Let me start by thanking the many close friends and family whose prayers and support have sustained me over the past month; it’s been a difficult time. Without their support and prayers, I wouldn’t be able to continue to fight the good fight.
I didn’t want to say any of this but my attempts to keep this conflict as private as possible seem to have been rejected, and I am now compelled to discuss the many deceitful statements being made and the intentional confusion being spread. Keep in mind that this matter is in litigation so there are limits to what I can say. The litigation was filed by Texans for Vaccine Choice and is based on clear and ample evidence. My intent is not to try this lawsuit in the “court of public opinion” or in this publication, but rather to clear up the misrepresentations and falsehoods being stated about me and this matter.
Contrary to what you may have heard, there has been no hostile takeover of Texans for Vaccine Choice (TFVC).
Jackie Schlegel was removed from her position on the TFVC Board of Directors and as TFVC Executive Director in the normal and healthy course of non-profit governance.
For background, although you probably interacted only with and knew about Texans for Vaccine Choice, there were actually two entities fighting for medical freedom, Texans for Vaccine Choice (TFVC), a 501c4 engaged in legislative and political advocacy and Texans for Vaccine Freedom (TFVF), a 501c3 restricted to engaging in educational efforts. Prior to November 18, 2021, the TFVC Board of Directors consisted of Jackie Schelgel, Christine Welborn, and myself, and the TFVF Board of Directors consisted of Jackie Schlegel, Joel Starnes, and myself. Since then, Jackie has been removed from the TFVC Board, and I have been removed from the TFVF Board.
Here is the actual breakdown of the course of events:
Around noon on November 13, 2021, an employee called Christine Welborn, Joel Starnes, and myself. This employee relayed her concerns that Jackie and her consultant Matt Langston were taking TFVC in a new direction. In particular, they were pushing to give Governor Abbott an award at an upcoming donor dinner that was scheduled for the evening of December 11, 2021 in Buda, TX.
This was disturbing to me since Governor Abbott has refused to follow in the courageous footsteps of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who worked to pass legislation that protected Floridians from vaccine mandates. In contrast, the Texas GOP, many lawmakers, and countless grassroots organizations have demanded that Governor Abbott call a 4th special session to address vaccine mandates, but he has, to date, refused to do so.
In order to gain more insight into the situation, Christine Welborn and I interviewed three of the five employees and found out that all three of them were prepared to resign, citing Jackie and her consultant’s “new direction” for TFVC as the reason.
Christine also reached out to Jackie to discuss these concerns. She was told by Jackie that TFVC would not be calling for a 4th special session stating, “we are not ready.” Jackie also mentioned that there was no reason to act because she now “had a seat at the table” and Gov. Abbott’s staff were willing to meet with her.
It was mind boggling to me that TFVC would not call for a 4th special session on the issue of vaccine mandates – thousands of Texans were losing their jobs daily! Even if TFVC could not actively participate in another special session, they should still call for one so that the Texas GOP and the many activists ready to hit the ground running at the capitol could do the work that TFVC was not “ready” to do.
Gov. Abbott’s efforts to date have been half measures without any means of enforcement. Having the ability to make an appointment with his staff will not change that. Immense pressure from the citizens of Texas is the only thing that will.
Christine also mentioned to Jackie the fact that, as a Board member, she was uncomfortable with how much control of the organization was being given to Matt Langston, Jackie’s new consultant, and that the staff were opposed to the “new direction” Matt had stated the organization was going in.
Jackie told Christine at least five times on the phone that the only way to return to TFVC’s original mission and get rid of Matt was to fire her.
As you may recall, although I was a co-founder of Texans for Vaccine Choice and had spent the last 6 years working on this movement, I stepped away from TFVC in April 2021, and I was loving my new job. I also knew that this disagreement was with someone who I have cared for and loved for years, making my appetite for wanting to weigh into this next to nil.
But after careful consideration and lengthy discussions with Christine, we realized that TFVC could only return to its original mission if Jackie was given time to grieve – as her mother had passed away in late September – and reconsider.
We called for Board meetings for Friday, November 19, 2021, and all parties agreed. Christine and I spent the week prior to the Board meeting crafting a generous package for her that included up to a year of paid bereavement leave as no one was out to hurt Jackie financially. We planned on presenting this option to her at the November 19 meeting.
