"We try our best to challenge both parties to be more consistent in their values so we take pride in getting criticism from both the left and the right," he said, adding that they have criticized the Democratic party for a "politics of exclusion" particularly on the issue of life. "If our job is to be a front group in for the Democratic party, then we're doing a pretty terrible job at it."
"I think John's email from 2011 doesn't reflect our work day in and day out."
Hale acknowledged that in the past, the organization has received funding from philanthropist and liberal activist George Soros, but added that the organization has not received a grant from Soros in 10 years. Hale also noted that the organization has changed its emphasis in recent years, speaking out more against abortion currently than it has in the past.
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good promotes tenets of the Catholic faith including a respect for life, preferential option for the poor, peace, and stewardship of creation.
During the 2016 election, members of the organization have published numerous prominent articles criticizing Republican candidate Donald Trump and the Republican ticket, and have routinely denounced many of the Trump campaign's positions.
The group has also criticized Democratic stances on issues such as abortion, however, it generally refrains from directly naming or criticizing Hillary Clinton.
Asked about this imbalance, Hale told CNA that the organization criticizes both parties and campaigns.
"We're not letting Clinton off the hook," he stated, adding that the organization has "relationships with both campaigns" and has also brought up their concerns directly to the campaigns.
Catholics in the Alliance for the Common Good is also affiliated with Pennsylvania advocacy organization Keystone Catholics, which was the recipient of a $75,000 grant from the Catholics United Education Fund, dedicated to "pushing forward an LGBT equality agenda within the Catholic Church, in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States."
Catholics United did not respond to CNA's request for comment.
In the leaked email, Podesta also suggested Newman consult Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lt. Governor of Maryland and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy Townsend has also served on the board of the National Catholic Reporter, and gave a 2008 keynote address to the national conference of Call to Action, which dissents from Church teaching on issues of sexuality and women's ordination. In the speech, she further criticized the bishops' teachings on same-sex "marriage," stem cell research, abortion, and called the election of President Barack Obama "a wonderful rebuke to the hierarchy."
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Kevin Jones contributed to this report.
Editor's note: Corrected Oct. 14, 2016, 10:26 am. A previous version of this article stated that Alexia Kelley was head of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good in 2012. In fact, she had left the organization in 2009, and the article has been updated to reflect this.