The many Republican connections of Nancy Brinker

By Laurie Bennett

February 5, 2012 at 12:03pm

Now that Susan G. Komen for the Cure has reversed its decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood, supporters are left to decide why the controversy occurred and whether they should continue giving to the cancer foundation.

Much of the scrutiny falls, rightly, on the organization’s CEO, Nancy G. Brinker, who founded the organization in memory of her sister. Susan Komen died of the disease in 1980, and Brinker started the foundation two years later.

It was under Brinker’s leadership that Komen hired Karen Handel as senior vice president of public policy. Handel had run unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia in 2010, declaring her opposition to abortion and to Planned Parenthood.

When Komen was hit with widespread outrage last week, it was Brinker who stepped into the media glare. She offered new justifications for the decision, causing further damage, before the group apologized and restored Planned Parenthood’s eligibility for funding.

Brinker insisted throughout the brouhaha that Komen’s actions were not political. Her critics say otherwise and, indeed, her own background is steeped in politics.

Former wife of the late Norman Brinker, a wealthy restaurateur and Republican supporter, she served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary and chief of protocol during the George W. Bush administration.

She has been a steady supporter of the GOP, giving more than $73,000 to the Republican National Committee since 2000.

The Daily Beast, profiling Brinker Sunday, caused a minor dustup in reporting her salary at more than $5 million. The site later changed the figure to $417,000, as reported in the organization’s latest tax return (for a fiscal year ending in March 2011).

Komen’s revenues for the year totalled nearly $209 million.

See related post: Like It or Not, Komen and Planned Parenthood Are Political

Nancy Brinker and President George W. Bush stand with Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi
Nancy Brinker and President George W. Bush stand with Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi, a breast cancer survivor, during a 2008 visit to Riyadh. (White House photo by Chris Greenberg)
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