Phyllis Schlafly is at or near the top of every list of the most admired conservative women in America. Rightfully so. For the record, Phyllis Schlafly was one of my early mentors and I hold her in high esteem.
So it was with sadness that I read that there was a coup attempt to oust her as board chairman and CEO of Eagle Forum, the organization she started in 1972, which boasts some 80,000 members. Similar stories have circulated over the past two weeks.
Eagle Forum is a powerful political force and the Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund has been equipping and educating conservatives for more than four decades. These are important organizations which should be preserved at all cost. Equally important, they are part of the legacy of this great lady.
Much of what I have read, appears to be the work of insiders engaged in their own power struggles who are attempting to work out internal squabbles by airing them in the media. As with any organization of this size, there are differences of opinion that should be resolved outside of the glare and the political biases of the media. This is unfortunate and easily could have been avoided.
There has been a lot of finger-pointing. Clearly, mistakes were made. However, I believe that most of the reporting has majored on the minors. Specifically, that the primary rub centered on the fact that Ms. Schlafly endorsed the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, while a large block of Eagle Forum members, including many state presidents, backed Ted Cruz.
Phyllis Schlafly earned the right to endorse whomever she chooses. Her endorsement was hers and hers alone and it is a powerful endorsement to be sure. The same thing can be said of the various state presidents who have given many years of faithful service to this organization and the conservative movement without pay, and who have, in fact, supported the organization financially.
It appears, that the news regarding this “attempted coup” originated from Eagle Forum’s newly installed president, Ed Martin. It was Martin who sent out the emails, called members of the media and sounded the bells that went off alarming Ms. Schlafly.
Here are the facts: According to press reports, six board members (which included Schlafly’s daughter Anne Cori, the president of Missouri Eagle Forum) called a special executive session (board members only) meeting of Eagle Forum, the 501-C4, which is the political arm of the organization. Unreported is the fact that, although Ed Martin holds the title of president and receives a salary of $150,000 per year divided equally between the C-3 and the C-4, Martin is not a member of either board and does not chair these meetings. The primary reason for the C-4 board meeting was to discuss the paid staff positions in general and Mr. Martin’s conduct specifically.
Also, previously reported, there are 11 members on the C-4 board. Therefore, if there had been an attempted coup to oust Ms. Schlafly, she would have been one vote shy. So how did she survive? In short, it appears there was no attempted coup against Ms. Schlafly. Instead, the board wished to discuss the problems it had with Ed Martin’s management style and his treatment of the volunteers. There was no vote to remove Ms. Schlafly because none was planned. The six members who called this meeting have a combined total of over 200 years of faithful service to Eagle Forum. They remain loyal to the organization and to Ms. Schlafly whom they revere. However, they did vote to remove Ed Martin as president of the C-4 and its half of his salary.
Now, two members of the C-3 board reportedly have been removed in retaliation and it appears there are legal issues involved surrounding the validity of these board meetings. Surely, this can be resolved without outside legal council.
My hope is that reason will prevail and that Ms. Schlafly will have a private, in person, meeting with these six unpaid, tireless workers where any differences can be worked out outside the glare of the many vultures in the media who would love to see everything she has worked for destroyed. Martin has a history of political problems in the state which the media loves to exploit.
Even more important is that any rub that has occurred between family members as a result of the Martin issue can be healed. No amount of money, no staff position or political difference is worth it.