Poor Handeling

As the Komen Foundation fiasco over its effort to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood continues to unwind, former vice president for policy and Georgia Republican pol Karen Handel continues to create mischief for her former employer. Yes, she quit her job at Komen yesterday, but instead of going on a long vacation from public attention, she’s now setting trashcan fires all over the place.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Jim Galloway, Handel lashed out at Planned Parenthood for a “vicious, vicious” campaign to hang onto its funding, but in doing so acknowledged that Komen’s decision to drop funding in the first place was a highly political reaction to pressure from anti-choice activists.

Handel’s prominent role in the dispute was also underlined by a WaPo report today on how the de-funding decision was actually made. In sharp contradiction to Handel’s claims that the whole deal went down before she was on the scene:

In early April, the board subcommittee held a conference call that included three Komen staff members, including Handel. Handel argued for defunding Planned Parenthood. Staff member Mollie Williams, who oversaw Komen’s community grants, argued to maintain funding. Leslie Aun, a communications official, warned of negative publicity if funding were cut off, according to a former Komen employee,

The consensus of the board subcommittee was to keep the funding, the former employee said.

The board itself decided otherwise.

At this point, Karen Handel has no connection with Komen, having quit her job and turned down a severance package (which would have, under normal circumstances, included a “confidentiality” clause keeping her from granting interviews). Quite possibly she is interested in a return to Georgia Republican politics, where Planned Parenthood is currently considered to be roughly equivalent to the special squads who manned Nazi Germany’s death camps. Her interest in helping Komen treat this saga as having arisen from a technical issue of grant-making is somewhere approaching zero.

It is increasingly clear that Komen’s decision to bring Karen Handel into its decision-making process was an act of monumental folly.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.