Money laundering and the CCHD

politics | Nov 12, 2009 | By Stephanie Block

The term “money laundering” can mean several things. One meaning refers to a patently illegal activity in which stolen money is moved through a legitimate financial system in such a way that the casual observer would think everything is on the up-and-up.

Another meaning for the term refers to a sprawling network of funds that has been deliberately created – legally – to disguise how money is being used.

Why would anyone do this? Well, suppose you wanted to raise a lot of money for a very progressive cause but you knew that your supporters were relatively few in number. Believing that your cause was righteous, and being the sort of person who could rationalize that noble ends justify shady means, you might look for a way to so confuse the casual donor that he doesn’t realize to what he is contributing.

Here’s an example. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) collects millions of dollars each year from Catholics to “help break the cycle of poverty.” The money is distributed to hundreds of organizations around the country, each with its own name and, presumably, its own, local concerns. One might visualize this by imagining a porcupine with several hundred quills shooting out in all directions. Each quill is a CCHD grant awarded to distinct entity.

Looked at this way, one might be rather lenient with a grant committee. Deciding among thousands of prospective grantees each year would not only be a daunting task, it would also inevitably result in a few bad eggs slipping through the screening process.

A bit more study of the situation reveals that, rather than hundreds of distinct entities, many of the quills are bundled together. Thirteen percent of them are funding “economic development” projects – entrepreneurial efforts in poor communities. A small number go to CCHD publicity and administrative costs. The rest, over two thirds, goes into community organizing. We can say, therefore, that the CCHD exists primarily to raise money for community organizing.

The community-organizing wedge of the CCHD-funding pie has a few subdivisions of its own – but not as many as one might think, given the hundreds of groups receiving grants. These groups, it turns out, are not local, grass roots, people’s organizations but several large, interrelated families of affiliations.

Let’s examine a concrete example. Below is a listing of CCHD grants between 1996-2005 to several California organizations in the central part of the state. This is not an exhaustive list, by any means. CCHD has funded other organizations in California as well and the data for one year is missing, but these are instructive to examine nevertheless.

Specifically, you see the funding given to seven California organizations. However, they fall into only two families – the Pacific Institute for Community Organizing (PICO) and the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Both of these national, umbrella organizations have dozens of affiliates around the country. In this section of California, however, PICO is the major organizer.

One is struck, looking over the chart, by how difficult it is to know who’s who. Faith in Community has been funded under two other names. People and Congregations Together may actually be two organizations with the same name – or it may be one organization that applied for funding out of two different dioceses. Sacramento Area Congregations Together had an organizing project in the Hmong community and received funding for it under the project name. And we’re only looking at a mere seven locals – not the hundreds that fall into about 10 families around the United States. Whew!

Now stay with me. This gets interesting. These seven CCHD-funded locals were chosen for examination because in 1996 they and a handful of independents formed a coalition with yet another name: Central Valley Partnership for Citizenship (CVP). The independents are not quite so outnumbered as it seems; they are all progressives and two are related to the Fresno diocese.

Between CVP’s founding in 1996 to 2003, the James Irvine Foundation gave the coalition $13 million for drumming up civic participation and naturalizing immigrants. That’s a lot of money. And there’s more.

1996 was a busy year. Blue Cross of California, a health insurance provider, founded the California Endowment, which put another $10.5 into community organizing – $400,000 over 2 years directed into CVP to assist California Endowment with its Agricultural Worker Health Initiative (AWHI). California Endowment also has given $400,000 to California Planned Parenthood, but that’s another story.

What does CVP provide in return? “Health” in this case, is broadly defined. It means political advocacy and community organizing and leadership development. It means environmentalism, immigration and naturalization issues, workers rights, sexual harassment and adult education, civics 101, youth programs, legal aid, and media training [Noe Paramo, CVP Program Director, “AWHI Concept Paper,” 2-28-05].

But most importantly, where health services are provided in the CVP world, they contain “family planning” components. For example, a 3-day CVP Site Visit included viewing an apartment complex, Villa de Guadalupe, designed to replace the intolerable living conditions of area migrant farm workers. The complex was a joint project of the California Endowment, Catholic Charities of Fresno (a CVP partner), and Self-Help Enterprises, a non-profit that builds low-income housing. Next door to the complex is a Family Health Care Network clinic – with an array of “family planning” services, a euphemism for “contraception,” if nothing worse.

The “Health Equity Initiative,” sponsored by San Francisco State University in 2007, prepared a detailed analysis of strategies to circumvent California Central Valley’s bloc of conservative legislators – presumably put into office by conservative voters. It sought, among other things, ways to provide “access to contraceptive services for teens in the Central Valley,” to support “comprehensive sex education,” and confidential clinical services, including “emergency contraception.” The “Health Equity Initiative” recommended continued “state investment” in these programs and in established coalitions among groups such as Planned Parenthood and Family Health Care Network. (“Teen Pregnancy prevention in the California Central Valley: Strategic Grant-Making Considerations”) It’s a complex set of relationships that’s intimately enlaced with the “culture of death.”

So, this is the house that Jack built: the pro-life Catholic generously gives a donation to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The CCHD, in turn, distributes that money to community organizations all over the country. In California, a coalition of CCHD grantees (and a few others) gets a LOT of additional money to develop support for comprehensive programs that include health care with family planning components.

That’s problem number one – health care with a built-in, socially acceptable death component. Problem number two is the placement of universal healthcare into the hands of big government as opposed to a consumer-driven, market-based approach, but that’s really a secondary issue. Imprudent as it may be, there’s nothing inherently evil about government controlling healthcare – suffering can be redemptive.

Abortion and contraception, however, are intrinsically evil. Healthcare that includes such “services” is part of the culture of death – as are the Catholic organizations that support such healthcare packages.

So, does the CCHD launder money? Did its founders and do its current leadership tell Catholics to give money to CCHD “for the poor,” knowing full well that the money will go to hundreds of organizations with the same progressive, culture of death, agenda? Yes, they do, and it sure as hell does.

Stephanie Block is the editor of the New Mexico-based Los Pequenos newspaper and a founder of the Catholic Media Coalition.

1996-2005 CCHD grants to several Alinskyian organizations in California

Sacramento Valley Organizing Community (IAF affiliate)
1996: $35,000
1998: $10,000
2000: $50,000
2001: $35,000
2002: $25,000

PICO California Project (PICO regional)
1996: $70,000
1998: $40,000
2001: $40,000
2002: $35,000
2004: $35,000

Faith in Community (also called Fresno Area Congregations Together and, earlier, Fresno Interfaith Sponsoring Committee; PICO affiliate)

1996: $35,000
1997: $35,000
1998: $30,000
1999: $15,000
2000: $25,000
2001: $30,000
2002: $20,000; $35,000
2004: $25,000

Sacramento Area Congregations Together (also called Sacramento Valley Organizing Project and related to Hmong Organizing for Change; PICO affiliate)

1996: $35,000
1997: $25,000
1998: $30,000
1999: $35,000
2000: $40,000
2001: $40,000
2005: $35,000

People and Congregations Together (PACT; CCHD funds a PACT sometimes through the Stockton diocese and sometimes in San Jose – but only one PACT is listed in PICO’s membership roster; earlier, the group was called Stockton Interfaith Sponsoring Committee; PICO affiliate)
1996: $20,000
1997: $25,000
1998: $25,000
1999: $25,000
2000: $15,000
2001: $25,000
2002: $35,000
2005: $30,000

North Valley Sponsoring Committee (Sacramento-based; PICO affiliate)

2004: $40,000

San Joaquin Community Organization (PICO affiliate)
2001: $25,000



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