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Nancy Keenan Stabs State NARAL Affiliates

2.jpg (The debacle in the Supreme Court thoroughly enraged me, and it was great to see the Lake lay the blame where it belongs: at Nancy Keenan's feet.  Jane and I first met when I forwarded her some email exchanges between the Executive Director of Connecticut NARAL and me. She's asked me to repost here ar FDL, which I am only too delighted to do — Brenden)

I used to live in Connecticut, and have never liked Joe Lieberman, a man about who the less said the better. I was elated when Ned Lamont mounted his campaign against the Senator, but was seriously disappointed to see that NARAL was backing a man who believes that Catholic Hospital should be allowed to deny emergency contraception to rape victims, and who had, by voting for cloture, helped put Samuel Alito on the bench.

I was really angry, and emailed a letter to all my friends and family in Connecticut, cc-ed to Carolyn Treiss, the Executive Director of Connecticut NARAL:

Subject: Lieberman endorsement


I am appalled and embarrassed that you endorsed Joe Lieberman for Senate.

As you well know, Lieberman believes that Catholic hospitals in Connecticut have the right to deny emergency contraception to rape victims. That’s why REAL pro-choice activists call him Rape Gurney Joe.

Your organization sat by while Samuel Alito garnered Joe Liberman’s vote for cloture, the only vote that mattered in the nomination. Alito’s hostility to Roe v Wade is legendary, yet you support Joe Lieberman, who helped put Alito on the bench. For that matter, he helped put Roberts on the bench too, and yet you support Lieberman.

Your behavior is despicable: I cut NARAL off my list of charities after Alito, and made sure I cc-ed my friends and family in Connecticut. Today I am cc-ing them again: do not vote for Joe Lieberman, and do not give ANY MONEY AT ALL to Connecticut NARAL. CTNARAL will not use your money wisely, as they proved during the Alito nomination.>

names deleted, please pass this email along to your friends and family: make sure that they know that CT NARAL let down all friends of reproductive rights in Connecticut. I for one have not forgotten. Brendan Skwire Philadelphia, PA

I received a swift, and well-deserved smackdown from Ms. Treiss: turns out things weren't so cut-and-dried:

Dear Mr. Skwire, I feel that I must make some important facts clear to you before you continue to spread misinformation about NARAL Pro-Choice CT. We are the CT Affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America. We operate as an independent entity and receive no funding from the national organization. Our state affiliate did NOT endorse Joe Lieberman. In fact, our state affiliate CANNOT endorse in federal races because we do not have a federal PAC registered with the FEC. We do, however, have a state PAC which may only make endorsements in state races. I have attached our voter guide so you can see that there is no mention of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s federal endorsements.

Furthermore, our state affiliate plays no decision making role in NARAL Pro-Choice America’s endorsements. However, in this particular race, we sent a memo to NARAL Pro-Choice America making our recommendation that they NOT endorse Joe Lieberman, because we in this state do not feel that he has represented pro-choice people in CT, mainly due to his failure to support a filibuster on Alito and his insensitive and damaging statements against our EC in the ER bill. NARAL Pro-Choice America obviously did not agree with our recommendation. But, as I have already stated, we have no power in their decision making process.

I would also encourage you to go to On that site you will notice my name and the names of almost the entire Board and PAC of NARAL Pro-Choice CT. I and members of my Board and PAC have attended numerous Ned Lamont fundraisers and events, and the campaign is well aware of my organization’s support, despite the actions of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Furthermore, you need only do a blog search to see that our affiliate’s position has been widely discussed on www.firedoglake and other progressive blogs.

So I must take issue with your assertion that NARAL Pro-Choice CT supports Joe Lieberman. And in the future I hope you will do your research before trashing a small organization that works very hard on a very small budget to protect and further women’s reproductive freedom.

I hope you will pass this email along to all of your friends and family in CT as easily as you did with your email to me.

Sincerely, Carolyn Treiss

Carolyn M. Treiss
Executive Director
NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut
135 Broad Street Hartford, CT 06105 (860) 524-1086

As you may imagine, I apologized immediately, cc-ing my retraction to my friends:

I will pass along your response, and thanks for the update.

The email was inspired by your parent organization, NARAL, which sent me a truly offensive email urging me to vote for their slate of candidates. The email included an interactive map. When I clicked on Connecticut, the candidate was Joe Lieberman. There was no mention at all that CT NARAL does not support him.

I apologize for sending out misinformation, but I also want to point out that I received this misinformation from NARAL, which made no mention that the CT affiliate does not support Lieberman.

Considering how much of my own money has been given to the organization, as well as efforts made to sign petitions, make phone calls and travel to DC to march, after NARAL’s betrayal on Alito and Roberts, you’ll have to excuse my haste to slam NARAL whenever I get an opportunity.

Treiss responded:

Of course NARAL Pro-Choice America is not going to publicize the fact that the state affiliate doesn’t agree with their endorsement. It undermines their credibility and ability to raise money. We also disagree with their endorsements in the Murphy/Johnson and Simmons/Courtney Congressional races, but they don’t tell you that either.
If you really want to support choice, you should send your money to your state Affiliate, NARAL Pro-Choice PA. They are ones doing the work on the ground in PA and are not corrupted by DC beltway politics. And your friends should become members of NARAL Pro-Choice CT.

In one of the most important races in the country, a race that could have given real pro-choice Democrats a larger majority, Nancy Keenan refused to listen to a state chapter that is presumably much more in tune with Connecticut than an umbrella organization located nearly 350 miles away. I do not claim to know if the national NARAL speaks for my local organization, or for any other of their chapters: in Connecticut they rewarded a senator who voted against reproductive rights, against the clear wishes of their state chapter. Who knows if that was the case in Rhode Island, where Nancy supported Chaffee against Whitehouse.

Make sure YOUR affiliate knows. Call them and let them know how angry you are about Keenan's failed leadership.  Let them know that there are other deserving organizations out there like  Planned Parenthood, Feminist Majority, and NOW that could use your support.

And let them know that it is time for new leadership, leadership that actually fights for reproductive rights.

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