Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Financially Bad Karma Of Hypocrisy And Deception

Ironic divorce
Protector of traditional marriage Doug Manchester leaving wife of 43 years
Eric Wolff --San Diego CityBeat--8/11/09

In July 2008, hotelier and developer Doug Manchester donated $125,000 to help gather signatures for a proposition that would ban same-sex marriage in California. The early money was crucial to getting the initiative—which ultimately passed—on the ballot. At the time, he told The New York Times that he made the donation because of “my Catholic faith and longtime affiliation with the Catholic Church,” which preferred that marriage remain between a man and a woman. Indeed, the Catholic Church has vehemently opposed gay marriage. Then again, it’s also not too keen on divorce. (It is big on accepting money from any hypocrite in a 'good cause'.)

On Oct. 9, 2008, Manchester ended 43 years, eight months and nine days of marriage to Elizabeth Manchester by moving out of their La Jolla abode. The couple spent the next several months trying to reach a quiet settlement on how best to distribute millions of dollars in cash and other assets. In July, those talks totally broke down, and Doug started playing financial hardball with Elizabeth, allegedly draining the couple’s shared accounts and stealing her mail. On Aug. 6, Elizabeth filed a petition for redress in family court. All of the information in this story comes from those petitions. CityBeat contacted attorneys for both parties, but neither returned calls by press time.

The court records say Doug pushed very hard for a speedy divorce agreement after he moved out, but Elizabeth would have none of it. She insisted on hiring lawyers and forensic accountants to fully assess Doug’s assets. Doug controls the Grand Del Mar Resort, the Manchester Hyatt, the Torrey Executive Center and the Manchester Financial Building. He also has $56.9 million divided among nine bank accounts, though the papers make clear that her accountants believe there’s far more holdings to be assessed. Elizabeth’s petition alleges that Doug has withheld some of the documents needed to make a full accounting. As negotiations dragged on, Doug apparently became impatient.

In March, Doug told Elizabeth he’d no longer maintain the bank account the two shared to pay her expenses, and that she should submit her bills to his office. She followed this procedure, but was surprised to get a call from AT&T saying her bill was past due.

“Doug began dragging his feet on paying my expenses,” she writes, “refusing to pay certain expenses until I accepted his demands regarding our property division. I believe Doug did this to squeeze me financially.” (No, not the great protector of traditional marriage. He must not have meant to let her bills go unpaid. He wasn't trying to squeeze her.)

She also alleges that Doug received an $8.2-million tax refund check from the IRS that was made out to both of them, and that Doug deposited the money and refused to split it with her. She has requested a copy of the check to see if someone forged her name to the endorsement, as is usually required to deposit a check made out to two people. (No, Doug would never embezzle any money from his cherished wife. Nice refund check though.)

On July 25, Doug ran out of patience. He sent an “angry e-mail” to Elizabeth that said he “wish[es] to pursue all rights to protect all of [his] separate property and wish[es] also to litigate vigorously any and all spousal support.” (Brackets quoted from the petition).

That day, Doug wired $100,000 out of the ac-count the couple shared, leaving a $17,000 balance. Elizabeth argues in her petition that the account balance will be negative when outstanding checks come due. She also learned that day that Doug had spent the previous six months taking $9.3 million out of their joint bank accounts and putting it into his separate account. (Poor Doug must have some very interesting legal advice. California is a common asset state, but maybe Doug feels discriminated against by this California law protecting traditional marriage, and is pretending he makes his money in some other state.)

Elizabeth writes that she believes all of these tactics—the mail, the financial restrictions, submitting bills to Doug’s office—are attempts to “squeeze” her.
“Respondent was attempting to compel me to settle on his terms by impeding my access to funds for living expenses,” she writes in her petition. (Hmmm, seems poor Elizabeth wasn't being 'complimentary' enough.)

On the weekend of July 30, Elizabeth was at their house in Sun Valley, Utah—one of six vacation residences the couple owns together. She alleges that Doug went into the La Jolla house, which he had not lived in for months, and took several pieces of mail belonging to her, including a letter from her attorneys at the law firm of Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek. The letter included a detailed invoice of what the firm had done for her and discussed a strategy for her case. An attorney with Hervey and Wood, representing Doug, eventually returned the letter saying Doug “had opened it by mistake.” (There, poor Doug admits he's doing all of this by mistake.)

