Candie's hasn't responded to our detailed questions about its work with Bristol Palin, but it has responded to the overall controversy about her being paid over $260,000, while only $35,000 has gone to actual anti-pregnancy initiatives. Here's the gist:
The message of the foundation about teen pregnancy prevention has generated more than ONE BILLION media impressions –- tremendous reach for any teen pregnancy prevention campaign. We know that Ms. Palin's work has had a positive effect on teens. In a recent independent national survey of 1,000 teens that compared a Bristol Palin PSA with those of another national teen pregnancy organization that use non-famous teens, more than twice as many teens (57% vs. 27%) said Bristol's PSA "got my attention", three times as many (41% vs. 11%) said it was "powerful", and more than twice as many (38% vs. 16%) said it was "memorable".
Bristol Palin is one of dozens of celebrities who has worked with the foundation. She has been a courageous and powerful partner to the foundation as we attempt to discourage teen pregnancy.
In other words, the chosen tools of this foundation are publicity and celebrity. But just because the Palin ads were "memorable" or "powerful" doesn't mean they actually did anything to combat teen pregnancy. Wholly apart from Candie's own sexualized anti-teen-sex M.O., Palin herself presents a conflicted message: Don't end up like me, except that I'm now a celebrity and on Dancing With The Stars. (Not to mention, "Having a baby as a teenager sucks," while posing with her actual baby.)
Separately, an unnamed source has told E! Online that the compensation was ""not out of the ordinary for a celebrity...The money she received was from multiple projects she did with them. She shot PSAs, print and Internet ads and did town hall meetings, as well, and the money she made was an accumulation of all of that. This is not out of the ordinary for a celebrity to make an income off of a charity they represent."
Is that market price for a celebrity of whatever Bristol's caliber was before she got her deal? Candie's last two 990 forms show payments for roughly the same amount each to William Morris Agency and Creative Artists Agency, presumably for celebrity appearances at the events. It's not listed how much past "ambassadors" like Jenny McCarthy were paid, or whether they volunteered. (On the 2007 form, McCarthy is listed as an uncompensated director, but not in subsequent forms.) It's true that the ads capitalized on the media attention around Palin and her family; they also doubled as handy good PR for Candie's as a brand, whatever they did to prevent teen pregnancy.
Broadly speaking, it's entirely unclear to us what Candie's is trying to say with all those media impressions. There's the strong suggestion of abstinence ("Be Sexy: It Doesn't Mean You Have to Have Sex") alongside the confusing slogan Bristol pushed, "Pause Before You Play" — pause and do what, exactly, in the absence of comprehensive sex ed? Bristol herself has come out for abstinence, except when she hasn't. Meanwhile, right under the statement on their website, the foundation is cheering that "Congress is thinking of shifting money from abstinence-until-marriage education to comprehensive sex education," and director Christine Clark used to work at Planned Parenthood. If the adults are confused, imagine how teenagers feel.
Statement On Bristol Palin's Compensation [Candies Foundation]
Team Bristol Fights Back, Insists Big Payday "Not Out of the Ordinary for a Celebrity" [Eonline]
Earlier: Candie's Foundation Pays Bristol Palin $260k, Gives Little To Actual Initiatives