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June 08, 2013 4:54 PM Twilight of the Elites, the Saga Continues: Susan Komen Foundation Edition

By Kathleen Geier

On Thursday of this week, the Washington Post’s Jena McGregor noted something very strange: Nancy Brinker is still the CEO of the Susan Koman Foundation. Not only that, she’s helped herself to a 64 percent pay raise.

You all remember Nancy Brinker, don’t you? She’s the right-wing operative who trashed the once-golden brand of the Komen breast cancer charity when, over a year ago, she oversaw the organization’s drive to defund Planned Parenthood. That fateful decision fueled a huge backlash. High-level Komen staffers resigned, donations to the organization plummeted, and corporate sponsors and members of Congress pressured Komen to reverse itself, which it eventually did, albeit reluctantly.

Earlier this week it was clear that the organization has yet to recover from the debacle. On Monday, Komen announced that it was canceling half of its annual multi-day events for 2014, citing declining participation rates.

Doesn’t sound too good, does it? Above all, it sounds like Komen desperately needs some new leadership. Last August, CEO Brinker announced her resignation, so that was a huge step in the right direction, right? Then why, pray tell, ten months after her announced departure, is Brinker, the architect of the Planned Parenthood disaster, still installed as CEO? Even worse, why on earth was she rewarded for her spectacular incompetence with a whopping 64 percent raise? The board is supposedly still searching for a new CEO, and apparently, the raise was set in 2010, before the Planned Parenthood fiasco. Still, considering what happened, it’s unseemly that the board went through with the raise at all, and even more so that Brinker accepted it.

Also, tell me, when was the last time you or anyone you know got anything close to a 64 percent pay raise, when it didn’t involve a promotion or new job? Especially if they work for a nonprofit?

While you ponder that, I’ll remind you that the situation with Brinker and Komen is all too reminiscent of the Wall Streeters who wrecked the economy, caused a gigantic, world-wide, still ongoing recession that ruined countless people’s lives, and in return for their recklessness and criminal behavior, paid the awful, unthinkable penalty of … record profits and pay. (And yet, some of them still have the nerve to whine about it.)

And if you want to make yourself sick with another example of the double standards that exist for elites, you can read all about the hyper well-connected sub-Malcolm Gladwell dude who has mulitply plagiarized and invented quotes out of thin air — right into a sweet new Simon and Schuster book contract.

Chris Hayes’ recent book about elite failure was quite interesting. The thing about it, though, is that it easily could be updated every year. I imagine new volumes being published and added to the shelf, like the Encyclopedia Brittanicas of my youth, stretching endlessly on and on and on, well nigh into eternity …

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

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