Exit the Scapegoat at Komen. Who’s Next?


As expected, Karen Handel has resigned as VP of public affairs for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Her resignation can be perceived as part of the organization's response to the public outcry over its decision—since reversed—to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

Komen had been criticized for claiming that its decision to cut off funding was rooted in new criteria about supporting organizations being investigated by Congress, and was not politically motivated. Handel was a GOP candidate for governor in Georgia in 2010, and defunding Planned Parenthood was reportedly part of her platform. Once that connection was made public, it was clear that Handel's days were numbered.

The message inherent in the sole departure of Handel is that she was behind the decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. In other words, it's a case of a top communicator at an organization being made the scapegoat—not the most original or effective strategy ever used in a crisis.

An unnamed source inside the Komen organization told the Huffington Post that Handel was the "prime instigator of this effort." Handel, meanwhile, told Fox News today that she acknowledges her involvement in the decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, but to suggest that she had sole authority "is just absurd."

To pin the blame on one person doesn't do much to repair the reputation of an organization that has done so much in the fight against breast cancer. More resignations might come as senior leaders look closely at what it will take to truly recover from the past week's events.

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI



 




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About Steve Goldstein

Steve Goldstein is editorial director of events for Access Intelligence’s PR News brand, which encompasses premium, how-to content, data and competitive intelligence for public relations professionals; PR News Online; PR News conferences, webinars and awards programs; and PR News guidebooks. Previously at AI Steve was editorial director of min, min ’s b2b and minonline as well as managing editor of CableFAX: The Magazine and CableWorld. Before joining Access Intelligence, he was executive editor of World Screen News, and editor of Film/Tape World, which covered film, television and commercial production in the San Francisco Bay Area.



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