Ethicspoint Disappoints: Terry Donilon Complaint

July 1, 2011

BCI has been shaking our head in dismay as the Boston Archdiocese has literally flapped in the proverbial “public relations wind” over the situation at St. Cecilia Church in Boston in recent weeks. We have seen the newspaper articles and have been copied directly or blind cc:ed on emails that show the true colors on exactly how badly the PR team for the archdiocese has bungled communications about this situation and continues to bungle it.

Just as BCI was considering various angles for our coverage of that fiasco, we received the email below from a reader about another fiasco–how their Ethicspoint whistleblower complaint regarding the conflict of interest around the hiring of Terry Donilon has been ignored for nearly the past 3 months.

As long-time readers may recall, BCI covered the conflict of interest around the hiring of Terry Donilon by Ann Carter of Rasky Baerlein nearly a year ago, on July 19, 2010 in our post, Conflicts of Interest: Part I, and in our post of October 19, 2010, Sham Search: Terry Donilon.

Nothing has happened since then, except that the quality of public communications from 66 Brooks Drive seems to BCI and our readers to have gotten worse, with more flapping in the wind and deception coming from 66 Brooks. This is exemplified by the deception over the Daughters of St. Paul lawsuit and intervention by the Cardinal, as well as the deception  and confusing messages over the latest flap at St. Cecilia Church in Boston.

What also has happened since then is that the archdicoese finally implemented an anonymous whistleblower process–years after auditors recommended it–so employees can file claims (using the 3rd-party Ethicspoint software system) over matters of corruption like financial wrongdoing, misuse of funds, ethical breaches, conflicts of interest, workplace harrassment, etc.  They are supposed to be investigated, addressed and acted upon, with a response coming back to the person who filed the claim.

Unfortunately, the very concerns BCI raised beforehand about implementation of such a process in the Boston Archdiocese have happened. It is not a problem with the Ethicspoint technology–it is a combination of the people and process in the archdiocese which is broken. Truly broken.  As BCI has said before, the Boston archdiocesan anti-corruption initiative is itself corrupted.

Below you will see the actual report submitted by an archdiocesan employee on April 9, 2011 that they emailed us a few days ago. We were honored to see how some of what BCI previously reported made its way into the complaint. But BCI was troubled to hear the employee has received no response other than an acknowledgement of their complaint in nearly 3 months.  Here is their report/complaint, with slight edits by BCI.

——————————————————————————
The organization does not have any questions or comments at this time.
Report Submission Date
4/9/2011

Reported Company/Branch
Information

Location Former chancery
City/State/Zip brighton, ma, u.s.

Violation Information
Issue Type
Conflict of Interest
Please identify the person(s) engaged in this behavior:
Sean O’Malley – Cardinal
Bryan Hehir – Secretary for Social Services
Jim McDonough – Chancellor
Do you suspect or know that a supervisor or management is involved?
Yes
If yes, then who?
Cardinal O’Malley
Is management aware of this problem?
Yes
What is the general nature of this matter?
Conflict of interest–A vendor paid by the archdiocese hired a key lay employee who has since then been responsible for determining the compensation and level of engagement of that vendor who hired the employee.
Please provide the specific or approximate time this incident occurred:
April 2005
How long do you think this problem has been going on?
More than a year
How did you become aware of this violation?
I observed it
Please identify any persons who have attempted to conceal this problem and the steps they took to conceal it:
Fr. Hehir, Cardinal O’Malley, and Chancellor mcDonough have all ignored it.
Details
In late 2004, early 2005 a search was undertaken to find a new secretary for communications. Ann Carter, of Rasky Baerlein, led the search effort.The position would determine when she was retained, how often and for how many hours she was retained, what she and her firm would be paid, and whether they would be retained in the future.This is the first conflict of interest, apparently approved by Fr. Hehir. Regardless of the competency level of the vendor, how can you have a paid vendor hire the person who will then determine the firm’s pay and future level of engagement with there not being an inherent conflict of interest?She was quoted in the Boston Globe on April 15, 2005 in their announcement of Donilon’s appointment saying, “Terry Donilon is an experienced communicator who loves the church.” The person quoted in such announcements is usually the person who led the search, but even if she did not “lead” the search, she play the key role in it.Terry–who was leaving Shaws Supermarkets or was already gone–had an inside connection for the job. Ann Carter is CEO of Rasky Baerlein, where the founder and Chairman is Larry Rasky, who has known the Donilon family from his political work starting with the Joe Biden campaign back in 1988. Here’s a piece from the Boston Globe giving the
history.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles_of_faith/2008/12/an_omalleyobama.htmlThe two older brothers and a sister-in-law of archdiocesan spokesman Terrence C. Donilon (right) are all expected to land high-ranking posts in the Obama administration. Terry is the youngest of four Donilon siblings; his brother Mike has been named counselor to the vice president, his brother Tom is expected to become deputy national security adviser, and Tom’s wife, Cathy Russell, has been named chief of staff to Biden’s wife Jill. Interestingly, the Donilons are not the cardinal’s only connection to Biden — the archdiocese retains as public relations consultants the firm of Rasky Baerlein, headed by Larry Rasky, who served as Biden’s campaign spokesman in 2007 and in 1988. (Biden will be the first Catholic vice president, but is also viewed warily by some bishops because he, like Obama, supports abortion rights.)In Politico Friday, Alexander Burns wrote about Tom and Mike Donilon and Cathy Russell. An excerpt:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/16031.html

