COPIA officials at the Napa, California museum are insisting that it is “misinformation” to say it has received millions of dollars in public funding; they admit to receiving only a $50,000 grant.  Indeed, the Catholic League has been accused of “lying” about the money.  The league’s protest is directed at a display of figurines that show the pope and nuns defecating and has created quite a furor.  In another development, Robert Mondavi, the museum’s largest private benefactor and chairman of its board of trustees, has entered the fray.

On the January 7 “Tom Leykis Show,” a nationally syndicated radio show that originates in L.A., COPIA spokeswoman Holly Krassner accused Catholic League spokesman Patrick Scully of “lying” when he asserted that the museum has benefited from millions of dollars of public funds.  Moreover, several newspapers printed the museum’s charge that the league is spreading “misinformation” about its funding.

Nancy Light, Mondavi’s VP for public relations, is saying that while Mondavi was not involved in the selection process, “The [Mondavi] family supports COPIA’s commitment, as an artistic institution, to presenting the creations of its contributing artists without censorship.”

Catholic League president William Donohue commented as follows:

“According to Napa Sentinel reporter Harry V. Martin, ‘A $70 million loan was negotiated by the State of California, and which even the Napa Valley Register confirms in its January 5 article.’  And this doesn’t count millions in local public funding.  So who’s lying?

“As for Mondavi, I have personally defended him for a week, saying he no doubt wasn’t involved.  However, now that he is, he’ll have to do better than say he opposes censorship.  So do we which is why we never asked for the offending items to be removed.  But we do want to know whether he personally approves of his museum’s defecating pope and nuns.”

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