In the last three weeks, the reputation of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been threatened by a scandal that has uncovered some uncomfortable truths about the behind the scenes in the world of Professional Breast Cancer Awareness. Although the organization has given the media the "move along, nothing to see here" speech, it appears that Komen CEO Nancy Brinker's lavish spending is worthy of scrutiny. Plus, apparently she's really weird to work for.
According to The Daily Beast's Abigail Pesta, between June 2007 and January 2009, when Brinker was employed full-time with the US State Department during the Bush administration, she billed Komen for $133,507 in expenses. The board approved the expenses because Brinker was the founder of the organization, and according to paperwork filed with US Office of Government Ethics, those funds were to pay for "speech-writing expenses, certain travel, and office costs" and "office personnel work."
It's possible that Brinker was doing six figures' worth of work for Komen while working full-time at another job, but strange that the filings didn't further detail what the money was being used for.
If her employees' impression of her is any indicator, Nancy Brinker likely spent the money on something fancy.
The Daily Beast interviewed several Komen employees, many of whom admitted that Nancy Brinker flies first class and insists on being addressed as "Ambassador Brinker" instead of "Nancy" or the much-more-hilarious "Duchess of Boob."
Brinker doesn't need the money, as she made out like a bandit in her 2003 divorce from millionaire Norman Brinker. She jets between her home in the Ritz Carlton in Washington DC and her second home in Palm Beach, Florida (for the record, a round trip first class flight on US Airways between Washington and Fort Lauderdale costs about $400, roughly the same as one mammogram).
Further, since Brinker took over as CEO, there's been considerable turnover in the executive suite and ensuing expenses related to severance, onboarding, and other money-bleeding ventures. She's paid a $400,000 annual salary, over $120,000 more than her predecessor and the cost equivalent of 1,000 mammograms.
According to some experts who spoke with The Daily Beast, the perception that Brinker's living lavishly on her charity's dime could prove damaging to an already-shaky reputation, and those assertions aren't far off. For the last 30 years, Susan G. Komen for the Cure's founder and CEO has built a charity from a five-figure start up grant to a giant pink machine that handles hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and now, her continued involvement in the organization threatens to und its hard-earned (if undeserved) reputation.
Komen Founder Nancy Brinker's Mysterious Expense Report [The Daily Beast]