The Pizza-man Delivers: Monaghan's Dough for Radical Right Politicos (Thirteenth in a Series)
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Oct 22, 2006 at 09:34:47 AM EST
We're trying to create people that are going to change the world.
--Thomas Monaghan

In the last few installments in my series on the Catholic Right we've looked at Thomas Monaghan, his background, how he made his money and how he uses it to shape society to reflect  his subjective brand of ultra-orthodox Catholicism. In this final installment, his political contributions will be examined.

As we know, Tom Monaghan has a plan, and he uses his wealth, in alliance with similarly-mind ultra-orthodox Catholic CEOs  to lay the foundation for a more theocratic society.  Their primary method is to underwrite educational systems steeped in pre-Vatican II notions of Catholicism. The mission of both the Ave Maria University, and Law School, is to churn out future corporate executives, lawyers, judges and political leaders who would increasingly graft his version of natural law principles unto American jurisprudence.

But education and community are only parts of his plan. Equally as important is his desire to influence American federal elections. And to that end, Monaghan has financed pols with simpatico views on natural law theocracy and anti-labor, laissez-faire economics. Until 2005, Monaghan used two political actions committees to feed the campaigns of candidates in close races who reflected his twin visions of laissez-faire economics and ultra-orthodox Catholicism. And although both PACs are now defunct, the mechanism that the Pizza-man started has simply evolved into another organization, fronted by close associates.

A review of Monaghan's political donations since 1984 shows that of a total of $238,031  disbursed, only $6,000 went to Democrats, another $68,500 to special interests while (as of June 2006) a hefty $161, 531 went to Republicans. And of late, those GOP is a who's who list of the darlings of the Religious Right. These include US Senators Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); fellow Opus Dei embryonic stem cell research opponent Sam Brownback (R-Ks.); Mel Martinez (R-Fl.)(i)  and 2006 US Senate candidate Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fl.) of Election 2000 Recount fame.

Monaghan's other vehicle for political donations was The Ave Maria PAC, a 527 committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission. It is a "hard" money PAC. A review of its contributors for 2003-2004 shows that it was funded by wealthy executives and business owners. Among the PAC's more interesting contributions was a $3,000 donation to Family PAC. Family PAC's list of recipients similarly reads as a list a who's who on the Religious Right (including GOP Senators Santorum, Mel Martinez  and Jim Talent) as well the more radically Right group Club for Growth's PAC.

Monaghan's second vehicle was a "soft" money PAC called the Ave Maria List. Its list of contributors include theocon Michael Novak, Amway magnate and current GOP Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, Cablevision and Madison Square Garden owner Charles Dolan as well as the late New York Giants owner Wellington Mara. The Ave Maria List was particularly active supporting John Thune's 2004 U.S. Senate victory over South Dakota's Tom Daschle.

As Jeff Huber and Jerry Soucy both reported in their ongoing coverage of Monaghan at E Pluribasmedia.com:

According to The Center for Public Integrity, the Ave Maria List 527 reported $175,000 in revenue in 2004, of which Monaghan personally contributed $125,000. Another $15,000 came from the Ave Maria List Membership Organization. Ave Maria List expenditures included more than $173,098 for production and distribution of newspaper ads, mail and e-mail, as well as $25,000 to Monaghan as repayment on a loan.

The Federal Election Commission reports that the Ave Maria PAC's receipts for the 2003-2004 election cycle totaled $259,263. Monaghan and his wife, Marjorie, together contributed a total of $20,000 to the PAC during that cycle, the maximum allowed to two individuals as contributions to political action committees over two years.

In 2004 the Ave Maria PAC distributed $15,000 to the successful campaign of Republican Mel Martinez, George W. Bush's former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who became a U.S. Senator from Florida.

The Ave Maria PAC also gave nearly $69,000 to the 2004 campaign of John Thune, the South Dakota Republican challenger who unseated Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. During the campaign Thune criticized Daschle -- who is a Roman Catholic -- for being ambiguous on the abortion issue. "He wants to be pro-choice for the people who are pro-choice," Thune said, "then he describes himself to the voters as anti-abortion. That's the disturbing pattern with Daschle."

