The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
             (AP Photo/John Bazemore)   

Former Komen for the Cure executive: Charity was ‘war on women’ pawn

Susan G. Komen for the Cure was a “pawn” in the formulation of the left’s “war on women” narrative, former Komen vice president for public policy Karen Handel believes.

In the new book ‘Planned Bullyhood,“ Handel writes of her skepticism when the organization brought in Democratically affiliated SKDKnickerbocker’s Hilary Rosen for advice before announcing the decision to end grants to Planned Parenthood, a policy that Komen subsequently reversed.

Handel suspected Rosen — who later gained national attention in April for claiming that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s wife, as a stay-at-home mom, “never worked a day in her life” — had also been working with Planned Parenthood at the time, despite Rosen’s assurance that the firm kept a “firewall between their clients.”

“Our hired experts — Hilary Rosen and SKDKnickerbocker — never portrayed Planned Parenthood as our enemy. But I should have known better. I should have pushed even harder about what I saw as a gross conflict of interest,” she writes in the book. “Given my political background, I should have anticipated the fury of the liberal — this was about Planned Parenthood, the icon of the left.”

In an interview with The Daily Caller, Handel spoke of her concerns at the time, implying that Rosen and SKDKickerbocker were not working in Komen for the Cure’s interests, but rather for Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Party.

“It was very disconcerting. I don’t know what transpired between SDKKnickerbocker and Planned Parenthood,” she said. “What I do know is that there is an improbable number of coincidences over the course of December and January that lead me to draw only one conclusion: that there was some sort of coordination and collaboration that was not in the best interest of Komen.”

SKDKnickerbocker said there was no coordination at all.

“We were in cahoots with nothing beyond our shared interest to combat breast cancer,” SKDKnickerbocker managing director Emily Lenzner wrote in an email to TheDC.

Leaks, timing and fast responses from the left side of the aisle, Handel said, led her to believe there was more going on.

“Here’s what I think,” she told TheDC. “I think that the left was already formulating this ‘war on women’ narrative and then Komen made its decision. And our timing — Komen’s timing — could not have been worse and we became sort of unwitting pawns, if you will, to lift up the whole narrative around that.”

“And I can only tell you that to sit down with Hilary Rosen and have her look me directly in the eye and tell me on that January 31 that there was nothing to worry about and smile sweetly — no one believes that,” she added. “I mean, how could anyone — I’ll let readers make their own conclusions, but I certainly did not buy that for one second.”

In an emailed statement to TheDC, Rosen rejected Handel’s account and blamed her for the decision to end the Planned Parenthood grants, a charge Handel has repeatedly denied despite her personal pro-life views.

“As has been stated repeatedly by others referenced or quoted in this book, Karen Handel’s version of events are not accurate,” Rosen wrote. “SKDKnickerbocker was retained by Komen on an issue unrelated and prior to the emergence of the Planned Parenthood issue.”

“When it became clear that Karen Handel’s radical anti-abortion agenda was driving the consideration of the issue, we helped the leadership of Komen move their position back to the support of Planned Parenthood funding and then resigned the account,” Rosen added.

“There is nothing political or partisan about breast health, yet Karen Handel let her personal politics get in the way of Komen’s mission and those that depend on the organization’s leadership.”

Follow Caroline on Twitter