“How has this trio ended up so close to the center of an administration promising an infusion of new blood? There are a number of reasons, but the most important is
Joe Biden. ‘Cathy goes back 20 years with Joe Biden, and Mike goes back even longer on campaigns; Tom goes back more than 20 years,’ said a friend of the
Donilon family who asked not to be named. ‘They stayed very close over the years with the Bidens, so that’s part of it.’ In a news release, the transition team
noted that Mike Donilon had advised the Delaware senator since the early 1980s, and both Tom Donilon and Cathy Russell worked on Biden’s 1988 presidential
run.”

Resumes of far superior candidates interested in the job never made it to the full search committee. I believe, though am not 100% sure of this, that a well-qualified woman who worked in PR at [edited by BCI] who was also a parish council member at her local parish applied, but could not even got an interview. (Check the resumes around the time when they hired a #2, Kevin Shea, and you will see that the woman did get interviewed then, after someone close to the Archbishop pulled her resume from the dust-bin). Anyone familiar with Terry’s work knows that he can’t spell and his grammar is also bad. Every press release or statement requires the attention and spin of Fr. Bryan Hehir and Ann Carter.

So, to summarize, Ann Carter worked with Larry Rasky, who knew the Donilon brothers from politics. Donilon brother, Terry, was looking for a job after doing PR for Shaws Supermarkets, and Ann Carter was leading the search for the Communications role at the archdiocese at the same time. Other more experienced superior candidates were just never considered.

But now there is the conflict of interest that for the past 5 years, Terry determines the engagement level with a past obligation hanging over him that Ann Carter and
Rasky were responsible for his being hired. On top of that you have Ann Carter also having served on the search committee for Chancellor Jim McDonough,  who also has responsibility over the budget and level of funding available for the PR expenses. Notwithstanding the inherent conflict of interest of having  Ann Carter, CEO of the PR vendor paid by the archdiocese on the search committee for the chancellor, Ms. Carter was a Board member at Abington Bank when Jim  McDonough was CEO of the bank and Ms. Carter made more than $400K in profit from her Abington Bank stock. Ms. Carter joined the Abington Bank board in 2002 for a two-year term, and her term was extended to 2006 by a shareholder vote in July 2003. According to Abington Bank’s July 2003 annual shareholder meeting financial disclosure, Carter held 12,400 shares of stock (or .32% of the shares outstanding). When Abington Bank sold to Seacoast in June of 2004 for $139.4 million, Ms. Carter’s shares were worth .32% of $139 million or about $450,000.