Although Monaghan's PACs are now defunct, their political influence is not. In fact, the mission of Ave Maria's political action arms has been taken up by a new political action committee, Fidelis. It is being run by Monaghan alumnae  Joseph Cella and Brian Burch. Cella was the Executive Director for the Ave Maria List PAC while Burch directed fundraising and public relations the Thomas More Law Center. The PAC's current financial situation is at best, underwhelming.  But this lack of activity may due more to calculation than disillusionment by the Catholic Right.

One hallmark of Monaghan's PACs was to only inject campaign contributions and independent expenditures in close races. 2006 is currently shaping up to be a bad year for the Religious Right. Between disillusionment with the GOP as well as revelations by David Kuo, injecting money into U.S. Senate races such as the one in Pennsylvania where Democrat Bob Casey Jr. appears to have a double-digit lead would simply be a waste of assets that would be best put aside for 2008. It is conceivable that in a more agreeable political climate, Cella and Burch will crack open their Roledexes from the Ave Maria days and ask past contributors to give for the same cause. Fidelis as well as Cell and Burch are worth watching.

                                                          ***

Now that traditionalist, orthodox Catholics such as Monaghan seem to be asserting their power and influence within the Vatican, many of them like to say, "the cafeteria is closed." Such a statement is a deliberate pejorative description of progressive Catholics who don't just blindly obey every papal utterance. Instead such Catholics see the Gospels as a journey where one must constantly have an open mind, constantly trying to rediscover their true meaning. And while claiming that non-Catholics should "mind their own business," they arrogantly meddle in the affairs of other denominations.

But while the cafeteria may be closed, the smorgasbord for wealthier, ultra-orthodox Catholics is wide open. Hypocrites such as Tom Monaghan have been dishing out pizza-dough to advance the cause of Catholics who pick and choose what they choose to believe on a scale much grander than any mainstream American Monaghan and many of his fellow Ave Maria List speak of Catholic virtue while helping to elect men such as George W, Bush, Rick Santorum and George Allen who, in turn, gut the rights of less wealthy Catholics who often need the strength of a labor union to balance their bargaining power with a corporate employer. In doing so, a man such as Thomas Monaghan selectively ignores to his own unrestrained self-interest the lessons of both distributive justice as well as the pro-labor intent of the Bishops' Program for Social Reconstruction.

In the final analysis, Thomas Monaghan believes in dependence, not freedom. His choice of political candidates share a common theme: authority comes from above, not from within. Those less powerful employee must work at the whim of whatever compensation the more powerful employer wishes to grant. Similarly, morality is dispensed from above, with no room for alternate ideas or different understandings of "the truth." In either case, there is little opportunity for self-development.

But worst of all, self-appointed moralists such as Tom Monaghan rail at those of us who respect value pluralism, deriding those of us who just want to practice our respective beliefs without forcing others to abide by what we may see as "the truth." And to that end, those of us who do not share his ultra-orthodox, dependent vision for society don't want the government to act as the enforcer of any particular religious faith--including our own.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank Cocozzelli :  Part One  Part Two  Part Three   Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve  

Notes  
(i)   Senator Martinez is also the President of the Orlando chapter of Legatus.




Display:
If any one race this year proves that for those on the Ave Maria List that they are more concerned with preserving their superfluous wealth and not faith, just look at this year's U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania.

Almost to the man these folks are backing as well as funding incumbent Rick Santorum's campaign. That is a rather strange result when the following factors are considered:
1)    Both candidates oppose abortion and embryonic stem cell research;
2)    Santorum has accepted over a hundred thousand dollars from tobacco interests;
3)    Santorum has constantly voted for legislation and federal judges who gut unions and workers' rights--something that adversely affects working and middle-class Catholics;
4)    Bob Casey, Jr., Santorum's Democratic opponent, economics are more in line with the Catholic Church's teachings on distributive justice and Rerum Novarum.
5)    Santorum, not Casey supported the Iraqi intervention---something the Vatican strongly opposed; and
6)    In sum, it is Casey, not Santorum who's platform falls more closely reflects Church teachings

And that's why with these holy-rollers it's primarily about the money.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Oct 22, 2006 at 10:00:13 AM EST


Frank-

Thanks again!

Kathy

by khughes1963 on Sun Oct 22, 2006 at 10:17:00 PM EST

One of the things I enjoy most about posting this column is seeing your very kind comments every week. Knowing that the message is getting through to at least one good person like you makes it all worth it.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Oct 23, 2006 at 06:57:59 AM EST
Parent


Thank you for this illuminating, troubling series.  As a former Catholic I'm saddened, but not really surprised.

