You Can't Buy This Type Of Bad Publicity!


The administration of Ave Maria, I assume in an attempt to draw huge public attention to a critic, has banned blogger Marielena Montesino de Stuart from most of the campus.

Two days after she asked questions at a town government meeting, Marielena Montesino de Stuart was told by a university spokesman she was not allowed on university property or to attend a press conference announcing a $4 million donation from New York billionaire Tom Golisano. When she tried to go anyway, the university had Collier County Sheriff’s deputies waiting to say that they would arrest her if she persisted.

Here is Ms. Montesino de Stuart’s blog.  I have no opinion one way or another as to the criticisms that she has lobbed at Ave Maria, but there is a technical legal term for giving a critic the spotlight:  Uber stupidity.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Sorry, I must say you don’t describe this accurately. You say “two days after she asked questions at a meeting …” I guess you weren’t there. Listen to the audio file on the website maintained by the Ave Maria Stewardship Committee, and find out yourself how Ms. Stuart behaved at the meeting you reference. She asked the same question six times after it was answered the first. She insulted the committee. She interrupted, wouldn’t yield the floor, and had to be repeatedly reminded not to stray from the agenda. She argued with other residents to the extent that finally, the committee had to call a five minute recess.

    Yeah, you’re right it’s a shame the University gave her a chance to grab the spotlight by not allowing her to the press conference, but, to be fair, the alternative wouldn’t have been pretty either. That press conference was being held to announce a $4 million gift and to thank the donor.

    Ms. Stuart, a woman of, let us say, questionable temperament, made it no secret that she was heading over with plans to humiliate the donor. Letting her in wouldn’t have been pretty either. I think it would have truly irritated the donor, who might reasonably expect the event to be a pleasant one, since he was, after all, funding a gym.

    It was a lose/lose situation either way for the University. Yes, it’s possible that a really skilled public relations person (or someone experienced in dealing with town cranks) could have handled it more adroitly. But I disagree that it was a case of stupidity.

  2. It was stupidity on stilts Monty. Banning the blogger from virtually all the campus merely attracted a lot of attention to the points that she was trying to make. Having security simply keep her out of meetings that the administration at Ave Maria didn’t want her to attend would have served the same purpose and attracted a lot less bad publicity.

  3. Well, there you have a point, Donald. I do think barring her from the meeting served its purpose by not allowing her to turn the event into the Marielena Show, which she likes to do. That wasn’t stupidity on stilts.

    But banning her from the campus did work against the University and served no purpose, although I will note we both speak from hindsight, when it’s pretty easy to see clearly. She would have ginned up bad publicity anyway, but I agree that being banned from campus made it worse.

  4. The Wanderer Retracts “False Statements” About Ave Maria


    The editor of The Wanderer has publicly retracted “false statements” that were published in the weekly newspaper about the town of Ave Maria and Ave Maria University.

    In a statement titled “Retraction and Correction,” published in the April 29 edition of The Wanderer, Editor Alphonse J. Matt Jr. apologized for six different errors in fact that appeared in stories published in August, 2009, and January, 2010. Both stories were written by Ave Maria town resident Marielena Montesino de Stuart.

  5. Les Femmes-The Truth Blog
    Wednesday, June 16, 2010
    Ave Maria Town, Jackson Labs, and The Wanderer..Oh My!
    Ever since I wrote the article about my concerns over The Wanderer, I have been eagerly reading my weekly paper to see if they will cover the scandal of Jackson Labs locating at Ave Maria Town. And it truly is a scandal to see this anti-life organization with deep roots in eugenics welcomed by Tom Monaghan and Ave Maria University. If you don’t think that’s what’s happening you need to read about Jackson Labs and realize exactly how deeply disturbing Monaghan’s complicity in providing the land to build their facility is. Monaghan claims absolution because the National Catholic Bioethics Center provided cover, but that organization is not without controversy.

    Randy Engel has a two part article about this mess:
    Part I – Eugenics Meets the Pizza King – Ave Maria in the Shadow of Auschwitz

    Part II – Ave Maria, Jackson Laboratory and Mass Eugenic Killing
    And Randy is not the only one talking about the scandal. FUMARE has an article questioning it that links to a National Catholic Register article. The American Papist also addressed the issue in early June.

    All of these sources are asking what is going on? And why? What happened to the idea of the city on a hill where Catholics could locate in confidence that their values would be supported. What will happen to the integrity of the town when one of the biggest employers for miles around is an anti-life organization whose entire history is steeped in the culture of death? It looks like a prescription for the perfect storm of disunity. Culture of life move over and make room for the culture of death. It reminds me of the years when St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, VA peacefully coexisted with the abortion mill next door. All they did was build a higher fence and sing a little louder and harrass pro-lifers who stood on their property to counsel women and offer alternatives. The devil loves that kind of setup!

