For the benefit of newer readers who think “sham searches” is something new for the Boston Archdiocese with the soon-to-be-publicly-announced appointment of the new Secretary for Institutional Advancment, Kathleen Driscoll, we thought we would mention that the Boston Archdiocese has gotten this down to practically a science over the years (or down to an art form, depending on how you look at it).
Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications, was the first such “sham search’ under Cardinal O’Malley. Ann Carter, of PR firm Rasky Baerlein, led the search. Note the immediate conflict of interest of a vendor paid by the archdiocese hiring the person who would manage their services and decide on their continuing employment. But that is not what makes it a “sham search”–here at Boston Catholic Insider, we hold the standards for a “sham search” much higher than that.
What makes this one a sham search is that Ann Carter is CEO of Rasky Baerlein, where the founder and Chairman is Larry Rasky, who coincidentally has known the Donilon family for years from his political work starting with the Joe Biden campaign back in 1988. Here’s a blurb from the Boston Globe giving the history.
The 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:
“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.”
Tom Donilon was recently named National Security Advisor to President Obama, who coincidentally was in town this past weekend for a fund-raiser at the Newton home of Caritas Christi CEO Ralph de la Torre. Everyone is asking us if we attended the event, but unfortunately we were not invited. (Just for kicks, compare the background of Tom Donilon as National Security Advisor vs that of his predecessor, Gen. James L. Jones. But we digress…)
As we reported in Conflicts of Interest: Part I, back in 2005 Ms. Carter was on the search committee that selected Communications Secretary, Terry Donilon–the position that would determine when she was retained, how often and for how many hours she was retained, and what she and her firm would be paid. 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. We are told that resumes of far superior candidates interested in the job never made it to the full search committee. People inside the archdiocese familiar with Terry’s work indicate that he is spelling-challenged and writing-challenged, and just about every press release or statement requires the attention and spin of Fr. Bryan Hehir and Ann Carter.
In the absence of a graphic, just to recap, here is how it worked for the search. Ann Carter worked with Larry Rasky, who knew the Donilon brothers from politics. Donilon brother, Terry, coincidentally was looking for a job after doing PR for Shaws Supermarkets, and by coincidence, 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. We call this a “sham search.” See how it works? Usually the press release announcing the result of the sham search says something about the person chosen being “an experienced blah-blah-blah…who loves the Church.”
This has been repeated and refined a number of times now. The people involved in these are the same names you have heard over and over–Fr. Bryan Hehir, Chancellor Jim McDonough, Jack Connors, and Cardinal O’Malley who is ultimately responsible and accountable over these people on his senior team. Does this give you confidence in the direction of the Boston archdiocese?
We are interested to see how it will be spun any day now for the Secretary of Institutional Advancement with a quote from Jack Connors and the Cardinal.