|Matthew Staver, NHCLC Chief Legal Counsel|
My last post featured an open letter to Samuel Rodriguez and the leadership of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). This letter, which was sent directly to Rev. Rodriguez and to his press secretary, featured four questions:
1. When will you correct your website by removing Rev. Harkins from your Board of Advisors and taking down his picture from all promotional materials associated with your organization?
2. Why has Rev. Harkins been listed on your advisory board when, according to him, he has “no association with NHCLC, or the advisory board in any way”?
3. Are there other figures on your publicity materials that are similarly unaware of the way that their reputation is being used to enhance the public image of your organization?
4. The NHCLC has been a part of amicus briefs siding with major power companies. Is the leadership of NHCLC aware that the organization is siding with power companies in these lawsuits? How does this relate to the stated mission of the NHCLC?
Shortly after sending this letter and posting it at this blog I received communication from Matthew Staver, Chief Legal Counsel for the NHCLC. This demonstrated to me how seriously the NHCLC viewed my questions and I was pleased to correspond with Mr. Staver about the questions. After doing his own research into the questions, including the question related to the involvement of the NHCLC in legal briefs on behalf of major oil and power companies, Mr. Staver issued the following statement in response to my questions:
Regarding the amicus brief, NHCLC worked with CORE, the Congress on Racial Equality, but CORE, not NHCLC, filed the amicus brief. NHCLC was unaware that its name was listed and did not consent to the name being listed. CORE has already issued regrets to NHCLC for listing its name. NHCLC would not have and did not give consent to be listed.
Regarding the website, the list of Advisors was done some time ago regarding Mr. Harkins. NHCLC was unaware that he wanted to be removed. NHCLC has sent him an email to confirm his desire and upon hearing from him will remove his name if that is his desire.
No one else to our knowledge is on the Advisors list who desires to be removed.
These answers are extraordinary and are worthy of considerable dissection and analysis, which I intend to give them in the days to come. For now I want to briefly note a few facts.
First, while I am obviously not privy to any private correspondence or discussion between CORE and NHCLC, I have seen no indication of any public sign of “regrets to NHCLC” from CORE. Nothing was sent to me indicating regret by CORE, CORE’s website has no sign of that regret, and the Affordable Power Alliance which CORE and the NHCLC are key members of gives no indication of any disagreement between them at its website.
Second, Rev. Harkins is still listed as a member of the Board of Advisors, with his picture, ironically, just above Mr. Staver’s at the NHCLC website.
Third, the amicus briefs that I linked to in my open letter were quite clear in their inclusion of the NHCLC within the filing paperwork. In the amicus brief filed before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals the very first page says the following: “BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE THE AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION AND THE AFFORDABLE POWER ALLIANCE IN SUPPORT OF DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES UPON REHEARING EN BANC” and then reads “Counsel for Amici the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Affordable Power Alliance (comprised of the Congress of Racial Equality, the High Impact Leadership Coalition, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and the 60- Plus Association)”.
The amicus brief filed before the United States Supreme Court reads on page one “BRIEF FOR AMICUS CURIAE NATIONAL BLACK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND AFFORDABLE POWER ALLIANCE IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONERS” and on page two defines the Affordable Power Alliance quite clearly:
The Affordable Power Alliance, an ad hoc coalition of civil rights, African American, Latino, small business, senior citizens and faith- based advocacy organizations. Its members include:
§ The Congress of Racial Equality, which was founded in 1942 and is the third oldest and one of the “Big Four” Civil Rights groups in the United States;
§ The High Impact Leadership Coalition, a national coalition of faith-based leaders, ministers and churches;
§ The National Hispanic Christian Leader- ship Conference, the largest Latino Christian organization in America, with 16-million Latino evangelical members and 24,000 member churches
While I appreciate the prompt and courteous response of Mr. Staver on behalf of the NHCLC, I believe his answers raise profound questions about the direction of the NHCLC and its stewardship of the trust and interests of the thousands of congregations and millions of individuals it claims to be working on behalf of. These questions must be raised with all clarity and candor precisely for the welfare of those congregations and individuals, as well as for the broader integrity of the other institutions that Rodriguez is a significant part of. I know that I will continue to raise these questions and I trust that more and more writers will be doing the same.