NEW YORK – The internal battle for control of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum appears to have been sparked by division over the Republican presidential primary, but the stakes are much bigger than that, contends one of the conservative icon’s sons, activist and lawyer Andy Schlafly.
“This battle is a lot more than a battle between Cruz and Trump,” he told WND. “It’s a battle over the future of the conservative movement.”
As WND reported, Phyllis Schlafly survived what she and her supporters described as a coup attempt by six members of the 501(c)4, educationally oriented non-profit Eagle Forum organization who oppose her support of GOP front-runner Donald Trump. The six board members, who support Cruz, are Eunie Smith, Anne Cori, Cathie Adams, Rosina Kovar, Shirley Curry and Carolyn McLarty. Cori is one of Phyllis Schlafly’s daughters.
Andy Schlafly charged that several of the six opposition board members “are not conservative at all” on social issues.
“I acknowledge the six board members in opposition are all Cruz supporters, but their opposition has broad ramifications that go well beyond a contest between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz,” he argued.
He said his sister, Cori, who reportedly wants to replace Ed Martin as executive director, “has never written anything” that he considers socially conservative.
“The liberals within Eagle Forum are using the fact that Anne Cori is Phyllis Schlafly’s daughter much as liberals have used Ronald Reagan Jr. to play off against President Reagan’s conservative agenda, when of course Ron Reagan Jr., is not conservative at all,” Andy Schlafly said.
He said his sister “has not written anything pro-life or in favor of traditional marriage.”
“The six are fine with the feminism of Ted Cruz and his wife. I can’t think of any recent statements by any of the six that is critical of feminism,” he said.
“The six board members are being deceitful to insist their goal is not to remove Phyllis,” he insisted. “Their first step was an attempt to remove Phyllis Schlafly’s power, but they want to continue to trade off Phyllis’ name.”
Andy Schlafly strongly endorsed Martin, saying he “has been excellent.”
“He is an across-the-board conservative. We had our best annual meeting ever, last September under his direction,” he said. “At that meeting, we had by far the largest attendance we’ve ever had and four presidential candidates spoke.”
The 501(c)4 Eagle Forum is distinct from the 501(c)3 organization that allows for political campaigning.
What are the rules?
Phyllis Schlafly contends the six opposition board members failed to follow the by-laws when they convened a meeting April 11 that she considers illegal.
She contends a three-quarters majority is required to make legally binding changes.
“I do not consider the April 11 board meeting legal according to the by-laws, and so I don’t consider the resolutions the six board members passed to be valid or binding,” Schlafly told WND.
Anne Cori is the opposition board member who was reportedly selected to succeed Martin as executive director of the Eagle Forum 501(c)4 organization.
In a vote during the April 11 telephone board meeting, six board members formed a simple majority of the 11-person board to pass seven resolutions, including the removal of Martin.
Cori told WND on Monday that she and the other five members have called another meeting of the 501(c)4 board for May 2 to follow up on the seven resolutions.
Cori further told WND she believes the April 11 meeting was properly convened according to the organization’s by-laws and that the removal of Martin required only a simple majority vote.
“We did follow the by-laws in the April 11 meeting because the by-laws allow for three members of the board to make a call for a board meeting with 10 days notice, and we did that,” Cori said.
“The by-laws only required a simple majority to remove Ed Martin as executive director and we had that simple majority when we voted to remove Ed on April 11,” she continued. “The by-laws are quite clear that a two-thirds majority is not needed for dismissal.”
‘Don’t have the votes’
But Andy Schlafly contends the Eagle Forum 501(c)4 by-laws “make it clear you need a two-thirds majority to make any major change, including motions to add a board member, remove a board member, or amend the by-laws.”
With 11 border members, he said, the opposition members “don’t have the votes.”
“They aren’t even close. With six votes, they are two votes shy of two-thirds,” he said.
He compared the votes taken by the six board members on April 11 to remove Martin and to take control of various bank accounts to illegal actions that might be taken in Congress.
“The six members of the board cannot fire Ed Martin unless they have eight votes any more than the Senate of the United States could remove the president of the United States by a majority vote on its own authority, without the House first impeaching the president,” he said. “It’s like arguing that because Al Gore had a majority of the popular vote in 2000, he was elected president.”
Schlafly dismissed the idea that his mother will have to take any legal action to regain control of Eagle Forum.
“If the Senate voted illegally to remove the president, what would the president do?” he asked rhetorically. “Nothing. That’s what the president would do. The president would notify the Senate their action was illegal under the Constitution. There would be no need for the president to run into court to make the point.”
WND asked Cori what steps the six board members would take if Phyllis Schlafly refused to recognize the legitimacy of the April 11 board meeting.
“I have full confidence the rules will be obeyed,” Cori replied. “I love my mother very much. I have learned so much from her. She is the most fabulous person I have ever met. The reason I’m strong is because she made me strong.”
Phyllis Schlafly asks opponents to resign
In a follow-up interview, Phyllis Schlafly confirmed to WND that she has asked the six board members to resign and that Eagle Forum has retained legal counsel.
“I haven’t taken any legal action yet,” she said, “and I’m not sure we are going to do anything in court at this time.”
The Eagle Forum website displays no prominent discussion of the six board members or of the actions they took at the April 11 board meeting.
On April 21, Eagle Forum issued its typical invitation for college students and their parents to attend the organization’s 23rd annual Collegians Summit at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., from June 7-9. A video promo also makes no mention of the controversy within the organization.
See the video:
Cruz campaign sought Schlafly endorsement
In an interview with WND, Martin affirmed a Breitbart.com report that Jeff Roe, campaign manager for Ted Cruz, “inserted himself” into the controversy within Eagle Forum, trying to persuade Martin to convince Phyllis Schlafly to endorse Cruz after 20 prominent Eagle Forum state leaders published their endorsement of Cruz.
“In the last three months, Jeff Roe, campaign manager to Ted Cruz, has tried to put pressure on me and Eagle Forum to get Phyllis Schlafly’s endorsement for Cruz,” Martin explained. “Roe would call me and comment on various articles Phyllis had written that were supportive of Trump and he would try to persuade me to change her mind.”
Martin, a social conservative from Missouri who has served as a member of the Republican National Committee, explained to WND he knew Roe through his work as a political operative based in Missouri.
Roe did not respond to a WND phone call and email requesting comment.
“In the last few months, Roe has been upset at what Phyllis has written and said. And then he was upset when Phyllis endorsed Trump on March 11,” Martin continued. “We have had that issue. I know Roe from Missouri and we talked directly about the Cruz campaign.”
Martin said that in the last three months, “it was confusing because some members of Eagle Forum had openly endorsed Cruz, and I had to explain to Roe that Phyllis Schlafly had not endorsed any candidate until March.”
“Jeff likes to be known for being a kind of ‘hardball’ guy,” Martin said.
Martin said he believes Schlafly’s endorsement of Trump was a factor in Trump’s narrow victory in the Missouri primary.
“In so far as all six of the board members opposing Phyllis have endorsed Cruz, pressure from the Cruz campaign has been a factor, especially with Cathie Adams (Texas Eagle Forum) and Anne Cori, Phyllis daughter (Missouri Eagle Forum) strongly endorsing Cruz,” he acknowledged.
“It’s well known that in Missouri, where Phyllis resides, she moves a lot of votes,” Martin stressed. “The Cruz campaign was very clear they understood the value of Phyllis as a conservative thought leader, as well as her impact on public policy, and politics.
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