    One voice has been surprisingly silent while the confrontation over Ave Maria welcoming Jackson Labs builds — and it’s a voice that calls itself “Witness for the Truth.” That, of course, is The Wanderer. I’ve been watching for six weeks to see if an article or a column would mention this abomination. There hasn’t been a single solitary word about the Ave Maria scandal, only a puff piece by Jeffrey Tucker (two months old) praising a conference on sacred music held at Ave Maria. Is the fix in?

    A newspaper can tell you just as much by what it doesn’t print as what it does. The pro-life movement has known that for years and the tea party movement discovered it more recently. The mainstream media ignores those who don’t represent their liberal mindset.

    So does The Wanderer’s silence on the buddy-buddy relationship between Ave Maria and Jackson labs reflect a new mindset where Ave Maria and Tom Monaghan are above criticism? I fear the next thing in The Wanderer’s pages will be a full-page ad promoting the university. Or perhaps I and other subscribers will get slick packages from Ave Marie touting their orthodoxy.

    Until Jackson Labs is run out of Ave Maria Town on the proverbial rail, no orthodox Catholic can believe that Tom Monaghan cares more about the faith than about money. He has given a lot of it away to good causes and that’s great. But a drop of poison can ruin a gallon of water. Jackson Labs will poison Ave Maria Town beyond recovery. Why aren’t the “witnesses for the truth” at The Wanderer shouting that from the housetops?

    Read more:

    Jackson Labs Outlines Vision for Collier County Project
    Business Plan Released
    Latest Update on JAX-Florida
    Posted by Mary Ann at 3:53 PM
    Labels: Ave Maria Town, Jackson Labs, The Wanderer and Tom Monaghan, Tom Monaghan
    Anonymous said…
    Does AM resident Marielena de Stuart, who was threatened with arrest if she steps foot on AM property, no longer write for The Wanderer? Seems she would be the one to report Jackson Labs, no?

    June 16, 2010 4:27 PM
    Anonymous said…
    I did find the following: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2532576/posts

    June 16, 2010 4:30 PM
    Mary Ann said…
    I haven’t seen any more articles by Marielena de Stuart since The Wanderer ran their retraction.

    June 16, 2010 5:30 PM
    Marielena Montesino de Stuart said…
    My articles opposing The Jackson Lab can be found at http://www.TheRomanCatholicWorld.com as well as in Spero News and Daily Estimate.

    Marielena Montesino de Stuart

    June 17, 2010 11:25 AM
    Anonymous said…
    Does The Wanderer feel threatened if they ran more of these stories?

    June 17, 2010 11:51 AM
    Mary Ann said…
    I think one can assume The Wanderer was threatened with a lawsuit by Tom Monaghan. I also think it’s pretty clear that the original articles were on target since well-known Catholic lawyer Charlie Rice wrote an article saying they were and that Mrs. de Stuart had actually understated her case.

    So if the articles were accurate and The Wanderer backed off what’s the conclusion? I think there are several possibilities. First, they probably wanted to avoid a nuisance lawsuit. It costs a lot of money even if you win and The Wanderer is in financial difficulty. The second possibility is one I hate to even think of: That Monaghan suggested working together in a beneficial relationship. That’s why I’m watching to see what happens.

    Let’s recap: First The Wanderer publishes a correction of articles that were accurate which required shoving the writer under the bus. 2.) Then they publish a two-month old puff piece on Ave Maria. 3.) Then they ignore a HUGE negtive story about the relationship between Ave Maria and Jackson Labs. It is just the kind of story The Wanderer SHOULD run and has in the past.

    What’s 4? A full page ad for the university or selling Ave Maria the use of The Wanderer’s mailing list?

    I hope not. By ignoring the Jackson Lab controversy The Wanderer has broadened the debate to include their integrity.

    June 17, 2010 2:04 PM
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  6. Has a venerable Catholic institution been compromised by wealth?
    Thursday, May 06, 2010By Mary Ann Kreitzer

    I received my Wanderer newspaper in the mail yesterday, as always a week late thanks to the postal service that discriminates against small publications. As usual I gave it a quick scan to see what the main issues are. When I got to the back page the piece that particularly drew my attention was the “retraction and correction” related to recent articles on Tom Monaghan and Ave Maria University and town. I read all the articles and was disappointed that the paper was caving in the face of Monaghan’s pressure. The retraction on its face is simply not credible.

    Since the very first controversy at Ave Maria over the Monaghan-designed monstrosity of a church, I’ve followed the events at the school closely. My husband and I were thrilled to hear of a new Catholic college and town and joined the “founders club” early on with regular contributions. However, we withdrew in the light of growing problems over, not only the design of the church, but the draconian actions taken against the Ave Maria Law School in Ann Arbor MI.