In summary, Ann Carter was on the search committee that selected communications secretary, Terry Donilon, who has managed her services and compensation for the past 6 years. In late 2004-mid 2005, Ms Carter made a substantial amount of money on the sale of Abington Bank by virtue of Jim McDonough having her serve on the Board, and then in December of 2005, Ms Carter was put on the Archdiocesan search committee and played a key role in hiring Jim McDonough as Chancellor. His appointment was announced on June 5, 2006. Both of these cabinet officials have decision-making authority over how much Carter (the person who helped select them) would be paid for work by the archdiocese and has been paid. Staff members at the archdiocese objected to this conflict of interest, but were overruled, I believe by Secretary for Healthcare and Social Services, Fr. Bryan Hehir.

How can it be expected that Terry Donilon or Chancellor McDonough can make independent decisions about whether to continue engagement of Rasky Baerlein or whether the archdiocese is getting reasonable value for the expenses when both of them are beholden to Ann Carter for their jobs in hiring processes that represent a very clear conflict of interest? Why were and are these conflicts of interest permitted and allowed to continue? It seems to me and other employees that the only way this problem can be reasonably solved is for Rasky Baerlein to be replaced by a different PR agency.

Follow-Up Questions/Comments
Apr 12, 2011, 7:10 AM
Comment: Thank you for filing this report. We have received it and are beginning our review. Please continue to follow up on a weekly basis.

Apr 25, 2011, 3:37 PM
Reply: Hello, it’s been several weeks since I submitted this report. Are you still working on it?

May 03, 2011, 9:34 AM
Comment: We continue to review this information and are still in the process of conducting interviews.

May 10, 2011, 6:43 AM
Reply: OK. While you are interviewing people, you may want to speak with Kevin Shea, now at Boston College, who served in the RCAB communications office under Terry Donilon for a year. He had previously worked in PR for the Boston Red Sox before the RCAB. I believe he may have applied for the job when Ann Carter ran the search and was rejected in favor of Terry Donilon, even though Kevin is and was objectively more competent and articulate.

The other information I provided I am rather certain of, but the information about Kevin applying for the job when Ann ran the search I am not certain of. A candid conversation with Kevin would no doubt reveal that Terry is not [edited by BCI] for the job.

Follow-Up Notes
Jun 10, 2011, 7:04 AM
It’s now been two months since I submitted this report. Nothing seems to have happened. Can I ask who specifically–by name–is responsible for investigating this matter and what they have now concluded after 2 months?

———————————————————————

BCI hates to be publicizing confidential whistleblower complaints like this. However, if the archdiocese is going to implement a program and process and then ignore it, BCI feels it is appropriate for us to publish claims, in the interest of helping the archdiocese do a better job in the future.

BCI sees a multitude of problems here. We raised the conflict of interest nearly a year ago and nothing happened.  We reminded the archdiocese about the recommendation by auditors for an anonymous whistleblower policy nearly a year ago, and as exemplified by this employee experience, the implementation has exactly the flaws we raised as potential concerns. The archdiocese expended considerable resources to implement an anti-corruption whistleblower policy and process (which went live in March), and then they have not abided by their own Code of Conduct policy and whistleblower process.

Meanwhile, back at 66 Brooks Drive, where the Secretary for Communications and Public Affairs had costs of $288,824 in 2010 and the Communications and Public Affairs budget for 2011 is $573,000 (including Mass Catholic Conference), PR for the archdiocese appears to be a disaster. One blogger said, “It’s like they’re consulting with former Rep. Anthony Weiner for expertise on PR, honesty, and damage control.”

The excellent Pastoral Letter on Evanglization by Cardinal O’Malley was overshadowed by the fiasco at St. Cecilia and bungled communications around it.  Weeks and months worth of public statements this year reveal the archdiocese struggles to communicate with consistency, clarity and at times complete truthfulness.

In the interest of the greater good of the Catholic Church in Boston, BCI recommends that the new Vicar General consider ways to fix the broken, corrupted anti-corruption program, review and address the conflict of interest raised above (and other grave conflicts of interest raised by BCI), and also do something to dramatically improve the clarity, consistency and truthfulness of public relations and communications for the archdiocese.

What do you think?  (NOTE: Please focus any comments on the main topic of this post–namely the conflict of interest, corrupted anti-corruption program, and problems in PR/communications NOT the issues specifically at St. Cecilia Church, which need their own separate forum outside of the main focus of BCI for airing and discussing. Some people who have been itching to comment further on that latter topic may see this post as their opening, but please do BCI a favor and do not go there, otherwise we will have to moderate those comments).

