Karen Handel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Karen Handel
Secretary of State of Georgia
In office
January 13, 2007 – January 8, 2010
Governor Sonny Perdue
Preceded by Cathy Cox
Succeeded by Brian Kemp
Personal details
Born (1962-04-18) April 18, 1962 (age 54)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Steve Handel
Education Prince George's Community College
University of Maryland, College Park

Karen C. Handel (born April 18, 1962) is an American business consultant and former elected official.

She served as Secretary of State of Georgia from 2007 until January 2010, when she resigned to run, unsuccessfully, for the Republican Party nomination for Governor of Georgia.[1] In 2011, Handel was appointed senior vice president of public policy at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leading charity in the cause of fighting breast cancer,[2] and left on February 7, 2012, following the foundation's controversial decisions to end, and then restore, funding for Planned Parenthood which she voted yes on before leaving.[3] Karen Handel was a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2010, winning the primary but losing the primary runoff to Nathan Deal. Handel was also a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2014 [4] but lost in the May 20, 2014 Republican primary, coming in third.[5]

Early career[edit]

Handel was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.[6] After graduating in May 1980 from Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro,[7][8] Handel attended both Prince George's Community College and The University of Maryland, but did not complete any degree.[9] She then went to work for Hallmark Cards. Later, she served as deputy chief of staff to Vice-President Dan Quayle's wife, Marilyn, where she worked to promote breast cancer awareness and research.[10]

Handel worked at several major companies including global eye care company Ciba Vision and international accounting firm KPMG.[11] She served as president and CEO of the Greater Fulton County Chamber of Commerce.

In 2002, Handel was named deputy chief of staff by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, where she served as a policy advisor and supervised constituent services, the Governor's Mansion, and general administration services.

Fulton County Board of Commissioners[edit]

In 2003, Handel was elected chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners in a special election to replace Mike Kenn, receiving 58% of the popular vote. She had run for commissioner unsuccessfully in 2002.

Georgia Secretary of State[edit]

Handel was elected Secretary of State of Georgia on November 7, 2006 with over 54 percent of the vote,[12] making her the first elected Republican secretary of state in Georgia's history and the second woman elected secretary of state. The Secretary of State's Office has nearly 500 employees and oversees elections, corporations, securities and professional licensing boards, and also controls the state archives and the Capitol museum.[13]

As secretary of state, Handel defended and implemented Georgia's photo ID law, which requires Georgia voters to show state-issued photo identification prior to casting a ballot in person, and created the agency's first chief investigative officer to pursue elections and consumer fraud.

Handel launched the Transparency in Government Initiative [14] on the Secretary of State's website (www.sos.ga.gov), which displays the yearly budget, monthly spending totals, and Secretary Handel's political contributions and personal financial disclosures.

Handel also implemented verification of citizenship when registering to vote as required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). She defended that implementation in the fall of 2008 in the face of lawsuits from the ACLU and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education fund (MALDEF). Within weeks of election day, two federal courts sided with Handel and the state of Georgia on the importance of verification and ordered the state to continue the processes through the election. In May 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered Georgia to cease citizenship verification under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which requires federal approval to any changes in election laws in a number of (primarily southern) states. Continued legal battles over the issue are considered likely.[by whom?]

2010 gubernatorial run[edit]

Handel ran for governor in the 2010 election.[15] She announced in December 2009 that she would resign as secretary of state in order to focus on the gubernatorial race full-time.[16] In the July 20th Republican primary vote, Handel received 34% and former Congressman Nathan Deal received 23%.[17] Since neither candidate received a majority, they faced off in the Republican gubernatorial run off on August 10, 2010.[18] Handel received the endorsement of former Republican 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.[19][20] Handel also received the endorsements of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

The primary campaign was particularly heated, and Handel's past membership in the gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans became an issue.[21] When Deal used her membership against her, Handel denied that she had ever been a member of the group, which was an important and influential constituency when she was a commissioner. Politifact rated her denial a "Pants on Fire" lie.[21] When asked by Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA-TV about her stance on gay rights, she said that she was against marriage and adoption for gays.[22]

Republican runoff election[edit]

The Georgia Newspaper Partnership commissioned a poll which was published on August 7, 2010, which indicated that Handel led Nathan Deal 47% to 42% in the primary runoff campaign.[23] Handel lost the runoff election to Deal by 50.2% to 49.8%--with about 2,500 votes separating them out of nearly 580,000 cast.[24] Handel rejected a recount and conceded to Deal the next day.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure[edit]

In April 2011, Handel was hired as senior vice president of public policy at breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure ("Komen"). In this position she was responsible for leading the organization’s federal and state advocacy efforts, including management of Advocacy Alliance.[25]

At the end of January 2012, Komen stated it would cut ties with the global reproductive health organization Planned Parenthood.[26] The organization attributed the decision to a newly adopted policy not to fund organizations under investigation by a government agency. The House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in September 2011 initiated an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s usage of federal funds which are precluded (by the Hyde Amendment) from financing the organization's abortion services.[27]

Media reports suggested that Handel—who had advocated defunding Planned Parenthood in her gubernatorial campaign—and pressure from anti-abortion groups played major roles in this move.[28] On February 2, 2012, Jeffrey Goldberg reported in The Atlantic that "three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood." Goldberg further reported that his anonymous sources indicated "the decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization's new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is 'pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood'".[29] On February 5, 2012 The Huffington Post reported that "emails between Komen leadership... confirm Handel's sole 'authority' in crafting and implementing the Planned Parenthood policy... Handel submitted the new grant criteria to Komen leadership in November and the board approved it in December, at which point Komen's top public health official resigned "on the spot."[30] The firestorm which developed when the news broke out led to a reversal of Komen's decision.

