The White House Preservation Fund, a money-raising group founded under president Carter, has adopted a new "guideline" that requires its trustees to contribute or raise $250,000 each as a requisite for membership. At least one trustee has already resigned because of the quarter-million-dollar requirement, and several others were clearly startled by the development.
"I'm astonished," said Joy Sundlun, a wealthy Washington socialite. "I have never been on any board where I was required to give a specific amount of money. If, in fact, this is true, I'd resign."
The trustee who did resign is Penne Korth, the former co-vice chair of the Kennedy Center symphony concert during Ronald Reagan's inaugural week. "That's quite a hefty figure," she said yesterday. "It makes one go a little pale."
The decision was made by the preservation fund's five-member executive committee at the beginning of this month. It was to be announced at a full board meeting on April 22 by acting chairman William H.G.FitzGerald. The meeting was postponed and consequently, many of the 29 board members were unaware of the guideline until a reporter's phone call.
"You kind of take my breath away," said George Hartzog Jr., a trustee and a lawyer who helped incorporate the fund three years ago. "It sounds a little strange to me."
FitzGerald explained that the decision was reached because the Reagan administration "didn't see much progress being made." The fund, which the Carters helped inaugurate with a $125-a-head fund-raiser in April 1980, has a goal of $25 million. Its balance at the end of 1981 was $486,270.
Its mission is to work with the White House Historical Association and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House to acquire artwork and antiques for the White House state floors. It also hopes to spend $500,000 annually for White House maintenance.
Edward Stone, the fund's executive director, said that the $250,000 was "really not a hard and fast thing that says 'You do, or you're not in.' It's just to give some people an idea of what is expected--and the seriousness of the effort."
The executive committee that made the decision includes Harriet Deutsch, a wealthy Reagan friend from California; Richard Manoogian, the president and director of the Masco Corp. of Michigan; Jean George, the wife of the chairman of the board of the Alcoa Corp.; James Evans, the chief executive officer of the Union Pacific Corp.; and FitzGerald, the former chairman of the inaugural and former vice chairman of Financial General Bankshares Inc. in the District.
FitzGerald said the White House had no part in the decision. "The committee discussed this, and we said, 'What we've got to do is commit.' That was the process."
Many of the trustees, particularly the newer ones, are either well-to-do Reagan friends from California, such as Marion Jorgensen and former U.S. protocol chief Lee Annenberg, or socialites, such as Baroness Sandra di Portanova, the international jet-setter who lives at both Claridge's in London and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. She occasionally takes day trips for shopping from London to Paris in her husband's plane.
Other trustees who have been board members for some time include Marvin Traub, the chairman of the board of Bloomingdale's; Allan Carr, the independent film producer; William Batten, chairman of the board of the New York Stock Exchange; Jane Engelhard, chairman of the board of Engelhard-Hanovia; and Bill O. Mead, chairman and chief executive officer of Campbell-Taggart, Inc. of Texas.
Yesterday, Stone said he was still informing many trustees of the new guideline. "Frankly, it's a very personal set of calls," he said.