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The U.S. Catholic bishops' national anti-poverty program breaks its own grant rules in an opaque funding scheme. This from Lepanto Institute's latest report.
The report also shows the bishops' program, Catholic Campaign for Human Development (or CCHD) incorporates into its scheme an organization that may not even exist.
We were sent an email exchange between a concerned Catholic and CCHD grants specialist Randy Keesler. These emails revealed that the CCHD broke its own rules to give $50,000 to an organization called the Workers Dignity Project so that it could, in turn, hand the money to a group Randy identified as PATH. But the CCHD grants list only mentioned Workers' Dignity and says nothing about PATH.
One guideline states: "Organizations that would use CCHD money for re-granting purposes or to fund other organizations" are not eligible for CCHD funding. Another says CCHD only funds 501(c)(3) organizations recognized by the IRS. But, when questioned, Keesler claimed there was no violation: "Technically it is not a re-grant. It is a pass-through. The group has no choice of who the money goes to."
So Lepanto Institute kept digging, and things got weirder.
How can Keesler justify a "pass-through grant" when the guideline specifically forbids grants to organizations for the purpose of funding other organizations? This kind of shell game immediately calls the CCHD's grants list into question. Who is really getting the money? Does PATHE even exist? Not only is its address the same as Workers Dignity's, but its listed phone number isn't even in service!
Unable to reach anybody by phone, Lepanto Institute tried email. Within hours, responding to questions about PATHE's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, Melissa Cherry responded that PATHE is a "fiscally sponsored organization."
She added: "The address listed is no longer accurate, but the phone number will still reach us. Please let me know if you need updated information for a particular purpose."
Cherry never responded to follow-up questions for clarification. And follow-up phone calls to the number she claimed was operative continued to yield an "out of service" message.
Michael Hichborn: "The CCHD's shell-game here leads to some very serious questions. CCHD admits that PATHE doesn't have a corporate structure ... so how did CCHD conduct its self-professed 'rigorous vetting process'? How can we possibly know that other such 'pass-through' grants aren't going to Planned Parenthood?"
CCHD is described on the bishops' website as working "to break the cycle of poverty." But it looks like they are caught in a cycle of lies, enriching themselves and other mysterious entities.