Democratic candidate Christopher Hale is accused by his former employers of misusing confidential mailing and email lists to solicit donations for a personal nonprofit, according to documents provided to the Murfreesboro Voice.
Hale is running against Noelle Bivens for the Democratic nomination for Tennessee's 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The winner will square off against incumbent Scott DesJarlais, R-Jasper.
According to the documents, Hale's former employer, Catholics United Education Fund, accused him of using its mailing and email lists to solicit donations to a new nonprofit venture he started in 2017.
Hale was the executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good from November 2013-July 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile. The nonprofit was connected to the progressive advocacy group Catholics United Education Fund.
A letter (PDF) penned by James Joseph from the law firm Arnold & Porter alleges that Hale used the lists to ask for donations to The Francis Project, which its now defunct website claimed was a progressive Catholic nonprofit that would focus on social justice and lobby against the Donald Trump administration.
Specifically, the emails (PDF) said new organization would focus on lobbying against the administrations policies on "immigration reform, racial justice, and climate change."
However, according to the letter, The Francis Project wasn't a registered nonprofit and the funds were instead being directed to a for-profit D.C.-based corporation called "Christopher Hale d/b/a (doing business as) "Francis Project."
A check of GuideStar, the online database of nonprofit reports and IRS 990 forms, returned no results for "Francis Project" in D.C., Virginia, Maryland or Tennessee. Similar searches of the business registries for the same states returned active no results. GuideStar's database has records back to 2012.
Hale's bio on The Washington Post from a 2018 column said he "is a co-founder of the Francis Project, which promotes the social justice mission of the Catholic Church in American politics."
The letter also contends that Hale continued to use the mailing list after being asked to stop.
"The Organization has asked Mr. Hale to stop his fraudulent use of the Organization’s mailing and email lists repeatedly, including at least once in person at a Board of Directors meeting held on October 23, 2017, and in a formal cease and desist letter delivered by Arnold & Porter to Mr. Hale on June 20, 2018," Joseph wrote.
According to the letter, Hale continued to use the lists.