College Guide


February 02, 2012 8:44 AM Susan G. Komen and Penn State

By Daniel Luzer


As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, nation’s leading breast-cancer charity, recently decided to deny funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates, citing the fact that the nonprofit reproductive health provider is under federal government investigation. But it turns out Komen’s ban on funding for institutions under investigation isn’t being applied so consistently; Penn State is still getting Komen’s money.

Komen provided Planned Parenthood with about $680,000 last year. “Komen has… implemented more stringent eligibility standards to safeguard donor dollars,” the organization explained. “Some might argue that our standards are too exacting, but over the past three decades people have given us more than just their money. They have given us their trust.”

Many argue that the decision actually has to do with the foundation’s right-wing executive team. “We regret that these new policies have impacted some longstanding grantees, such as Planned Parenthood,” Komen says. “But want to be absolutely clear that our grant-making decisions are not about politics.

Really? Then why hasn’t the foundation cut off its funding stream to Penn State University, which is under a much more serious investigation?

As Adam Serwer at Mother Jones writes:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which recently announced that it is ending grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening because of a controversial investigation launched by an anti-abortion Republican congressman, currently funds cancer research at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to the tune of $7.5 million. Like Planned Parenthood, Penn State is currently the subject of a federal government investigation, and like the Planned Parenthood grant, the Penn State grant appears to violate a new internal rule at Komen that bans grants to organizations that are under investigation by federal, state, or local governments. But so far, only the Planned Parenthood grants appear to have been cancelled.

The Komen policy apparently states that,

A Komen grant may be terminated if, among other things, the grantee loses or changes its tax exempt status, is barred from receiving federal or state funds, or if we learn of any financial and/or administrative improprieties.
Further, should Komen become aware that an applicant or its affiliates are under formal investigation for financial or administrative improprieties by local, state or federal authorities, the applicant will be ineligible to receive a grant.

Now, that “may be terminated” is significant. The policy doesn’t require Komen to cut off funding because an organization already receiving a grant then comes under investigation.

Under one federal law, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1990, a college must “issue a timely warning if a reported crime represents a threat to the campus community.” Citing the Clery Act, the Department of Education began investigating the university in November.

But apparently the decision to deny funding is up to senior management. Why is Planned Parenthood a problem but Penn State, which is under investigation because an assistant football coach is accused of 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys over a 15-year period, is totally a legitimate grantee? [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • George on February 02, 2012 8:18 PM:


    Your interpretation seems to ignore the tension between these two paragraphs. The first paragraph is indeed permissive ("may be terminated" if Komen "learns of" improprieties). But the second paragraph isn't ("will be ineligible" if Komen "becomes aware" of a federal, state, or local investigation of "financial or administrative improprieties"). The DOJ activity is definitely a "federal investigation," and presumably the university's ignoring o the Clery Act would be, at minimum, an "impropriety." So Komen still has a consistency problem -- something they're going to have a lot of, given the straitjacket they've imposed on themselves by this extremely ill-judged "standard."

  • Rob on February 03, 2012 2:13 PM:

    The hypocrisy is clear, Komen doesn't really care about doing the right thing. They just want to stop abortions. Investigations of child sex abuse don't really seem to bother them. Shame.