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Ari Fleischer Secretly Involved in Komen Strategy on Planned Parenthood

Saturday, 04 February 2012 04:56 By Judd Legum, ThinkProgress | Report
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Ari Fleischer Secretly Involved in Komen Strategy on Planned Parenthood

Ari Fleischer conducting a White House press conference. (Photo: USGov)

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush and prominent right-wing pundit, was secretly involved in the Komen Foundation’s strategy regarding Planned Parenthood. Fleischer personally interviewed candidates for the position of “Senior Vice President for Communications and External Relations” at Komen last December. According to a source with first-hand knowledge, Fleischer drilled prospective candidates during their interviews on how they would handle the controversy about Komen’s relationship with Planned Parenthood.

Fleischer’s relationship with Komen and the Planned Parenthood controversy was previously undisclosed. He confirmed to ThinkProgress his recent role in filling a key communication position at Komen. Fleischer stressed, however, another communications firm (Ogilvy PR) was retained by Komen to deal with crisis communications over the last few days and he has not been involved.

In November, Komen advertised for a top level communications position in Roll Call. Promising applicants received a call from Fleischer. The advertisement is no longer posted on the Roll Call website, but a portion is accessible via Google:

According to a source, during at least one interview, Planned Parenthood was a major topic of conversation. Fleischer indicated that he had discussed the Planned Parenthood issue with Komen’s CEO, Nancy Brinker, and that she was at her wits end about how to proceed. Fleischer described himself as a longtime friend of Brinker.

Fleischer confirmed to ThinkProgress that he would receive a fee from Komen when the search is complete. Fleischer did not specify the amount of his fee but said it would be “substantially below the normal placement fee charged by executive search companies” because “they’re a charity I believe in.”

Fleischer’s high-level involvement with Komen further complicates its image as an apolitical cancer charity. Fleischer is a prominent partisan commentator and a longtime critic of Planned Parenthood. In his book, Taking Heat, Fleischer criticized Planned Parenthood as a partisan, ideological organization that receives undeserved positive coverage in the press. In 2001, Fleischer said that the Clinton administration verged too far to the left on family planning efforts because “if Planned Parenthood wanted it, the previous administration favored it.”

Update: A copy of the full listing for the position Fleischer was working to fill for Komen is still available here.

Judd Legum

Judd Legum is a practicing attorney and a candidate for state delegate in Annapolis, MD.

Judd previously served as the Research Director at the Center for American Progress, a leading public policy think tank. He founded ThinkProgress.org, the organization’s popular blog and regularly appeared on national television and radio programs.

Judd held the same position with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign,managing a team of 15 responsible for the campaign’s policy and political research.


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Ari Fleischer Secretly Involved in Komen Strategy on Planned Parenthood

Saturday, 04 February 2012 04:56 By Judd Legum, ThinkProgress | Report
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print
Ari Fleischer Secretly Involved in Komen Strategy on Planned Parenthood

Ari Fleischer conducting a White House press conference. (Photo: USGov)

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush and prominent right-wing pundit, was secretly involved in the Komen Foundation’s strategy regarding Planned Parenthood. Fleischer personally interviewed candidates for the position of “Senior Vice President for Communications and External Relations” at Komen last December. According to a source with first-hand knowledge, Fleischer drilled prospective candidates during their interviews on how they would handle the controversy about Komen’s relationship with Planned Parenthood.

Fleischer’s relationship with Komen and the Planned Parenthood controversy was previously undisclosed. He confirmed to ThinkProgress his recent role in filling a key communication position at Komen. Fleischer stressed, however, another communications firm (Ogilvy PR) was retained by Komen to deal with crisis communications over the last few days and he has not been involved.

In November, Komen advertised for a top level communications position in Roll Call. Promising applicants received a call from Fleischer. The advertisement is no longer posted on the Roll Call website, but a portion is accessible via Google:

According to a source, during at least one interview, Planned Parenthood was a major topic of conversation. Fleischer indicated that he had discussed the Planned Parenthood issue with Komen’s CEO, Nancy Brinker, and that she was at her wits end about how to proceed. Fleischer described himself as a longtime friend of Brinker.

Fleischer confirmed to ThinkProgress that he would receive a fee from Komen when the search is complete. Fleischer did not specify the amount of his fee but said it would be “substantially below the normal placement fee charged by executive search companies” because “they’re a charity I believe in.”

Fleischer’s high-level involvement with Komen further complicates its image as an apolitical cancer charity. Fleischer is a prominent partisan commentator and a longtime critic of Planned Parenthood. In his book, Taking Heat, Fleischer criticized Planned Parenthood as a partisan, ideological organization that receives undeserved positive coverage in the press. In 2001, Fleischer said that the Clinton administration verged too far to the left on family planning efforts because “if Planned Parenthood wanted it, the previous administration favored it.”

Update: A copy of the full listing for the position Fleischer was working to fill for Komen is still available here.

Judd Legum

Judd Legum is a practicing attorney and a candidate for state delegate in Annapolis, MD.

Judd previously served as the Research Director at the Center for American Progress, a leading public policy think tank. He founded ThinkProgress.org, the organization’s popular blog and regularly appeared on national television and radio programs.

Judd held the same position with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign,managing a team of 15 responsible for the campaign’s policy and political research.


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