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Komen’s Nancy Brinker: Well-paid, yes. But most trusted?

Nancy Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. (Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

DALLAS – The public relations fiasco involving Komen’s Nancy Brinker continues well into its second year amid a controversial pay raise and an eyebrow-raising poll that calls her one of the most trusted people in the country.

The former Dallas resident, who famously launched the breast cancer foundation in the name of her late sister, touched off a firestorm last year with a plan to defund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions, although not with Komen funds.

The blowback was so fierce that Brinker quickly reversed the decision, but not before Advertising Age dubbed Komen the “new Coke of nonprofits.’’ In the aftermath Brinker apologized and vowed to step aside.

But in recent days, the controversy flared anew amid reports that Brinker got a salary boost and is still listed as CEO on the foundation Web site.

Last year, we reported that Brinker drew a $417,000 salary from the foundation in 2010, along with billing it for first-class air travel. That enflamed Komen critics – who were already calling for her resignation – and was part of the reason that participation in Komen-sponsored “Race for the Cure’’ fundraisers fell off after the brouhaha.

On Friday, we learned that Komen’s most recent IRS filings she made $684,717 in fiscal 2012, a 64 percent jump from April 2010 to March 2011, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Komen’s public relations executive noted that the raise was actually approved prior to the flap over Planned Parenthood. And she said Brinker plans to step into a new role after a replacement is named.

But the recent disclosures renewed the sense that the organization and its leader have grown woefully disconnected from how their handling of the controversies resonates with the public.

Dallas media are still pointing toward the high-level departures of those who orchestrated the ill-fated shift from Planned Parenthood.

The politicking led to an online petition drive to force Brinker out.

Yet on Tuesday, Brinker posted on Facebook that she is “humbled and excited’’ to be named one of the 100 most trusted Americans in a new poll featured in Reader’s Digest.

Reader’s Digest, which teamed with a research firm to poll 1,000 people, put her at No. 33.

Lori Stahl covers politics and culture from Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LoriStahl.


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