Some followers of the late conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly have decried a public relations campaign by Missouri politico Ed Martin, who has sought to position himself as Schlafly’s true ideological heir.
Now, a public relations firm that claims to have helped Martin with that campaign alleges that he and others have skipped out on the bill, to the tune of $130,000.
Martin — a former candidate for statewide office in Missouri, former state Republican Party chairman and currently a commentator on CNN — denies the allegation. In an emailed statement, Martin, a fervent backer of President Donald Trump, called the public relations firm in question “DC swamp consultants.”
The firm, Quantum Communications Ltd., based in Harrisburg, Penn., is suing Martin, along with the nonprofit he operates and others, for breach of contract. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, says the firm is owed $130,000 for work that included a campaign “to promote Eagle Forum’s position within the conservative community.”
Eagle Forum is the name of the Alton-based conservative organization that Schlafly founded decades ago, and which Martin headed last year before a power struggle with its board of directors. The board moved to expel him, though the matter is still under litigation. Schlafly died in September 2016, at the age of 92, in the midst of the fight, which has divided her adult children.
Martin has retained control over an affiliated nonprofit that also has “Eagle Forum” in its name. Both organizations are named as defendants in the suit, but the narrative of allegations relates only to work the PR firm did for Martin’s group.
Martin, allied with two of Schlafly’s sons, is still embroiled in a multifront legal fight with Schlafly’s original Eagle Forum, which is led by Schlafly’s daughter. That fight stems in part from Schlafly’s backing of Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries over the objections of some of her top lieutenants, who alleged Martin had exerted undue influence over the aging activist.
“I think they’ve made a mistake in naming (Schlafly’s main) Eagle Forum” as a defendant in the latest lawsuit, said Anne Cori, Schlafly’s daughter. “I’ve believed Ed Martin is purposefully trying to confuse the name of ‘Eagle Forum’ in the marketplace.”
A message to the lawyer for the plaintiff wasn’t immediately returned.
The suit claims that as the public relations firm carried out its work at Martin’s behest, including making a documentary film about Schlafly, Martin continually apologized for unpaid bills and assured the firm that they would soon be paid. It also claims it had an agreement for monthly retainers that weren’t paid.
“At no point prior to April of 2017, were any of the invoices questioned or disputed in any way,” claims the suit. “In fact, payment was always assured to be forthcoming.”
In an emailed response to the Post-Dispatch, Martin maintains the public relations firm never had a contract with his organization and didn’t complete the work it said it had done.
“(They) are East Coast political consultants who tried to get Phyllis Schlafly Eagles locked into a bad contract ... Thankfully, they had no contract with us and now ... (are trying) to be paid for monthly retainers like DC swamp consultants,” Martin wrote.
“Those DC types get paid to do no work but cash the check — it looks and feels like protection money to many Americans. And Phyllis Schlafly didn’t do that kind of Swampy thing.”
Phyllis Schlafly Eagles is a separate group Martin has founded. It isn’t named as a defendant in the suit.