For 29 years Nancy Brinker and Susan G. Komen for the Cure enjoyed the adoration of the masses. There is no better story than launching an organization to stop breast cancer at the request of one’s dying sister.
Brinker also enjoyed bipartisan political favor as a wealthy Republican who had received appointments from every GOP president since Ronald Reagan and also as a pro-abortion liberal who sat on the board of her local Planned Parenthood, was friends with CEO Cecile Richards, and had received the Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
So it may be no wonder Brinker’s leadership team was totally unprepared for the Left’s assault when they tried to defund Planned Parenthood. They likely had grown to believe their own hype.
The other problem was so many on Brinker’s leadership team were Planned Parenthood sympathizers whose loyalty rested with it rather than beating breast cancer when put to the test.
How naive were Brinker and Komen? They hired public relations consultants that were Democrat and Planned Parenthood operatives.
Here’s a pretty unbelievable list of all the players, according to former Komen exec Karen Handel in her new book, Planned Bullyhood, who I also interviewed for this story:
Leslie Aun, Komen’s VP of Communications, who resigned following the debacle: Handel described Aun to me as an “in-your-face liberal.” In her book, Handel wrote of Komen’s very first conference call regarding PP, regarding Richards’ mammogram claim on Joy Behar’s talk show, during which Aun said Komen couldn’t walk away from PP because it would “deal PP a body blow,” an exact quote according to Handel’s notes from the call.
Liz Thompson, Komen’s President, who has now also resigned: Described in Handel’s book as “friends” with Richards. “They frequently crossed paths and had sat on numerous panels together.”
Affiliates: Handel told me in our interview the Komen affiliates most against the PP decision were those in New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and California. Others joined with them, but these were the instigators. Staff at several of these affiliates are previous PP employees, volunteers, and/or board members. A detailed Q&A was distributed to them in the summer of 20111, before the decision, “a big mistake,” according to Handel, because it contained too many details. People within Komen handed it over to to PP, giving PP its ammunition.
During a follow-up affiliates meeting Handel wrote in her book that several executive directors actually said “the right to choose” trumped Komen’s mission, and if Komen suffered, so be it.
Ogilvy Public Relations/Brendan Daly: Ogilvy was and still may be Komen’s primary PR consultant. Brendan Daly was the account rep. Daly is a longtime Democrat who previously worked for Nancy Pelosi as Communications Director, where he and Richards also worked together.
SKDKnickerbocker/Hilary Rosen: Yes, that Hilary Rosen (pictured below right). Komen hired SKD to manage the Left on a variety of issues, including PP and this environmental study it thought would attract liberal ire. According to Handel, the connections between Rosen, the White House, Democrats, and PP run deep:
- Anita Dunn is a managing partner in SKD, formerly the White House Communications Director under Obama.
- At the same time SKD was handling PR for Komen, it was doing PR work for PP. According to Handel in our interview, “Rosen told me directly that it was nothing to worry about it because SKD kept a ‘firewall between clients.’”
- Rosen was Komen’s go-between with Planned Parenthood, tasked, for instance, with arranging the call between Thompson and Richards.
- Rosen was involved in Komen’s communications strategy discussions from the beginning. Rosen actually crafted the initial language that was so focused on investigations against PP – a focus Handel felt was not at all appropriate for external audiences and the press.
- Rosen/SKD did consulting work for the DNC and specifically worked to help media train Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
- Rosen and PP VP of Policy Dawn Laguens know one another well. Their children are in the very same class at a small private school in D.C.
- Rosen is a former editor for Huffington Post - the outlet of choice for all Komen leaks.
Lenzner’s husband is Peter Cherukuri, the managing partner of the Washington office for HuffPo, again,the go-to media outfit for all leaks from within Komen. Not in the book: Lenzner’s parents started a charitable trust that contributes to PP.
Tomorrow: “Komen betrayed from within, Part II: The coincidences”