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The Susan G. Komen Foundation certainly did its brand no favors in its on-again, off-again decision to defund Planned Parenthood, as our Daily Kos/PPP Survey amply illustrates. The damage done to its image is likely to continue, as the organization comes under even greater media scrutiny in the wake of the scandal.

Consider this Washington Post story on Komen's spending on salaries and promotions. The story reports Nancy Brinker's salary at $417,000 in 2010, with the top 50 executives in the organization each receiving more than $100,000.

That's not a terribly exorbitant amount of compensation for charities like Komen, the article points out. But there are some other issues that are coming to light that could make donors, volunteers and supporters increasingly uncomfortable with Komen.

Brinker, who also serves as chairman of Komen’s board of directors, traveled first class on airlines with the explicit permission of the board she chairs. [...]

“For the small handful of charities that big, it’s normal,’’ Charity Navigator’s president and chief executive Ken Berger said of Brinker’s salary.

He said the first-class air travel is more of a concern because most donors want to feel that executives put the organization’s mission above their own comfort.

“Even though there’s nothing illegal about it, it does raise questions about the efficiency of a charity if they’re spending funds for first class,’’ Berger said. [...]

James Abruzzo, a management and global business instructor at Rutgers Business School, said the picture that emerges from the Komen documents does raise several concerns [...]

First, he said, Brinker’s duals roles at Komen may hobble the decision-making process. “When you have a chairman who’s also the president, you have a lack of checks and balances,’’ Abruzzo said. “The founder generally populates the board with friends and associates.’’

Indeed, Brinker’s son, Eric Brinker, serves on the Komen board.

Goal Thermometer
Another concern for experts is the high rate of staff turnover reflected in the financial documents, and the fact that the organization is shelling out serious money in severance payments "to four people, three of them former staffers who each earned more than $100,000 annually." These are high-level staff members whose departures are linked to the Planned Parenthood fiasco.

A picture of Komen is emerging that is particularly unhelpful for an organization that is supposed to be about, and only about, finding a cure for breast cancer. It's funding a more than comfortable lifestyle for Brinker, and at the very least padding her son's resume. Under the stewardship of an unchecked Brinker, it's been allowed to become a political organization, muddying its mission and core values.

As a private organization, Komen certainly has a right to put its money where it wants. But as a very public organization in women's health, it has to answer to all the donors who rightfully feel deceived about what it was they were buying into.

Click here to contribute $5 to Planned Parenthood.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 01:15 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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