as the force behind the decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

Handel’s resignation came in a letter delivered to Komen officials Tuesday morning. In the letter, Handel defended the decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. Though she acknowledged she played a role in the decision, Handel’s letter stresses that Planned Parenthood has been a point of concern to Komen officials for years and that the decision went through all the proper channels including being vetted by the organization’s board:

Komen’s decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization’s real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization.

Handel’s letter, then, would seem to make it difficult for the organization to use her resignation to shut down the controversy or attribute it to one individual.

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