In the week leading up to the Board meeting, it was my prayer that that once Jackie saw that no one was trying to fire her, that our hearts were to put TFVC back in a position to fight for our members, and that we wanted to give her the time and space she needed to deal with the heavy circumstances in her life and to discern whether there was really a disagreement between the Board on the direction TFVC should go, or whether such disagreements were improperly influenced by Matt Langston that our proposed offer would hopefully be a relief to her.
Instead, at 4:55pm the night before the Board meeting, we got a call from an employee letting us know that Jackie had transferred $116,000 – 80% of the TFVC account – to TFVF, an organization that Jackie knew she had the votes to control. To be clear, and a forensic audit of the bank records reflects this, only once in the history of our organization had money been moved from TFVC to TFVF – $50, to open the TFVF bank account originally in November 2016. It was not in the usual course of business to ever move funds from the TFVC account to the TFVF account.
I was shocked, but immediately took the action necessary to protect TFVC, our donors, and the Board. We hired an attorney, contacted the bank and made it clear that this transfer was made without the permission of the Board of Directors and that Jackie had no jurisdiction to even authorize such a transfer. The bank immediately reversed the transaction.
The next day at the scheduled Board meeting, we asked Jackie to decide if she was willing to stay with TFVC if Matt Langston were gone. If the answer was yes, then we could discuss if she needed additional paid time off. Even with her egregious actions just hours before, the Board still offered Jackie up to a year of paid bereavement leave. We wanted to ensure that she would not suffer financially because of her bad decision the night before.
Jackie asked for time to consider the outstanding question of whether she wanted to continue without Matt Langston. We said of course, and she agreed to come to a decision the Monday after Thanksgiving. Crucially, we all also agreed to keep this situation confidential until her decision was made, to not take any TFVC action during the week of Thanksgiving, and that Jackie would not represent herself as TFVC Executive Director. TFVC also ended its relationship with Matt Langston.
To clarify, we gave Jackie ten days to consider our offer. She not only rejected that offer but has now tried to call it a bribe. There is clear evidence that this was not a bribe, but rather an attempt by longtime friends to allow for the situation to cool down and try for reconciliation. That evidence will be presented in due course if we are not able to resolve this matter at mediation, which is our fervent desire.
Unfortunately, within just 48 hours, that agreement was broken. Matt Langston continued to send unauthorized emails and communications to our members, on behalf of Jackie as Executive Director of TFVC. When our attorney asked him to stop, citing that he was damaging the chances of reconciliation between Jackie and the Board, he nonetheless persisted. It wasn’t until these requests were ignored that we were forced to issue a cease and desist, revoke our previous offer, and offer a severance agreement instead.
Langston ignored the cease and desist and urged others to also ignore TFVC’s legal counsel, and thus we successfully obtained a temporary restraining order against the use of Jackie’s name as Executive Director of TFVC. We have been attempting mediation with an unbiased, professional mediator since then.
To reiterate, that Jackie attempted to transfer 80% of TFVC’s funds, something that had never previously been done or even discussed with the Board, is disturbing but not the sole reason for her removal. To further reiterate, TFVC was compelled to involve the courts only after Matt and Jackie made it clear during the week of Thanksgiving, a week Jackie said that she needed to consider the offer provided at the November 19 Board meeting, that they had no intention of abiding by the agreement made at that meeting.
Since this all went down, I have stepped down from my other job and taken a significant pay cut to return to my work at TFVC. It was a sacrifice, but necessary for this movement to which I have dedicated so many years.
The decision to remove Jackie from the Board and as Executive Director was made by myself and Christine alone. No one made us do it. We never acted as the agents of someone else’s will, and anyone saying otherwise is either naive or intentionally misleading you. We made the decision to protect an organization that I and others founded together because Texans need us now more than ever.
After regaining control of TFVC and its assets, it has sadly become even more evident that Jackie had indeed ceded control of the organization to her consultant and was insufficiently focused on the dire situations of the many Texans forced to either take a vaccine they do not want or lose their jobs.
Since this transition happened and new leadership was put in place, TFVC finally came out and called for a 4th special session. We also put out a Vaccine Choice Protection Pledge that candidates for any office in Texas can sign supporting our members. We plan to use this information in the TFVC Voter Guide so you know which candidates support medical freedom in Texas in the upcoming elections.
Jackie’s reaction to this conflict is heartbreaking. The lies and the name calling are beyond the pale.
Please pray for swift resolution, for the Board, for the employees and their families, for Jackie, and for the thousands of Texans who have lost their jobs or fear losing their jobs due to vaccine mandates.
For more information and source documents backing up my above statement, please visit this page.