See all our coverage of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s break with Planned Parenthood here.
It is becoming ever-clearer that the Susan G. Komen Foundation is being heavily influenced by the far right in the United States, breast cancer victims be damned.
ThinkProgress reports that Ari Fleischer, “former press secretary for George W. Bush and prominent right-wing pundit, was secretly involved in the Komen Foundation’s strategy regarding Planned Parenthood.” Fleischer’s relationship with Komen and the Planned Parenthood controversy was previously undisclosed, says ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum, but:
Fleischer personally interviewed candidates for the position of “Senior Vice President for Communications and External Relations” at Komen last December. According to a source with first-hand knowledge, Fleischer drilled prospective candidates during their interviews on how they would handle the controversy about Komen’s relationship with Planned Parenthood.
In November, writes Legum, “Komen advertised for a top level communications position in Roll Call. Promising applicants received a call from Fleischer.”
According to a source, during at least one interview, Planned Parenthood was a major topic of conversation. Fleischer indicated that he had discussed the Planned Parenthood issue with Komen’s CEO, Nancy Brinker, and that she was at her wits end about how to proceed. Fleischer described himself as a longtime friend of Brinker.
Fleischer confirmed to ThinkProgress that he would receive a fee from Komen when the search is complete. Fleischer did not specify the amount of his fee but said it would be “substantially below the normal placement fee charged by executive search companies” because “they’re a charity I believe in.”
Fleischer’s high-level involvement with Komen further complicates its image as an apolitical cancer charity. Fleischer is a prominent partisan commentator and a longtime critic of Planned Parenthood. In his book, Taking Heat, Fleischer criticized Planned Parenthood as a partisan, ideological organization that receives undeserved positive coverage in the press. In 2001, Fleischer said that the Clinton administration verged too far to the left on family planning efforts because “if Planned Parenthood wanted it, the previous administration favored it.”
This–and the fact that Komen veered wildly from one story to another this week–underscores that there was and is a political vendetta at work and that the Cliff Stearns witchhunt only provided a convenient excuse to break with Planned Parenthood affiliates offering breast cancer screening to women who otherwise would not have access.