Despite the efforts of Susan G. Komen to begin to repair its reputation,… (Rex C. Curry / Associated…)
The fur continues to fly in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure/Planned Parenthood flap as a former board member calls for the resignation of Komen founder and chief executive Nancy Brinker and a full replacement of the current board.
Eve Ellis, who served on the Komen board for six years and is a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in New York, issued a letter to family and friends that wound up being published by the U.K. newspaper the Guardian. She starts out praising the organization, calling it "the #1 breast cancer organization by a long shot," and gives herself props for raising, with her spouse, more than $250,000 in six years.
(Those who need a primer on the entire Komen/Planned Parenthood saga can read this.)
It's pretty much downhill from there. On Brinker's apology, issued as a statement last week, Ellis wrote, "Brinker's words struck me as vague and hollow--no future commitment to Planned Parenthood and no specific apology to the low-income women who would have become the collateral damage from the defunding.
"I also don't believe Brinker and her board when she claims that Komen's decision wasn't political."
She also dings Brinker for her links to the George W. Bush administration and for recently hiring Ari Fleischer, Bush's former White House press secretary, for help on crisis communication. Then the big guns come out as she calls for Brinker to resign, the board to be replaced, and vice president Karen Handel to be fired. She got one wish out of the three--well, sort of. Handel resigned last week and reiterated that politics had nothing to do with Komen's initial decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
Starting over with new leaders in place, Ellis said, "would enable Komen to carry on its much-needed, admirable work without the baggage of being the organization that had actually deliberated on and subsequently made the heartless decision to defund Planned Parenthood and to endanger the health of thousands of women. When we have a clean house, we should get answers to how this happened, and a clear refocus that Komen stands for all women's health."
There was another verbal dust-up regarding Komen over at the Washington Post this week, as veteran journalist Sally Quinn wrote a long open letter to Brinker expressing her dismay at the initial decision and what ensued.
"We have known each other for a long time and I have admired your work enormously," it begins. The bloom is probably off that rose. She questions Brinker's commitment to continue to fund Planned Parenthood and adds that Brinker "should have seen the writing on the wall" when she hired Handel, an outspoken abortion critic.
"Betrayed," she addded. "I think that's the perfect word for how so many people feel. You are going to have to do a lot of work to repair that feeling."
In a letter published in the Washington Post, Brinker responded to Quinn, saying, "I made some mistakes. In retrospect, we have learned a lot and must now rebuild the trust that so many want to have in us, and respond to the many thousands who continue to believe in our mission and do what we do best: the funding of cutting-edge science and to bring that work to our communities to help the hundreds of thousands of women we serve each year. ... I apologize to all who are disappointed in us, and will work hard to restore your trust."
It doesn't end there. The Post's Jena McGregor on Thursday called Brinker's letter to Quinn, "An apology that reads like only half of one.
"Brinker does not say exactly what she is sorry for," McGregor writes. "She does not explore what mistakes she made. And she does not address several of the points in Quinn's letter, from the ambiguity of Komen's decision to allow Planned Parenthood to reapply--though not necessarily be funded--to why her institution's shifting explanations for its controversial move were so confusing."
Is it over? We doubt it. Stay tuned.