The controversial negotiations which could end the presence of Catholic hospitals in the Greater Boston area has focused attention on Martha Coakley’s failed bid to gain a U.S. Senate seat. In a letter from the Coalition To Save Catholic Health Care, she is being asked to recuse herself on any recommendation to approve a deal for the transfer of the Caritas Christi 6-hospital chain to Steward Healthcare LLC, an entity created by Cerberus Capital Management L.P.

“The Attorney General would be involved in a patently obvious conflict of interest, should she recommend approval of any agreement.  The CEO of Caritas Christi, Dr. Ralph de la Torre and AG Martha Coakley have a history which clearly precludes her being able to affirm any deal involving Caritas Christi,” said R. T. Neary, Chairman of CTSCHC.   

During her recent Senate run, Dr. de la Torre and his wife contributed the maximum amount allowed by law to Coakley’s campaign.  They also hosted a fundraiser, including many Caritas officials who made large contributions, as did other invitees.

“Dr. de la Torre would stand to benefit substantially by the conversion of the 6-hospital chain.” stated the letter.  “He would assume control of the new organization, but the full details of the agreement with him and the perquisites have not been made public – as they ought to be for transparency,” the letter added. 

Coakley has been quoted in the media as denying that any conflict of interest exists.  “Are we being asked to believe that because she was not the victor in the Senatorial contest, she no longer has any conflict?” Neary asked.  “The conflict is transparent to the extreme.  The die is already cast, and she would do well to admit that by refraining from any opinion,” he concluded.  The Coalition To Save Catholic Hospitals has stated that it will pursue all avenues.  

Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall has been sent a copy of the letter to the AG, as the Supreme Judicial Court would be the recipient of any recommendation made by Coakley.

The Coalition has written to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, requesting that he call for ending the negotiations with the controversial Cerberus venture capital company, which has shown it seeks to eliminate the Roman Catholic identity of these hospitals and terminate a century and a half of Catholic health care in the Greater Boston area.