EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (CN) — A power struggle in the Eagle Forum, fueled by its founder Phyllis Schlafly's endorsement of Donald Trump, has led to a lawsuit pitting Schlafly family members against one another.
Executive Director Anne Schlafly Cori, daughter of the group's founder Phyllis Schlafly, sued her brother John Schlafly, Eagle Forum president or ex-president Ed Martin and the Eagle Forum itself, on April 22 in Madison County Court.
Five other members of the forum board of directors joined as plaintiffs. Phyllis Schlafly herself is not a party to the lawsuit.
The six board members ask the court to declare their ouster of president Martin legitimate. Martin claims his removal was an invalid power grab at an illegal meeting.
Among the allegations are that defendant John Schlafly, the forum's secretary, "is paid a salary, however the majority directors are not aware what his salary is, what his title is or whether he is an employee of the Eagle Forum."
The board members claim that since Martin took over as president on Jan. 31, 2015, the Eagle Forum "has experienced unprecedented chaos and division between its national presence, the State Eagle Forums and its membership base" and that his "failure to set forth any structure or delineation has caused the respective powers, duties, assets and governing responsibilities of both entities to be blurred."
They also claim Martin has used his position to push his personal agendas.
"The draconian approach to leadership evidenced by Martin has spurned Eagle Forum employees and state presidents, many of whom have served as citizen-volunteers with Eagle Forum entities since the 1970s, towards uproar and threatened resignation," the complaint states. "Furthermore, with Martin as president, the Eagle Forum 501(c)(4) leadership in the national pro-family movement has diminished."
The board says the final referendum on Martin's leadership came when Bott Radio Network withdrew its sponsorship of "Eagle Forum Live," a weekly radio show started by Phyllis Schlafly and now hosted by Anne Schlafly Cori, broadcast on 110 stations nationwide.
The plaintiffs say the board of directors met on April 11 and voted to remove Martin to salvage their efforts and reputation.
They say the meeting was properly announced, in a March 29 notice to all members of the board.
However, on April 8, the board convened via telephone meeting without proper notice, according to the complaint.
"Anne Schlafly Cori attended the meeting solely to object that there was no proper notice," the lawsuit states. "After so objecting, Anne Schlafly Cori was muted from the call and prevented from further objecting to the proceedings. In this meeting, the Board of Directors of the Eagle Forum 501(c)(3) purported to remove Anne Schlafly Cori as a director of the Eagle Forum 501(c)(3) by electing a successor."
The next day, the plaintiffs say, Martin posted a statement on Facebook: "'Hostile Takeover Alert! Word has come of a rogue board meeting and an upcoming hostile takeover of Eagle Forum's board and its assets. Phyllis Schlafly's endorsement of Trump is a likely catalyst. But you can be sure the real objective is to control the Eagle Forum bank accounts and that the Gang of 6 will present a carefully crafted excuse for public consumption. Please pray, call the Gang of 6 to object, and stay tuned.'