Yesterday, several members of the board of the conservative group Eagle Forum convened a meeting at which they reportedly voted to oust the group’s president, Ed Martin. Martin, a Republican activist in Missouri, was named president of Eagle Forum last year, while its founder, legendary anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, remained chairman of the board and CEO.
Schlafly is a conservative icon who has drawn plaudits from the Right for her vocal opposition to feminism, LGBT rights and immigration. But the 91-year-old activist has seen her organization thrown into chaos this week.
Over the weekend, Martin emailed Eagle Forum members warning that six state-level leaders of the group were “pushing a scheme to push Phyllis Schlafly out of Eagle Forum.” He dubbed this group, which included Schlafly’s daughter Anne Cori, the “Gang of 6” and said that the planned coup was motivated by differences of opinion about whether the U.S. should hold an Article V constitutional convention.
At yesterday’s meeting, Eagle Forum’s board reportedly removed Martin from his post as president and installed Cori as the group’s executive director. Two other women who were mentioned in Martin’s “Gang of Six” email, Eunie Smith and Shirley Curry, were named interim president and head of the search committee for a new president, respectively.
“I am honored and excited to be working with our wonderful state volunteer leaders from across the country. We are continuing the incredible legacy of our Founder Phyllis Schlafly,” Cori said in a statement posted under the Eagle Forum banner on the website of Eagle Forum of Alabama.
Schlafly, however, released a statement on her official Facebook account alleging that she was “muted from the call” on which the decision to oust Martin was made and that the “meeting was invalid under the Bylaws but the attendees purported to pass several motions to wrest control of the organization from me.”
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Cori implied that some of the criticism of the board that has been attributed to her mother is actually coming from Martin.” The newspaper noted that “Schlafly and Martin have been releasing apparently coordinated messages on Facebook, Twitter and email.”
Smith told the newspaper that the move to oust Martin was due to his “character and management style.”
Martin’s claim that the “Gang of Six” led an insurgency because they were upset that Schlafly opposed a constitutional convention of states that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon anyways always seemed hard to believe. Smith, for her part, said that the “statements from Mr. Martin are slanderous, libelous and without merit.”
In an interview with a St. Louis radio station yesterday, Martin said that the turmoil was actually a result of Schlafly’s prominent endorsement of Donald Trump, arguing that the six activists were upset about “Phyllis endorsing Trump.” (He also suggested that they are “greedy for power or money.”)
“Phyllis is very discreet,” he added. “Some of the stuff that’s gone on, Phyllis didn’t want to have out there. There is a connection to the Cruz campaign and we’re figuring out how to talk about that.”
At least five of the six Eagle Forum activists who were behind the move have publicly endorsed Ted Cruz, and one of them went so far as to suggest that Schalfly was “manipulated” into backing the billionaire mogul. However, Cori and Smith denied that the vote to remove Martin had anything to do with Schlafly’s support for Trump and insisted that they do not wish to remove Schlafly from the organization.
Smith said in a post on Eagle Forum of Alabama’s website: “It is because of our love and respect for Phyllis and our years of camaraderie that we remain dedicated to protecting her legacy and Eagle Forum.”
But things have at least partly returned to business as usual for Schlafly, who today released a column titled “Feminists can’t get over Clarence Thomas.”
“Feminists hold grudges forever,” she writes.