Suit Attempts to Preserve the Integrity and Legacy of Phyllis Schlafly
(St. Louis, Missouri) On August 24, 2016, directors of Eagle Forum, an Illinois non-profit corporation, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against a Virginia corporation calling itself “Phyllis Schlafly’s American Eagles.” Eagle Forum is already involved in a suit in Illinois State Court arising out of the Board of Directors’ termination of the organization’s acting President, Ed Martin, and the Board of Directors’ efforts to obtain an accounting of the organization’s finances.
The new suit, filed derivatively on behalf of Eagle Forum in federal court, alleges that the Virginia corporation, which is also led by Ed Martin, has misappropriated Eagle Forum resources and mailing lists to solicit donations and grassroots support for the newly-formed Virginia organization, leading supporters to believe they are supporting Eagle Forum, when, in fact they are supporting the Virginia corporation, an entirely separate organization that has no relation to Eagle Forum and its Board of Directors, each of whom were hand-picked by Phyllis Schlafly.
Founded by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972, Eagle Forum has led the pro-family movement from its operational headquarters in Alton, Illinois, through a network of well-respected volunteer activists.
“For more than 40 years, Eagle Forum has had a powerful impact on policy from local governments and school boards to Congress, because of Phyllis’ and her volunteer leaders’ stellar reputation and unwavering history of being tireless advocates for the pro-family cause,” said Colleen Holcomb, spokeswoman for the board majority. “Sadly, Ed Martin and a small group of Eagle Forum staff are attempting to hijack Phyllis’ and her volunteer team’s resources and hard-earned credibility to fund a new organization for their own personal gain, while abandoning Eagle Forum.”
The plaintiff board members are some of Phyllis Schlafly’s decades-long friends and most loyal allies. They have collectively devoted 211 years of working tirelessly with Phyllis Schlafly as unpaid volunteers to strengthen Eagle Forum and to promote the organization’s values since its creation. Under the Eagle Forum Bylaws, the Board of Directors is tasked with the duty to protect the name “Eagle Forum.”
In recent months, they have become increasingly concerned about Schlafly, who seems to have been isolated from her many longtime friends and supporters. Even more troubling is the fact that the same individuals denying Eagle Forum volunteers and supporters access to Phyllis, also claim to be speaking on her behalf. These efforts to isolate Phyllis, combined with the apparent diversion of funds and resources into a new Virginia corporation, prompted Board members to take further legal action to protect Eagle Forum.
“America needs a robust, fully active Eagle Forum now more than ever. Phyllis just turned 92 years-old. This is a time when she should be with her beloved Eagles celebrating their tremendous accomplishments and casting the vision for the next generation,” said Holcomb. “I am thankful to these Board members for standing up to defend the great work Phyllis and her faithful volunteer Eagles have established. We pray and believe that the organization will get through this internal challenge, and that the organization will unite once again behind Phyllis and her vision to defend families.