AL.com published an article on Jan 21 which was full of inaccuracies as well as alleging that EF committed a crime by not reporting lobbying activities. We have posted the article below with red comments inserted to show their inaccuracies. Read the letter our President and General Counsel sent to the author.
Politically powerful Eagle Forum of Alabama Shares DC Riot Conspiracy Theories
By Howard Koplowitz | [email protected] Posted Jan 21, 2021
Filmmaker, author and podcast host Curtis Bowers last week detailed his first-hand account of the chaos at the U.S. Capitol building.
According to Bowers, a conspiracy theorist (Curtis is a remarkable student of history and an avid researcher and producer of an award winning documentary.) and former Idaho state representative, the violence at the Capitol shared a common motivation with COVID-19: both are “globalist” plots to destroy America and install communism, he said. (Please show where he said this. The only place where COVID was even mentioned was at 35:11-35:34 discussing Biden wants a hundred-day mask mandate. One other time lockdowns were mentioned was at 43:43-44:03.)
Bowers was not just spouting conspiracy theories on his podcast or a fringe right-wing blog. He was the guest on a livestream broadcast by the Eagle Forum of Alabama, a conservative group that wields influence in state politics. As of this morning, the video had more than 900 views on YouTube.
“Our country, the communists, have taken over. The Democratic Party [is] now getting control of their country … they’re going to create tyranny over us,” Bowers said in a video shot during the riots shown on the Eagle Forum’s livestream.
“And people are saying, ‘no,’ because they see what’s happening. They know their children are going to be slaves, and they’re not going to put up with that. People are at the point where ‘yep, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to stay free in this country.’”
For most of its history, the Eagle Forum of Alabama, which formed in 1976 and is affiliated with the longtime conservative national organization Eagle Forum, did not engage in fringe conspiracy theories. (What fringe conspiracy theories?) But that all changed in 2019, when Becky Gerritson, founder of the Wetumpka TEA Party and former congressional candidate, was named the group’s executive director.
“I never saw Ms. Eunie engage in anything that I would consider a conspiracy theory,” said Angi Stalnaker, a Republican strategist in Montgomery, referring to Eunie Smith, the founder and president of the Eagle Forum of Alabama.
The national Eagle Forum group was founded by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly in the 1970s and focused much of its efforts on stopping the Equal Rights Amendment, a campaign depicted in the 2020 TV miniseries, “Mrs. America.” Around the time of Schlafly’s death in 2016, the Eagle Forum fractured, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
A new organization that formed, Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, promoted the D.C. protests that preceded the breach of the Capitol, “likening the rally to D-Day,” Time magazine reported. (Phyllis Schlafly Eagles is not in any way affiliated with Eagle Forum so this comment is irrelevant.)
Gerritson, who gained national attention for her 2013 testimony to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee about the IRS targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny in receiving tax-exempt status, interviewed Bowers on the livestream and continually nodded as he flouted conspiracy theories, including that Antifa and Black Lives Matters were responsible for the violence (This not a “conspiracy theory”. It is a fact. Multiple arrest reports, news stories and live videos show ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter WERE involved in the breach of the Capitol.) and that Trump supporters did not participate. (Listen to the video, Bowers never said Trump supporters did not participate. As a matter of fact at the 19:50 mark he says that there were Trump supporters who participated and again it is discussed from 22:43-25:13) She did push back, however, when Bowers suggested that the death of Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol Police officer who died of injuries sustained in the attack, did not stem from violence.
A flier advertising Tuesday night’s event said Bowers would provide information “to help you understand how this event is being used as part of the [Marxist] takeover of America.”
Gerritson has been a constant presence in Montgomery since becoming executive director, advocating for and against bills and testifying at committee meetings. But while she is a registered lobbyist, her disclosure forms for all eight quarters over the last two years declare that she “performed no lobbying activities.” (This is an outright lie and must be retracted immediately. Eagle Forum has always filled all lobbying reports on time and according to all of the rules of the Ethics Committee. We have provided copies to this reporter. Howard needs to learn how to read these reports accurately.)
Efforts to obtain comments from Gerritson were unsuccessful. (First of all, Howard talked to Rep. Mike Holmes and Angie Stalnaker before he ever reached out to Becky. But the statement “Efforts to obtain comments from Gerritson were unsuccessful.” is not true. On Jan 19 at 9:09PM Becky got a text from Howard agreeing to talk after 2:00 on Jan 20th but he never called.)
“Under the guidance of the new exec director, the Eagle Forum has certainly taken a more aggressive approach in the state house. The effectiveness of that approach has had very mixed results,” said Stalnaker. While she said she couldn’t point to legislation that either died or passed because of the Eagle Forum’s influence, she said the group is “effective.”
State Rep. Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka, who said he helped form the Wetumpka TEA Party with Gerritson, said the Eagle Forum of Alabama’s “main attraction is their conservative, basic foundation of their reason for existing.”
“I think they have considerable influence in the legislature and the governor’s office,” Holmes said. “I do think they’re well connected.”
When told of Bowers’ remarks on the livestream, Holmes said he did not know about them and neither condemned nor approved them.