After all, it makes sense for a wealthy tradionalist Catholic to do what Tom Monaghan has done.  That's what the Catholic structure is all about: an elite few making decisions for the voiceless, dependent many.  To an extent, that's what it means to be Catholic.  And that won't change.  

 

 

 



by mkerby on Mon Oct 23, 2006 at 10:52:19 AM EST
First of all, thank you for reading and leaving such a thoughtful comment.

As for your belief "That's what the Catholic structure is all about: an elite few making decisions for the voiceless, dependent many.  To an extent, that's what it means to be Catholic.  And that won't change..." while I agree that's what it is about for now, it doesn't have to be that way.  I for one (and I'm certain Kathy Hughes is another) will stay in the Church and fight these agents of oppression.

And there are many courageous agents of positive change. There is Cardinal Walter Kasper, Sister Joan Chittister and Fr. Charles Curran. If we leave instead of staying to fight the good fight, we lose. And progressives and moderates leaving the Catholic Church is exactly what these ultra-orthodox folks want.

Let's not make their job any easier.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Oct 23, 2006 at 01:17:11 PM EST
Parent

For me, remaining in the Catholic Church was simply not an option.  I live in a small Texas town where the nearest Catholic church is too far to visit even monthly.  We can't afford to move.  Since I wanted my children to be exposed to church services more often than once a year or so, I had to find a local church.

When I was a Catholic my perception was that no layperson had the power to change anything in the church.  Unless, of course, the layperson were male and sufficiently well-heeled to attract the attention of a bishop.  That said, I still hope that people like you and Kathy Hughes will prove me wrong.



by mkerby on Thu Oct 26, 2006 at 06:29:08 PM EST
Parent




WWW Talk To Action


Real Religious Liberty is Not Oppression
This is a reposting of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation -- FC Real Religious Liberty is not Oppression FREDERICK CLARKSON Senior......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Houston Mayor Ignites Fervor of Religious Right
The best take on Houston Mayor Annise Parker vs. the churches in her city is the story written by Marv Knox in the Baptist......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Four Stories
LGBTQ Nation   In my first bi-weekly column on religious liberty, I discuss how  "Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Christian Right Voter Mobilization -- The Season Finale
One of the secrets of the success of the Christian Right over the years has been that opponents have taken the movement with insufficient......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Sins Of Omission: When Religious Right Leaders Speak, The Whole Truth Is Often Left Behind
When an individual doesn't feel like being absolutely truthful, there are a couple of things he or she can do. One is to simply......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bishop Finn Under Vatican Investigation
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
"The $1-Billion-a-Year [Religious] Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven't Heard Of"
In honor of the 2014 incarnation of the event known as The Gathering, I've given an interview with Jay Michaelson, writing for the Daily......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
(Un)Fantastic Five: A Remembrance Of Values Voter Summits Past
The Religious Right's annual "Values Voter Summit" (VVS) takes place this weekend. Americans United staffers Simon Brown, Sarah Jones and I will be there.......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
The Christian Right's Voter Mobilization Strategy for 2014
My latest post at Political Research Associates is about how this weekend's Values Voter Summit fits into the Christian Right's wider electoral strategy for......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
NYT's David Brooks to Speak at Antigay Luncheon of Billionaires Who Fund Racist Preacher
Recently, government-encouraged outbreaks of mob violence against LGBT persons in countries from Uganda to Russia, and draconian new anti-gay legislation in those countries too,......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
D'Souza's Downfall: Religious Right Favorite Sentenced For Campaign Donation Violations
Yesterday conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza was sentenced to five years of probation and a term of community service for violating federal campaign laws. He......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Short Takes -- Taking Action Edition
Banned Books Week is being celebrated this year from Sept. 21-27.  Yes its time for the annual celebration of the Freedom to Read, sponsored......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Archbishop Schnurr Throws Cold Water on the Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge has been an outstanding success in raising both awareness and research money needed to find a cure for Amyotrophic lateral......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
The Secret Antigay U.S. Money Behind The WCF and the Global Evangelical War on LGBT Rights
[note to readers: this is an excerpt from my first installment in a Twocare.org/Center Against Religious Extremism series that will examine extensive ties -......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Race as Religion
Reading Edith Beer's book, The Nazi Officer's Wife, I ran across an interesting account of her fake marriage license.  She married a Nazi officer......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.