    We were appalled at the forced move to Florida including the removal of Dr. Charles Rice from the governing board and the suspension of three law professor who sued the president of the law school, Dean Bernard Dobranski, and Tom Monaghan. The professors subsequently won a settlement including full reinstatement and an undisclosed financial award. But a promising institution that had a 100% pass rate for the Michigan Bar Exam in 2004 and was accredited in the shortest time possible, ranked at the bottom in the 2010 U.S. News and World Report review of law schools.

    The Wanderer’s series of articles by Marielena Montesino de Stuart on the situation in Ave Maria were very disturbing, but subsequent events indicate the criticism of Monaghan and University president, Nicholas Healy, are thoroughly justified. Naming the sports center after billionaire Tom Golisano with his consistent funding of pro-abortion politicians was shocking. Galisano gave a million dollars to the Obama extravaganza democrat convention, consistently supports dozens of NARAL-backed politicians, and most recently promised to support publicly pro-abortion Charlie Crist after he fled the Republican party to run as an independent. These are the actions of a man who claims he is pro-life?

    With regard to the problem of Ave Maria’s town charter that allows abortion, what is there to retract? No less an authority than constitutional scholar Charles Rice wrote an article in The Wanderer in the February 18th edition titled The Controversy Behind Monaghan’s Ave Maria “Scheme”. Professor Rice affirmed all the documentation from the previous article and concluded:

    A curious question arises from the conclusion that the absolute prohibition of abortion in the first sentence of Section 6.5(V) is unconstitutional and void. If that prohibition is void, all that could possibly be left of Section 6.5(V) is the restriction on promotion, counseling and referrals. But if “promotion” of abortion is not counseling or referral, what is it? Does it include the performance of abortions? Can you promote abortion by performing abortions? The drafters of Section 6.5(V) drew a distinction between performance and promotion of abortion. But how can you perform abortions without promoting abortion? Promotion, unlike counseling and referrals, is a vague term and should not have been used in that context. If the absolute prohibition of abortion is void and if promotion of abortion can include performance of abortions, Mrs. Marielena Montesino de Stuart’s criticism has merit.

    In any event, Mrs. Montesino de Stuart understated her case. Will Ave Maria Town be required to permit the performance of some abortions? Yes, if, as seems clear, Ave Maria is subject to the Fourteenth Amendment under the criteria of Marsh v. Alabama.

    The underlying problem here is that the architects of the Ave Maria scheme undertook to create a town and exempt it from the constitutional restrictions that apply to state and local governments and to private persons assuming public functions by the operation of such a town. The incoherence of that course legally means that it will apparently be up to the abortionists to decide whether some abortions will be performed in Ave Maria Town.

    Any claim to the contrary is, in my opinion, a misrepresentation.

    Since Dr. Rice wrote this, Ave Maria has stepped into another morass (Is it because they’re located in a swamp?) over Monaghan turning over a section of land so that eugenics pioneer Jackson Labs can locate in Ave Maria Town. In view of all these problems with Ave Maria and the obvious accuracy of the articles illustrated by the analysis of a constitutional scholar, exactly what is really going on at The Wanderer and why did they print a retraction (with a face-saving refusal to concur on one issue)?

    Here’s my educated guess. First, everybody knows The Wanderer is in financial trouble. It’s mentioned in almost every issue. Second, Tom Monaghan has plenty of money to engage in a frivolous lawsuit which the paper can ill afford and he has shown himself perfectly willing in the past to go after those who disagree with him (Remember the professors at the law school in Ann Arbor?). Third, and this pains me to consider, Monaghan can “help” The Wanderer with its difficulties. All it takes is throwing a troublesome journalist under the bus and retracting a few facts that are true, but unpleasant for Monaghan.

    If my third supposition is true, you will never see another critical item about Tom Monaghan and Ave Maria appear in The Wanderer’s pages. You may even see full page ads for Ave Maria gracing the back page. And anyone who thinks Monaghan would buy an ad from a critic needs a reality check.

    The Wanderer has been described as a “witness to the truth,” a well deserved accolade. But if the paper caved to Monaghan over money, that witness is in mortal jeopardy: a newspaper that has been fearless in its reporting for over 100 years has sold its soul. It’s integrity will have been bought by a pragmatist who, while paying lip service to the faith, is willing to compromise Catholic values to get what he wants. Is Ave Maria really about the Blessed Mother and the promotion of the faith or is it the legacy of a man building a shrine to himself? Pray for Tom Monaghan and all those he is willing to injure to reach his goals. The list is growing. Pray especially that this is not the death knell of The Wanderer. I love the paper and have myself written articles for it. The mourning will indeed be great if the great witness to the truth becomes one more jockey in Tom Monaghan’s stable.

    Mary Ann Kreitzer is a founder of the Catholic Media Coalition. She blogs at Les Femmes-The Truth.

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