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and blessed July 4 weekend!


Is Archdiocesean Anti-Corruption Effort Corrupted and Conflicted?

May 4, 2011

On March 25, the archdiocese released a Code of Conduct policy and anonymous whistleblower process using a 3rd-party tool, Ethicspoint, whereby anyone can file a report of a violation of the Code of Conduct and have it investigated.  The policy itself and the process outlined for the archdiocese to investigate claims raised a number of questions that we did not have the time to bring up then, but now that a number of readers have submitted claims and received responses, we feel we need to open that can of worms.

Below, you will find an example of a claim recently submitted and the response, which left a BCI reader sufficiently dissatisfied that they just sent it our way. It is the 4th complaint BCI has received about the program. If you have tried submitting claims and got back an unsatisfactory response, please email it to us.

Archdiocesan auditors had recommended the archdiocese implement an anonymous whistleblower program for years, and BCI reminded the archdiocese about this for a number of months.  But from our first post on the topic through our most recent one in January, Whistleblower Policy: Progress and Problems, we raised concerns about weak leadership and the proposed plan of routing claims to the very people responsible for the problems, or to no one.  Then there are the ambiguities about the policy itself as currently worded.  Little more than a month into the program, it seems that the chickens have come home to roost. The program that was time-consuming for the archdiocese to develop and implement may already have proven sufficiently ambigious and subject to interpretation that it is ineffective.

First, here is the Ethicspoint website for the Boston Archdiocese where you can read the Code of Conduct Policy and/or file a claim. Claims can be filed in these categories:

  • Financial, Auditing, Accounting and Stewardship Misconduct: Accounting, Auditing and Internal Financial Controls; Abuse of or Fraud with Benefits; Donor Stewardship; Embezzlement; Falsification of Contracts, Reports or Records; Theft (Larceny, Burglary, Robbery); Time Abuse
  • Archdiocesan Employee Code of Conduct Violation or Misconduct: Conflict of Interest, Data Privacy, Disclosure of Confidential Information, Discrimination or Harassment, Gifts and Entertainment, Improper Lobbying or Political Contribution, Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior, Retaliation, Sabotage or Vandalism, Substance Abuse
  • Workplace Safety: Unsafe Working Conditions

The Reporting Process is described in this document, which says, “Whether made through the Archdiocesan website or via the dedicated toll-free telephone hotline, all reports…will be given careful attention by the appropriate Archdiocesan Vicar or Director. All reports submitted will be supervised by the Audit Committee of the Archdiocese of Boston Finance Council. If a submitted report references the Vicar or Director who is responsible for investigating in the area of concern of your report then they will be omitted from the reporting process.”

Below is an example of a recently submitted report and the response.

Report Submitted

Issue Type
Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior

Please identify the person(s) engaged in this behavior:
Jack Connors – Finance Council member, Chair of Campaign for Catholic Schools

Do you suspect or know that a supervisor or management is involved?
Yes

If yes, then who?
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley

Is management aware of this problem?
Yes

What is the general nature of this matter?
Connors is violating the Code of Conduct by hosting fund-raisers for pro-abortion political candidates and by serving on the Board of Partners Healthcare, which provides abortions.

Where did this incident or violation occur?
multiple times. see below

How long do you think this problem has been going on?
More than a year

How did you become aware of this violation?
Other

If other, how?
I read it in the newspapers all the time

Details
The Code of Conduct says “The public and private conduct of Church Personnel can be a source of inspiration and motivation, but it can also scandalize and undermine the faith of the people that are served.”

“Church personnel who disregard or violate this code will be subject to remedial action. This action can take several forms, from an oral or written warning to removal and termination of employment or services.”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in a 2007 interview with the Boston Globe: acknowledging that Catholic voters in Massachusetts generally support Democratic candidates who are in favor of abortion rights, said, “I think that, at times, it borders on scandal as far as I’m concerned.”

