Since the religious right movement took shape in the 1970s, various groups and leaders have risen and fallen, but Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum has been a bedrock for social conservatives. Though younger readers may not immediately recognize the name, Schlafly was a prominent national figure for many years – few fought against the Equal Rights Amendment with greater zeal – and the Eagle Forum was a pioneering religious right outfit, even pre-dating the Moral Majority.
Schlafly, now 91, is still the face of the organization she created 44 years ago, which made it all the more interesting yesterday when the Eagle Forum’s founder issued a press statement describing what appears to be an intra-party coup:
“At 2 pm today, 6 directors of Eagle Forum met in an improper, unprecedented telephone meeting. I objected to the meeting and at 2:11 pm, I was muted from the call. The meeting was invalid under the Bylaws but the attendees purported to pass several motions to wrest control of the organization from me. They are attempting to seize access to our bank accounts, to terminate employees, and to install members of their own Gang of 6 to control the bank accounts and all of Eagle Forum.“The members of their group are: Eunie Smith of Alabama, Anne Cori of Missouri, Cathie Adams of Texas, Rosina Kovar of Colorado, Shirley Curry of Tennessee, and Carolyn McLarty of Oklahoma.”
It’s worth emphasizing that this is as much an intra-family fight as an intra-organization fight: note that Schlafly’s statement called out Anne Cori, an Eagle Forum board member who also happens to be Schlafly’s daughter.
And why is this coup attempt underway? It appears to be a dispute over, of all things, Donald Trump.
As Right Wing Watch noted, Schlafly endorsed the Republican frontrunner ahead of Missouri’s primary last month, despite the support Ted Cruz enjoys among many state and local Eagle Forum leaders. An Eagle Forum official in Texas, Cathie Adams, publicly speculated that Schlafly had been “manipulated” by Trump, who “took advantage” of her advanced age.
Adams was called out by name in Schlafly’s statement yesterday as one of the ringleaders of the coup.
Schlafly also spoke yesterday with WorldNetDaily, a right-wing conspiracy website, and said she’s facing “a complete takeover attempt,” at least in part because of her support for Trump.
A Washington Post report added that Schlafly has not yet been formally ousted from her own organization, but according to the group’s current president, that’s “clearly the plan of Eagle’s board.”
Trump is quite the unifying force in Republican politics, isn’t he?