The Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity on Friday abandoned plans to eliminate grants to Planned Parenthood. The startling decision came after three days of virulent criticism that resounded across the Internet, jeopardizing Komen's iconic image.
"We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives," a Komen statement said.
On Tuesday, Komen had adopted criteria excluding Planned Parenthood from future grants for breast-cancer screenings because it was under government investigation, citing a probe launched by a Florida congressman at the urging of anti-abortion groups.
Komen said it would change the criteria "to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political."
"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants," the statement said.
Many of Komen's affiliates across the country had openly rebelled against the decision to cut the funding, which totaled $680,000 in 2011. One affiliate, in Aspen, Colo., had announced Thursday that it would defy the new rules and continue grants to its local Planned Parenthood partner.
In addition, Komen was inundated with negative comments via emails, on Twitter and on its Facebook page. Many of the messages conveyed a determination to halt gifts to Komen - organizer of the popular Race for the Cure events -because of the decision.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood was reporting an outpouring of support - donations large and small, triggered by the Komen decision, that it said surpassed $900,000.
Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, thanked those donors Friday and welcomed Komen's change of heart.
Through the Komen grants, Planned Parenthood says its health centers provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals over the past five years.
Komen, in its statement, said it was immediately starting an outreach to its affiliates and supporters to get the charity back on track.
Komen PR Fallout
The decision to defund Planned Parenthood turned out to be a public relations meltdown for the Dallas-based Komen Foundation.
Dr. Rita Kirk, SMU professor of corporate communications, says the Foundation veered from its mission with the controversial decision. And reversing it was the smart thing to do.
Kirk: Most people that are students of communication would say they would have hoped that they would have moved more quickly. But certainly they responded to consumer demand. Now we’ll need to see how they continue, if they stay on message.
Dr. Kirk says the incident has put a “dent” in Komen’s reputation, but the Foundation still has strong supporters and should remain a powerful fundraiser.
In a statement, Komen CEO Nancy Brinker said the organization would refocus its attention on the mission of preventing and curing breast cancer.
BJ Austin, KERA News
Uplift Education Seeks City Bond OK
Charter School operator Uplift Education is asking the city of Dallas to authorize the sale of bonds so Uplift can build schools. To the get the best rates, Uplift wants Dallas to create a non-profit called the City of Dallas Education Finance Corporation.
Uplift Education Chief Financial Officer Bill Mays says Uplift has also done this in Clifton, Beasley and Fate Texas.
Mays: This time we’re trying to use an allocation we have from the TEA, of the qualified school construction bonds. And that requires us to have the foundation actually being in the area where we’re spending the money.
Mays and Uplift board members say they hope to raise $85 million from bonds, $15 million of which would be spent in Dallas. The city says it would take on no financial obligation. Uplift would hold all repayment responsibilities. The item comes up at today’s Economic Development Committee.
Bill Zeeble, KERA News
Deported Texas teen maintains alias in jail calls
A Dallas teenager deported to South America under a false name never expressed concern during jailhouse phone calls that she was misidentified as an illegal Colombian immigrant.
In a recent television interview, 15-year-old Jakadrien Turner said she tried repeatedly to convince Houston police she had lied when she initially identified herself to them as Tika Lanay Cortez.
She had told police who arrested her for shoplifting she was a 21-year-old Colombian national. In more than two dozen recorded telephone calls reviewed by The Associated Press, Turner said she expected deportation to Colombia and didn't complain of having no ties to the country.
Instead, in several conversations with two men, she identified herself as Cortez and discussed renewing her green card and having her passport and Colombian ID sent to authorities.
2 convicted in North Texas embezzlement scheme
A federal jury has convicted two people of taking part in a conspiracy to embezzle money from Garland. Kenneth Wayne Brown and his wife, Leah Michele Brown, were found guilty Thursday in Dallas federal court.
Authorities say they and others cashed in checks written to themselves. The conspiracy involved several other people and led to about $2 million in losses for Garland. Most of the proceeds went to Patricia Leathers, a former risk management adjuster for the city.
Leathers pleaded guilty two years ago to conspiracy. She is serving a nearly five-year prison sentence. Kenneth and Leah Brown will be sentenced May 18. Each faces up to five years in prison.
Ex-Stanford exec returns for 2nd day of testimony
The ex-chief financial officer for Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford's businesses is returning for a second day of testimony in the financier's fraud trial in a federal court in Houston.
James M. Davis, who worked 21 years for Stanford, was to resume testifying Friday.
On Thursday, Davis told jurors he and Stanford fabricated financial statements and other reports that lied about how well certificates of deposit, or CDs, bought from Stanford's Caribbean bank were performing.
Prosecutors allege Stanford used CD depositors' funds to pay for his failed businesses and for his billionaire lifestyle. Stanford's attorneys contend he was a savvy businessman whose financial empire was legitimate.
They have suggested Davis was behind the alleged fraud. Davis has pleaded guilty in the case as part of an agreement with prosecutors.