Federally Funded Catholic Relief Services Paid Future Obama Ambassador $384K

Michael W. Chapman | December 6, 2013 | 9:26am EST
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U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Ken Hackett, the former president of Catholic Relief Services. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Ken Hackett, the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, previously headed the non-profit charity Catholic Relief Services (CRS), which receives hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government grants each year, and which paid him $384,013 in total compensation in 2011. He received similar compensation in earlier years.

President Barack Obama nominated Ken Hackett to be the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See in June 2013 and Hackett was confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 1. He presented his credentials personally to Pope Francis at the Vatican on Oct. 21.

Between 2003 and 2011, Hackett was president of Catholic Relief Services, which is headquartered in Baltimore and whose mission is to carry out “the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas.”

Between 1993 and 2003, Hackett held the No. 2 position at CRS as its executive director. He has worked at the non-profit since 1972. Hackett retired from CRS in December 2011; for that year, the charity’s total revenues were $822,944,000.

Of those revenues, $224,046,000 came from private donations and the balance of $592,765,000 came from public support, including U.S. government grants, other public grants, and in-kind gifts. (A further $6,133,000 in revenue was generated from investments and "other.")

(AP Photo)

Catholic Relief Services has been taking grants from the U.S. government, what it calls USG grants, since the early 1960s. In its 2011 annual report, CRS said it received $351,625,000 in USG grants. The money from the U.S. government represented 42.7% of CRS's budget that year.

Many of the grants CRS received from the U.S. government came from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Others came from the Department of State, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Then-CRS President Ken Hackett told contributors in CRS's 2011 annual report: “The gifts you shared with us totaled $224 million, which helped leverage another $611 million in resources from the U.S. government and other sources.”

USG grants to CRS in earlier years when Hackett was president were as follows:

2010: $312,830,000

2009: $287,050,000

2008: $257,981,000

2007: $216,378,000

2006: $205,447,000

In 2011, Hackett’s last year as president of CRS, the group’s 990 tax form shows that his reportable compensation from CRS was $322,394. It further states that the “estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations” to Hackett were $61,619, making his total compensation that year $384,013.

The 990 tax forms for earlier years and Hackett’s reported total compensation are listed as follows:

2010: $381,302

2009:  $322,562

2008: $339,693

2007: $290,000

2006: $280,000

Campaign donation records from the FEC on OpenSecrets.org show that Hackett donated $250 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign on Aug. 5, 2012, and another $250 on Oct. 4, 2012.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama (AP File Photo)

Despite the Obama administration’s promotion of abortion on demand and same-sex-marriage, as well as the Obamacare regulation it issued mandating that health plans provide cost-free coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion drugs (which the Catholic bishops have declared “unjust and illegal” and a “violation of personal civil rights”), Ambassador Hackett told the National Catholic Register: “I don’t have a problem representing this administration.”

Hackett also told the National Catholic Register: “I like to focus on the positive. … There are so many issues where I feel the Obama administration is exactly on the right track. I’m going to focus on those issues and lift them up, so that we are a nation that is concerned about the poor in the world, the injustices in the world, and the issues of peace. Those are the issues that I can represent well.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan who, in 2011, was chairman of the board of Catholic Relief Services and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  (AP Photo/Stewart Cairns, File)

In the United States, however, at least 43 Catholic institutions are suing the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services over the mandate that requires nearly all health insurers to offer contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion drugs without co-payments. The U.S. bishops say the mandate is a violation of religious liberty under the First Amendment.

Among those institutions suing the Obama administration is the University of Notre Dame, which honored Ambassador Hackett with the prestigious Laetare Medal in 2012 for his life-long work in helping the poor and less fortunate.

Despite the lawsuits and the Catholic Church’s opposition to the Obamacare mandate, Ambassador Hackett said in late October, “There are elements of the health-care agenda that are beneficial to the poor, and you can’t dismiss that--that poor people are getting care that they didn’t get before. Others may have views that are different, but I don’t a problem representing them,” the Obama administration.
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