September 14, 2017; St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Antifeminist icon Phyllis Schlafly died a year ago at the age of 92, but even a few months before her death, she was still spry enough to pick a fight or two as the president of the conservative Eagle Forum. Specifically, she broke ranks with her daughter and the board by loudly backing Trump as her pick for president over their objections. She also tried to eject her daughter as one of a “gang of six” rogue board members after they first tried to get her to resign.
We all know that strong personalities can be a double-edged sword, both attracting followers to a nonprofit and sometimes taking up way too much space. Even after death, in fact, some founders haunt the halls.
It seems her passing has not calmed any waters. On Thursday, a federal court rejected an attempt by Phyllis Schlafly’s son, Andrew, to block an annual board meeting of the Forum, which is chaired by Schlafly’s daughter, Ann Schlafly Cori. Andrew has accused his sister and the other Eagle Forum board members of expelling him and other members and of spending down the assets of the nonprofit.
“Money is just flying out the door,” Andrew Schlafly alleged. “Eagle Forum may be insolvent soon.”
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James Sanders, who is the attorney for the Eagle Forum, charges on the other hand that Andrew Schlafly “has been plotting for over 18 months to destroy Eagle Forum” by suing the organization in various states. Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes,
Andrew Schlafly has led one of two factions at legal war with each other in the wake of his mother’s death last year. He is allied with Ed Martin, the Missouri politico who was Phyllis Schlafly’s right-hand man and head of Eagle Forum in the final months of her life. Martin himself has been embroiled in other litigation regarding Eagle Forum, though he wasn’t a party to Friday’s hearing.
The board removed Martin as Eagle Forum’s president, though he still heads an affiliated nonprofit. Both Martin and Cori and her allies are claiming to be Phyllis Schlafly’s true ideological heirs. Among issues being litigated in elsewhere is whether Martin, Andrew Schlafly, and others have attempted to sabotage Eagle Forum’s membership base by forming a competing organization with a similar name.
We have always maintained that founder’s syndrome can long outlast a nonprofit founder. This is, we believe, a case in point made way worse by the family dynamics of the woman who championed the stay-at-home mom.—Ruth McCambridge