Donald Trump is wrong to sue former Miss Pennsylvania

Donald Trump isn't giving a thumbs-up to former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images
Donald Trump isn't giving a thumbs-up to former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images
Posted: June 08, 2012

Uh-oh. There's trouble in beauty-pageant land.

Not only has the former title-holder for Miss Pennsylvania USA, Sheena Monnin, turned in her rhinestone tiara, saying the just-completed Miss USA pageant was rigged, calling it "fraudulent" and "trashy," but her first runner-up won't take over for her.

Valerie Compeggie, 26, of Pittsburgh, has — gasp — declined to do what first runner-ups are traditionally expected to do: complete what's left of the winner's reign. Not out of solidarity with Monnin, of course, or because of some moral qualms. Nope, she took a pass because doing so would disqualify her from ever competing for the title of Miss USA.

With such craven opportunism on display — is it really any surprise that Donald Trump is squarely in the middle of this?

Indeed, Trump — who owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants — waded into the fray Wednesday by declaring that he planned to sue Monnin over her incendiary comments, which appeared on her Facebook page Tuesday. Pageant officials also released an email that Monnin reportedly sent to her state pageant director that said, "I am officially and irrevocably resigning the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA 2012. I refuse to be part of a pageant system that has so far and so completely removed itself from its foundational principles as to allow and support natural born males to compete in it. This goes against ever [sic] moral fiber of my being. I believe in integrity, high moral character, and fair play, none of which are part of this system any longer."

So much for wishing for world peace.

Trump, who's been spending much of his time lately accusing President Obama of not being born in America and picking weird fights with USA Today, is a classic bully (and a world-class blowhard). He has no problem throwing a punch. He just can't take one. "She said some really strong things," he said on the "Today" show Wednesday. "When she's using the word ‘fraud,' that's pretty strong, so we're going to be suing her on that basis. I did see her for about a second. I never felt that she had a chance, and all this is buyer's remorse." So, not only does The Donald plan to destroy the poor woman financially, but he's also dogging her looks. "My impressions were she didn't have a chance of being in the top 15, not even close," he told NBC's Ann Curry.

I don't know Monnin, and I'm pretty sure I would disagree with her on almost every hot-button political and social issue out there, but it's hard not to feel more than a little bit of sympathy for her.

First, Trump is just plain wrong about her. She's as pretty as any other contestant. Just look at a picture of her.

Second, she had a point. Anyone who watched the broadcast of the pageant couldn't help but wonder if the fix was in after Miss Rhode Island nailed a question about transgender contestants.

So now we have a repeat of 2009, when Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California and Miss USA first runner-up, created a big stink by announcing that she didn't believe in gay marriage. And Trump gets more of the one thing he can't live without: attention.

Whatever Trump decides to do, though, it won't help solve a more immediate crisis for the Keystone State: the absence of a Miss Pennsylvania USA title-holder. This is believed to be the first time in contest history that a winner has stepped down before completing her reign (not to mention the first time that the first runner-up refused to take up the tiara for her). It's a wonder the commonwealth can function under such circumstances.

"I really don't know what to make of her," Miss Pennsylvania USA's state pageant director, Randy Sanders, who produces five Miss USA state competitions, told me. "The pageant is not rigged. It's too many people involved. It's a major television production. It's on NBC. It's audited from start to finish by Ernst & Young.

“I think it's a situation where a person is emotionally upset at an outcome and has found a reason [for why] they didn't do better than they did," he added. n

Contact Jenice Armstrong at 215-854-2223 or heyjen@phillynews.com, or follow her on Twitter @jenicearmstrong. Read her blog at philly.com/philly/blogs/dnheyjen/.

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