On February 7, 2012, Handel resigned from Komen.[3]

Book about her tenure at Komen[edit]

On September 11, 2012, Simon & Schuster released Handel's book, Planned Bullyhood, about the Komen-Planned Parenthood dispute.[31]

In the book, Handel defends Komen's decision to end the grants to Planned Parenthood, writing that Komen sought to restructure the grants and improve their granting process by stopping "pass-through grants" like the grants to Planned Parenthood through Planned Parenthood would then give the money to an organization that performs mammograms.[32] She refers to Planned Parenthood as "a blatantly partisan" group of "bullies" that began a war with Komen over $700,000, an amount of money "inconsequential" to its $1 billion budget.[32] In the book, Handel also makes clear that numerous options were presented to Komen management and its board, and the board approved phasing out the grants.

2014 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

On May 17, 2013, Handel announced that she would be a candidate for the United States Senate.[33] Incumbent Senator Saxby Chambliss did not seek reelection. Handel was endorsed by former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin in March 2014.[34] She lost the primary, finishing third.[5]


  1. ^ "Karen Handel Files For Governor". WSB-TV. March 27, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Komen.org" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  3. ^ a b Kliff, Sarah; Aizenman, N.C. (February 7, 2012). "Komen vice president Karen Handel resigns". The Washington Post. 
  4. ^ "'Planned Bullyhood' Author Shakes Up GOP Primary". Huffington Post. May 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/GA/51345/131442/en/summary.html
  6. ^ "Karen Handel Biography". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  7. ^ Galloway, J. (June 29, 2009). "On the high-school education of Karen Handel". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  8. ^ Galloway, Jim (2009-07-03). "Karen Handel: 'Yes, I have a high school diploma'". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  9. ^ "Secretary of state candidates not focused on issues". Athens Banner-Herald. 7 August 2006. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Handel, candidate for Ga. gov., makes early campaign stop in Carrollton". Times-Georgian. 2009. 
  11. ^ Mahoney, Ryan (July 28, 2005). "Business backs Handel for secretary of state". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved July 20, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Official Results of the August 8, 2006 Primary Runoff Election". Georgia Secretary of State. August 15, 2006. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  13. ^ "Georgia Secretary of State". Sos.state.ga.us. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  14. ^ "Transparency in Government Initiative". Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  15. ^ "Karen Handel Files For Governor". WSB-TV. March 27, 2009. 
  16. ^ Salzer, James (2009-12-22). "Handel quits as Secretary of State, says she's "all in" for governor's race". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  17. ^ "Unofficial And Incomplete Results of the Tuesday, July 20, 2010 General Primary Election", Georgia Secretary of State, 20 July 2010, retrieved 2010-07-25 
  18. ^ Dewan, Shaila (2010-07-20). "Georgia Will Have Republican Primary Runoff". New York Times. pp. A12. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  19. ^ Vejnoska, Jill (2010-07-25). "Palin nods, and suddenly a Georgia race wakes up". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  20. ^ McCaffrey, Shannon (2010-07-22). "Palin effect rocks Georgia GOP primary". Macon Telegraph. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-07-25. Post-Palin, Handel catapulted to the top of a crowded field in Tuesday’s primary election and won a spot in an Aug. 10 GOP runoff — the first woman to emerge from a gubernatorial primary in Georgia history. 
  21. ^ a b "Did Handel ever join the Log Cabin Republicans?". Politifact. June 9, 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  22. ^ "Handel: Gay parents "not in the best interest of the child"". 11alive.com. July 14, 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  23. ^ Gould Sheinin, Aaron (2010-08-08). "Handel leads Deal in tight governor's race". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2010-08-08. Handel leads Deal 47 percent to 42 percent with 11 percent undecided, and the two are battling for downstate voters who supported someone else in the July 20 primary. 
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ "Karen Handel Now Senior VP For Public Policy With Susan G Komen For The Cure". Peach Pundit. April 12, 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  26. ^ Crary, David (January 31, 2012). "Planned Parenthood 'reeling' after losing charity funds". MSNBC. Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  27. ^ Thompson, Bill (September 29, 2011). "Stearns investigates Planned Parenthood". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  28. ^ Kliff, Sarah (January 28, 2012). "Why Komen defunded Planned Parenthood". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  29. ^ Goldberg, Jeffrey (February 2, 2012). "Top Susan G. Komen Official Resigned Over Planned Parenthood Cave-In". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  30. ^ Karen Handel, Susan G. Komen's Anti-Abortion VP, Drove Decision To Defund Planned Parenthood (The Huffington Post, 2/5/2012)
  31. ^ "Former Susan G. Komen executive who backed Planned Parenthood cut has book coming out in Sept.". Washington Post. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012. [dead link]
  32. ^ a b Pesta, Abigail (September 5, 2012). "Ex-Komen Official Karen Handel Attacks Planned Parenthood 'Thugs' in New Book". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  33. ^ Camia, Catalina (May 17, 2013). "Ex-Komen exec Karen Handel declares Ga. Senate bid". USA Today. 
  34. ^ Joseph, Cameron. Palin's bark bigger than her bite?, The Hill, March 29, 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Cathy Cox
Secretary of State of Georgia
Succeeded by
Brian Kemp