Karen Handel: Exposed

A Susan G. Komen insider told HuffPost on Sunday that
Karen Handel, Komen's staunchly anti-abortion and newly hired vice president for public policy, was the main force behind the breast cancer charity's 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on the day the Planned Parenthood decision was announced, which were reviewed by HuffPost under the condition they not be published, confirm the source's description of Handel's sole "authority" in crafting and implementing the Planned Parenthood policy...

...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."

Williams has previously declined to comment on why she left, but she told National Journal that she respects the work of Planned Parenthood...

...The backlash against Komen was intense...The charity struggled to deal with the pressure, especially in a face-off against Planned Parenthood, an organization whose fine-tuned political team has experience in these high-pitched, high-stakes debates....

..."Komen's not equipped to spend its days fighting political battles," the source said. "Abortion is not our issue, and...this investigation criteria...blew up in their faces. They were just naive in the face of [the] incredibly sophisticated Planned Parenthood operation."

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's politically tone-deaf."

In light of the political damage and the abrupt reversal of the Planned Parenthood funding decision, pressure has mounted inside Komen for Handel to resign.

"Everybody in the organization wishes she would do the right thing," the Komen insider said.

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