Elizabeth petitioned the court to guarantee that she have sole use of the La Jolla residence, that he return the mail (which was returned) and that he restore the $100,000 so she can meet her monthly expenses of $131,625. These include nearly $20,000 on clothing and jewelry, $7,000 in electric bills, $1,700 in groceries, $4,901 in household supplies, tuition at three private schools for some of the couple’s 10 grand children, $7,500 in salary for the full-time groundskeeper and housekeeper, $1,200 in membership dues for the La Jolla Country Club and money toward the hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel expenses the couple was accustomed to spending.


I admit, it's hard for me to identify with this kind of financial life style. 'Poor' indeed, but I can identify with hard ball divorce tactics.

It's also hard for me to identify with Doug the uber Catholic, since I was taught by uppity LCWR nuns that lying, cheating, stealing, hypocrisy, and divorce were not part of the Catholic 'life style'. Maybe the sisters really were as wrong and heretical, as the rich uber Catholic right insists.

So much for traditional Catholic marriage and it's mostly male uber right Catholic supporters. Traditional marriage is great when it works for you, but no so great when it, and all the laws supporting it, threaten your finances.

I also came across another ironic story. Focus On The Family is selling it's ex-gay therapy program to Exodus International. From the Minnesota Independent:

Focus on the Family, James Dobson’s anti-LGBT empire and the largest organization in the religious right, announced earlier this week that it would be selling off its ex-gay therapy program called “Love Won Out.” The organization says it’s part of an effort to downsize in the wake of record profit losses of nearly $6 million. The news comes days after the nation’s largest psychological organization released a report condemning ex-gay therapies.

“Right now we’re facing a serious budget shortfall that threatens our ability to reach out to parents, families and married couples who count on our help,” said Jim Daly, Focus’ CEO in a letter to 800,000 members. “Income is down nearly $6 million from what we expected and planned for this year. I want to assure you that we’re committed to good stewardship AND living within our means, just as so many families are today.”

Maybe Focus On The Family could fix their bottom line by focusing on the Manchester's, who seem to need some help. It seems changing gays was not the profit cash cow they thought it would be, even though it's mission name is appealing to Exodus International. Maybe saving the marriages of their rich supporters will prove to be even more lucrative, if about as successful as Love Won Out---not very.
Unless that is, success is determined by how many buy into what your are selling, as opposed to whether it actually works. If that's the success criteria, then Exodus International is successful, even if, like with Doug Manchester, love doesn't win out.


  1. Poor Doug, "he told The New York Times that he made the donation because of “my Catholic faith and longtime affiliation with the Catholic Church,” ..... all the good that his longtime affiliation with the Catholic Church did for this guy.... Social justice?.... What's that? We don't need to worry about social justice..... just throw the old bag into the street and keep all your millions to yourself and your homophobic causes...

    When the lawyers get involved and it gets real ugly like this example of the Manchester family, the only one's who make out with the money are the lawyers. Doug should get his act together and work something out that his wife can agree with. Fat chance that will happen...

    Doug will use the excuse that he is protecting himself. He hasn't protected his own marriage from going down the crapper.... he's one of those people that wants to save others.... what a guy!!!

    Good thing Mrs. Manchester has a good lawyer, but some unscrupulous lawyers have a way of dragging things out and creating such dramas. It is very abusive for the woman to be in this predicament. It is very sad to hear this crap still going on.... in a Catholic family.

  2. Elizabeth Manchester is at least getting good legal advice, and has the sense to take it. There was the rather poor example of the Dan & Betty Broderick divorce in 1986, which ultimately ended with Betty killing her ex-husband Dan and his new wife Linda.

  3. I can't wait for the details of the divorce to surface. His meetings with the bishop in Del Mar as well as sleeping with his grandaughters 23yo bridesmaid on her wedding day, I think most will find interesting. His money would have been better spent working on his own un-traditional marriage.