Yesterday, someone forwarded to the Lepanto Institute an email from Ralph McCloud, the Executive Director for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). McCloud’s email was written to address recent concerns raised by the Lepanto Institute regarding CCHD grants. You can read McCloud’s email here.
In typical fashion, McCloud never actually addressed any specific concerns, but stressed the CCHD’s procedure for allegedly ensuring a high standard of accountability. At the beginning of the letter, McCloud said the following:
“In years past, CCHD staff met with Mr. Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute with no positive results. Additionally, the CCHD Subcommittee asked that we not meet with him since there seems to be no amicable resolution.“
Since McCloud decided to claim in this email that his meetings with Hichborn had no “positive results,” it’s important to put this claim into context. In a meeting Hichborn had with McCloud in 2011, CCHD offered to provide a grant to him and a colleague … an offer they flatly refused.
Hichborn recounts what happened in this meeting:
I have a witness to this account, who can testify that what I am about to say is completely true.
In the fall of 2011, a colleague of mine and I went to the USCCB offices in Washington, DC to meet with John Carr (then the USCCB’s director of Justice and Peace) and Ralph McCloud about our recent investigation into CCHD grants. Before discussing our findings and the report we were preparing to publish, Carr and McCloud indicated that they wanted to address a few matters first. I expected to be met with the same old list of excuses CCHD gives every time it is caught providing grants to organizations that act against the Church’s teaching. What I did not expect was to be told that instead of meeting and discussing our research into CCHD grants, the CCHD would rather provide us with a grant to create a group that would organize low income people against the pro-abortion and anti-family movements.
Several times throughout the conversation, we were presented with an “appeal” to take a grant from the CCHD in lieu of the research we were conducting into CCHD grantees.
In addition to telling us that they (Carr and McCloud) were “violating their own rules” by offering to provide us with a grant if we were to create such an organization, we were told that the CCHD’s definition of “low income” was more expansive than it was in the past. The suggestion was simply that we could pay ourselves fairly well and still qualify for the grant. Amazingly, after offering us a grant and telling us that doing so was a violation of their rules, they went on to specify that they weren’t supposed to solicit grant applications and help people through the grant process. But this is precisely what they were offering to do. And it was done specifically in the context of moving us away from the ongoing investigations we were conducting into CCHD grantees.
However, as the saying goes, if the carrot doesn’t work, try the stick.
Once it became clear that we weren’t going to take the bait to accept a grant from the CCHD, and that we still intended to publish our report on 54 CCHD grantees, the conversation moved from the offer to a threat. In stating our intention to publish this report, we made it clear that the reason for publishing was simply this: we believed that pew-sitting Catholics deserved to know what sort of organizations the CCHD was funding so they could determine on their own if this was the sort of thing they wanted to contribute to. Despite our promise not to editorialize the information, it was made abundantly clear to us in that if we published the report on those 54 grantees, the CCHD would characterize it as an “attack” and that they would spend time trying to discredit it. In fact, we were specifically told what a shame it is that the CCHD would be forced to waste time discrediting our report instead of providing us with a grant.
Despite the failed attempt to pull Hichborn and his colleague into a financial relationship in 2011, and even though the report on CCHD grantees was subsequently published, CCHD continued to meet with them. However, in the fall of 2012, McCloud unexpectedly canceled the last scheduled meeting they were to have just two days before the appointed time. Though McCloud claims in the email mentioned above that the meetings ceased because “there seems to be no amicable resolution,” it is far more likely that the meetings were ended because Hichborn sent in proof that the CCHD’s largest network of grantees lied to McCloud and sent falsified information to him.
Briefly, here’s what happened. In the summer of 2012, Hichborn submitted evidence to the CCHD that the Gamaliel Foundation was a member of an organization which took official positions in favor of homosexuality. So, the CCHD contacted Gamaliel to ask about this membership. Gamaliel responded by claiming to have ended its relationship with the organization in question in May of 2010. As evidence of this, Gamaliel sent the CCHD the copy of a letter it allegedly wrote to the organization in May of 2010, terminating their relationship. If this was true, this would have been the end of the discussion. But not only was this claim NOT true, Hichborn subsequently discovered document files on Gamaliel’s own website which indicated that it was a member of this organization through 2011, and into 2012. In other words, Gamaliel lied directly to the CCHD and provided them with a falsified document.
Oddly enough, seven days after Hichborn sent proof of Gamaliel’s lie to the CCHD, McCloud canceled the appointed meeting with a single-line email: “We see no reason to meet at this time.”
This video report Hichborn produced gives the details about Gamaliel’s lie to the CCHD:
While this information is six years old, it remains relevant to the current situation in the CCHD. The attempt to persuade Michael Hichborn from conducting research into CCHD grantees by offering him a CCHD grant was not made public in 2011 because he was not at liberty to do so. The only reason this is being made public now is to put into proper context what is meant when McCloud says that previous meetings with Hichborn yielded “no positive results.” And while McCloud claims that he was asked to stop meeting with Hichborn because “there seems to be no amicable resolution,” the fact that their last appointed meeting was canceled just after Hichborn provided the CCHD with proof that the Gamaliel Foundation lied to them is beyond suspicious. More to the point, the alleged “amicable resolution” would have required the CCHD to disqualify its favorite grantee network from all funding.