Who Is Patrick T. Gillen? (And Why Should Anyone Care?)
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Jul 05, 2008 at 09:34:34 AM EST
The Catholic Right, Part Sixty-two
In last week's post I discussed how the Catholic Right organization Fidelis may be possibly violating IRS proscriptions against electioneering by non-profit, tax-exempt organizations. This week we take a closer look at one of its principle figures -- attorney Patrick T. Gillen. Although not exactly a household name, Gillen has been in the middle of many of the religious right's biggest court battles in recent years.
A Googling of Gillen reveals, among other things, that he is a visiting faculty member at Ave Maria Law School as well as the former chief litigator for the Thomas More Law Center.

As I wrote previously of TMLC:

TMLC makes no bones that its members are engaged in a culture war against the supposedly ungodly:

Our ministry was inspired by the recognition that the issues of the cultural war being waged across America, issues such as abortion, pornography, school prayer, and the removal of the Ten Commandments from municipal and school buildings, are not being decided by elected legislatures, but by the courts.

And as cultural warrior institution, it clearly identifies whom it sees as the enemy:

These court decisions, largely insulated from the democratic process, have been inordinately influenced by legal advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which seek to systematically subvert the religious and moral foundations of our nation. Recent examples of the federal courts' pivotal role in the cultural war are the cases of Stenberg v. Carhart in which the U.S. Supreme Court held Nebraska's ban on partial birth abortion unconstitutional, in effect nullifying similar bans in 30 other states and Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe which prohibited students from leading stadium crowds in prayer before high school football games.

Quite a self-introduction.

And Tom Monaghan is the man behind the mission.

Without Monaghan, there would be no TMLC. As an article linked on the center's web site states:

Founded six years ago with seed money from conservative Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, the Thomas More Law Center is named after the patron saint of lawyers...

Monaghan, who founded Domino's Pizza, footed the law center's operating costs for a number of years, shelling out as much as $1.5 million annually. Now the firm operates on its own at Domino's Farms, supported by 50,000 donors, Thompson said.

Beyond this initial donation, between 2001 and 2004 Monaghan's Ave Maria Foundation provided an additional $4,099,712.00. To say that Monaghan has a stake in TMLC's success would be an understatement.

It was in that role of TMLC Chief litigator that Gillen defended the Dover School Board's intelligent design curriculum in Kitzmiller.  (See also this background post on the case.)

Gillen and TMLC have also participated in court actions seeking the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places. In 2006 TMLC, with Gillen in the lead, challenged Michigan State University's recognition of same sex unions for the purpose of providing benefits to MSU-recognized same-sex domestic partners (the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed the case in July 2007).

So, then why does all this matter?

Well for starters, Gillen now runs Fidelis's Center for Law and Policy, a  501(c)3 not-for-profit -- which given Gillen's his hitory, probably means he will turn up again in one or more of the courtroom dramas staged by the religoius right in the legal arena of the culture wars.

But there are some nagging oddities about Gillen's operation too. At the Fidelis web site there is no separate portal for their Center for Law and Policy. In fact, neither Gillen nor anyone else is mentioned.

Interestingly too, Gillen's law office and the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy share the same office location and phone number.  All of the organizations operating under the Fidelis label also appear to share the same post office box mailing address. And again, as I observed in Part Sixty, there is still no separate donation capability for its PAC which is organized pursuant to IRS Section 501(c)(4) as is Fidelis the umbrella organization.

Such ambiguities leave the objective observer baffled. Fidelis may or may not be improperly commingling funds in violation of IRS provisions. With four agencies, including their  political action committee operating under the same umbrella, and the lack of financial transparency of the web site  more questions are raised than answered.

Meanwhile, these shell organizations do not seem to be getting a lot of use. It remains to be seen whether that will change.

The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank L. Cocozzelli :

Part One  Part Two  Part Three  Part Four  Part Five  Part Six   Intermezzo   Part Eight   Part Nine  Part Ten   Part Eleven   Part Twelve   Part Thirteen   Part Fourteen   Second Intermezzo   Part Sixteen   Part Seventeen   Part Eighteen   Part Eighteen   Part Nineteen   Part Twenty   Part Twenty-one   Part Twenty-two   Part Twenty-three   Part Twenty-four   Part Twenty-five   Part Twenty-six   Part Twenty-seven   Part Twenty-eight   Part Twenty-nine   Part Thirty   Part Thirty-one   Part Thirty-two   Part Thirty-three   Part Thirty-four   Part Thirty-five   Part Thirty-six   Part Thirty-seven   Part Thirty-eight   Part Thirty-nine   Part Forty   Part Forty-one   Part Forty-two   Part Forty-three   Part Forty-four   Part Forty-five   Part Forty-six   Part Forty-seven   Part Forty-eight   Part Forty-nine   Part Fifty   Part Fifty-one   Part Fifty-two   Part Fifty-three   Part Fifty-four   Part Fifty-five   Part Fifty-six   Part Fifty-seven   Part Fifty-eight   Part Fifty-nine   Part Sixty   Part Sixty-one

Beyond his own courtroom activities, Gillen is instrumental in training young Catholic Right attorneys in the art of tearing down the wall that separates church and state. At Ave Maria Law School he is preparing future judges and elected officials to view secular law through the prism of ultra-orthodox Catholic morality.

He bears watching.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Jul 05, 2008 at 09:36:43 AM EST

I hadn't heard of Gillen, but we should keep an eye on him. There is a fairly good blog about Tom Monaghan's misadventures in the education and town-building enterprises at http://avewatch.com/.
Monaghan has managed to tank his law school, get half the faculty at Ave Maria Law School in Michigan against him over his plans to relocate the law school to Florida, and put the law school's accreditation at risk. Monaghan is too much of a control freak to let his enterprises succeed.

Another person associated with the TMLC is Thomas M. Doran. Doran sometimes writes conservative LTEs to the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press.

by khughes1963 on Sat Jul 05, 2008 at 08:10:01 PM EST

Thanks for letting us know about the AveWatch web site!

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Jul 06, 2008 at 08:55:44 AM EST

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