An email from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta reveals White House chief of staff Denis McDonough responding favorably to an email forwarded to him by Podesta from a leftwing “Catholic” organization that said it was arranging meetings with Catholic prelates to urge them to press U.S. senators to vote for the Iran Treaty.
The email, revealed by WikiLeaks, shows a message originally forwarded to Podesta by Fred Rotondaro, chairman of the dissident Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), and a senior fellow with Podesta’s organization Center for American Progress.
Rotondaro wrote on August 21, 2015 to Podesta and other Clinton campaign staffers:
I thought you might be interested in this report from the CACG exec director Chris Hale on efforts to have the Catholic org community promote the Iran Treaty. There is a tremendous amount of potential in these inter Faith orgs including the ability to reach some working class voters,
The forwarded message is from Ben Palumbo, a CACG board member, who wrote on the subject of “Catholic Efforts on Iran Update” to Diane Randall and members of the Quakers (Friends) political lobbying organization, CACG’s Hale, and James Salt of Catholics United, another leftwing dissident group that calls itself “Catholic.”
Palumbo wrote about plans to meet with several Democrat U.S. senators:
I wanted you to see this report from our Exec. Dir. Chris Hale.
We are going to seek a meeting with Warner, and requests are in the works for Coons and Casey.
The report, from Hale, first announces CACG’s ad to support the Iran Treaty that is running on leftwing “Catholic” sites National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal.
Our advertisement began running on National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal yesterday. Right now, when you click the advertisement, the link takes you to MoveOn’s 60 Day to Stop A War Take Action website. From there, you are able to dial into your Member of Congress and request them to support the Iran Deal.
At some point today, that link will change to our own website, which will list all the groups’ names, simple talking points, and give people a chance to dial in three elected officials (their one US Representatives and two Senators). While the MoveOn site is very effective, ours will ensure that people calling into the offices identify as a person of faith, which is important in both our narrative creation (Catholics support the deal) and coalition building (the God Squad takes action).
Hale then pointed out that his organization is working on letters to Democrat U.S. Sens. Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, to urge them to vote for the Iran deal.
He continued that CACG was planning to meet with Baltimore Archbishop William Lori and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., to encourage them to urge the Maryland senators to vote for the Iran Treaty as well:
The letters to both Senators Cardin and Mikulski have been e-mailed, faxed, and snail mailed to the appropriate parties. This morning, I will make follow up calls to the state chief of staffs and schedulers. I imagine we’ll know early next week if they plan on meeting with our groups’ representatives. If it appears that isn’t the case, I’m developing a grass-tops digital strategy and local media strategy to encourage them to change their minds…
I have phone calls early next week with senior advocacy staffers for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archdiocese of Washington (which includes territory in Maryland), and the Maryland Catholic Conference.
While I think there should be many goals for these meetings, I think the top-line goal is pretty clear: we need Archbishop William Lori and Cardinal Donald Wuerl to make direct appeals to Senators Cardin and Mikulski on this issue. While I don’t have any advance knowledge, I have a sense from the conversations setting up the meetings that there might be willingness for that to happen.
I will be sending an additional e-mail to our C4 community on Tuesday to asking them to contact their Members of Congress. This was remarkably successful last week. Based on the digital metrics, we can safely assume thousands of our Catholic brothers and sisters are taking action on this issue. My colleagues will be working with our allies to scan the local newspapers this upcoming week to see if people are communicating faith values in supporting the deal to letters to the editors in newspapers across the nation. My initial sense is that they are. That would be something to be proud of for our group.
I’ll be taking some time off on both today and Monday to rejuvenate myself as my colleagues and I continue our grueling preparation for Pope Francis’s apostolic trip to the US. As you can imagine, Iran is just a portion of the work we’re doing in preparation for the Holy Father’s trip…
I spoke to the White House yesterday and they assure us the media’s moniker calling us “God Squad” isn’t just sweet nothings, but actually a fair assessment of the substantial difference we’re making in this conversation.
Christopher J. Hale
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
641 S Street Northwest, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20001
Rebuilding Our Nation, Renewing Our Society
Podesta forwarded the report to McDonough at the White House, who responded to him, “Terrific.”
In a prior email unveiled by WikiLeaks, dated February of 2012, Podesta assured Voices of Progress president Sandy Newman that a “Catholic Spring” which would “plant the seeds of revolution” in the Catholic Church would be realized with the help of his dissident “Catholic” groups.
“We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this,” wrote Podesta. “Likewise Catholics United.”