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/11/15/omalley_draws_line_with_democrats/

This article in the Boston Herald says Jack is hosting a fundraiser at his home for the most pro-abortion President in our country’s history.

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view/2011_0429a_smile_worth_10g_yes_you_can_pay_to_pal_with_prez/srvc=home&position=4

Here we have Jack Connors hosting pro-abortion politician, Joe Biden for a “friend-raiser.”

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2011/03/biden_to_visit_1.html

Jack is Chairman of Partners Healthcare, whose Brigham and Women’s Hospital profits from performing 4,300 abortions every year (3,600 first-trimester and 570 second-trimester).

http://www.partnersobgynres.org/programinformation.asp

Jack was the Co-Chair of the 2004 Democratic National Convention that nominated Sen. John Kerry for president. Sen. Kerry is pro-abortion.

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6001a1.htm?s_cid=ss6001a1_w

Jack publicly endorsed Martha Coakley for U.S. Senate.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/11/22/yoon_pushes_proposed_ordinance_on_term_limits_for_mayor/?page=2

Martha Coakely is pro-abortion. In a January 2010 radio interview, when asked about conscience rights and religious freedom for Catholic healthcare workers who believe what the Pope teaches, Coakley responded, “You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/watercooler/2010/jan/14/martha-coakley-devout-catholics-probably-shouldnt-/

The Code of Conduct says Connors, by being a Finance Council member and Chair of the Campaign for Catholic Schools, qualifies as “Church Personnel.” His private conduct supporting pro-abortion politicians is a source of scandal, according to Cardinal O’Malley himself, and undermines the faith of the people that are served. It would seem to me that remedial action needs to be taken. If Connors does not cancel the upcoming Obama fundraiser, then I believe based on the Code of Conduct, he needs to be removed from any service to the Archdiocese of Boston.

Here is the Ethicspoint Response:

Mr. Connors is not representing the Archdiocese of  Boston at this event. The Code of Conduct does not bar Church Personnel or Volunteers from attending or hosting fund raising events. There is no violation of the Code of Conduct.

#   #   #   #

The reader commented the following to BCI,

The policy clearly states “Church Personnel will conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as enunciated by the Holy Father and the Bishops in communion with him.  More specifically, Church Personnel shall, in all such matter, accept, rely upon, and defer to the teaching authority of the Archbishop in all matters of faith and morals.”  Does someone in the archdiocese not realize that abortion is against the teachings of the Church?!!  They write a Code of Conduct policy that says private conduct can be a source of scandal and undermine the faith of people, but when I raise a claim of two instances of private conduct that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Church and scandalous, one of which our archbishop himself said publicly borders on scandal, they respond saying there is no violation. Who makes the decision that Jack Connors’ behavior is not a source of scandal and thereby a violation of the policy?  How do we know that person or those persons who reviewed my claim and responded themselves agree with the teachings of the Church?  The policy is clearly bogus. There is not even a way for me to respond to the bogus decision. BCI needs to expose that the program is corrupt.

This gets back to something that reader, “Objective Observer” objectively observed in a comment right after the policy was issued:

1. VERY POORLY DRAFTED — overly broad and vague; standards are wildly subjective; open to completely inconsistent enforcement; flunks the
“whim” test; which makes it…

2. UNENFORCEABLE… The standard is completely subjective —so need not be applied consistently. In other words, the circumstances of violation in the Code are very broad and vague, and the enforcement is completely subjective — some “Church personnel” (the list includes everyone except your cat) could be fired AND sued, others could be left to do as they please.

After looking at several emails forwarded to us by people who have filed what BCI feels are valid claims, we concur that both the policy and the program are flawed, conflicted, and perhaps even corrupted.

The intention of a Code of Conduct and an anonymous whistleblower policy is good. But this particular policy as worded and the implementation need work. Pastors are going to have to complain about this.

What do you think?

ps. For the moment, if you find the response to the claim above problematic, we encourage readers to submit their own Ethicspoint reports on this same issue (or other issues).  You can submit anonymously via the Ethicspoint website, or you can call 1-866-491-5283.  The only way we believe this flawed policy and program be made right is for people like you to weigh in on it. Keep us posted how you make out.


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