(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
The former vice president at the center of the controversy over Susan G. Komen foundation funding for Planned Parenthood is charging that Planned Parenthood orchestrated a "premeditated" liberal press and social media attack on Komen – describing "guerilla tactics" designed to pressure the foundation into funding the organization.
In an interview with Atlanta reporters, Karen Handel said Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), which has been aware of the decision for months, orchestrated a backlash upon announcement to boost donations and advocate pro-choice convictions that have little to do with fighting breast cancer, which is the mission of the Komen foundation.
"Everybody was taken aback by the fact that this (the PPFA backlash) was premeditated, orchestrated," she said. Planned Parenthood reportedly has a billion-dollar budget and could have easily weathered the $700,000 grant loss, Handel said.
According to Handel: "There were conversations between our organization and Planned Parenthood, letting them know about the change in the criteria and how it would affect Planned Parenthood."
Last Tuesday, the Komen foundation announced it would sever ties with the abortion provider because it was currently under congressional investigation and did not provide mammograms.
PPFA President Cecile Richards immediately followed with a statement saying that Komen "appears to have succumbed to political pressure." Richards did say in statements that PPFA was not surprised by the Komen decision.
PPFA later began sending out emails to their supporters encouraging them to make donations in light of the incident. The abortion provider raised $650,000 in one day. Of the sum, $400,000 was collected online from over 6,000 donors. PPFA normally collects 100 to 200 donations daily.
Additionally, PPFA's Breast Health Emergency Fund received two matching donations of $250,000.
"Komen was under the specific understanding that, while it was disappointing, that it was not going to be a media firestorm," Handel said. "Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood chose to go another direction."
Specifically, Handel said PPFA went the way of "guerilla campaigning." Comparatively, she said Komen was a sitting duck.
"Komen is a breast cancer organization. It's not an organization that knows guerrilla campaigning and guerrilla tactics like Planned Parenthood unleashed on Komen," she noted.
Three days later, Komen apologized for the political appearance of their policy change and promised to allow the abortion provider to apply for future grants.
Princeton University professor Robert P. George and University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture Director O. Carter Snead backed up Handel's charges Tuesday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
"Faced with even the tiniest depletion in the massive river of funds Planned Parenthood receives yearly, the behemoth mobilized its enormous cultural, media, financial and political apparatus to attack the Komen Foundation in the press, on TV and through social media," they wrote.
Handel refuted claims that she exerted her political will in the Komen foundation's decision to withhold funding. When asked if she herself had inserted her political influence as a former Republican candidate for governor of Georgia, Handel said, "I'm a professional, and when I come to Komen, my number one priority is the fight against breast cancer, our mission, and the women that we serve."
Handel resigned from Komen Tuesday after news reports fingered her as the person behind the Komen decision. Handel explained the resignation was voluntary.
"I had become an incredible focal point around all this, and it wasn't good for Komen," she said.