A former top aide to Moral Majority founder Rev. Jerry Falwell sued the television evangelist yesterday for $46 million, claiming Falwell breached an agreement for an elaborate fund-raising and political organizing campaign aimed at Christian fundamentalists in four Southern states.
Charles Cade, former national field director of Falwell's Washington-based lobbying organization, said in documents filed in federal district court in Lynchburg, Va., the plan could have raised up to $4.5 million annually in West Virginia alone.
Cade and a business partner, John Beachem, claimed in the suit that they won oral agreements in March and April 1981 for the plan from Falwell and Moral Majority officials in West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi and South Carolina. The two said that Falwell deputy Ronald Godwin later ordered that they not be paid for the project.
"I have no knowledge of any of that and no comment on it," Godwin, vice president and chief operating officer of Moral Majority said yesterday. "My first inclination is to laugh."
Cade left Falwell's right-wing political organization early last year and designed the proposal with Beachem as an independent business venture. According to press reports, Moral Majority then was turning its attention for the first time to organizing efforts at the state and local levels. The new emphasis reportedly followed such public relations debacles as a campaign against X-rated cookies carried out by Moral Majority's Maryland affiliate.
The organization's hopes for the fund-raising effort were high, according to the lawsuit. "The cause demands such a noble effort," a proposal written by Cade and attached to the suit said.
The aim was the "organization of philosophically conservative citizens into supportive voting and financial coalitions to affect political events and persons in West Virginia . . ." and "to influence the moral direction of this state and nation through participation in the political process," the plan said.
"I don't know that a fund-raising contract ever existed," Godwin said yesterday. "I never heard of it. I can only say that each of our state affiliates is autonomous and independent. We have no authority legally or otherwise over them."
Godwin, who said he had not seen the suit, said he had heard that Cade had contacted some Moral Majority affiliates "several months back" about fund raising. "It's all over my head," he said.