- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2002

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) The daughters of former President Richard M. Nixon have always pulled together in the darkest of times, from the Watergate investigation to their father's 1974 resignation.
They've also been inseparable through happier moments, serving as maids of honor in each other's weddings and working to promote their father's legacy.
But a legal fight over a $19 million gift to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation, the only presidential library that does not receive federal funding, has set the daughters against each other and brought into question the stewardship of the library.
Published reports have painted it as a feud, saying Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Tricia Nixon Cox had cut off communication. But in interviews with the Associated Press, the two women denied such claims and characterized the dispute as a disagreement they were working to solve.
"First of all, we were never not speaking. It's gotten so blown out of proportion. It was a very straightforward difference of opinion," Mrs. Eisenhower said. "I think because we were so private and refused to talk about it, these stories just got out of control."
Mrs. Cox agreed and said the two even continued exchanging birthday cards and letters.
"I've always loved my sister, and I always will. We've worked together in the past for the things that we believe, and we are going to continue to do that," she said.
The disagreement stems from a trust left by longtime Nixon friend Charles "Bebe" Rebozo, who died in 1998. The trust specified that the money go to the library foundation but that expenditures be overseen by a three-person board consisting of the two sisters and family friend Robert Abplanalp. A call to Mr. Abplanalp was not immediately returned.
Mrs. Eisenhower, 53, and the foundation want the money put into an endowment under the control of its 24-member board of directors. Mrs. Cox, 56, also wants the money put into an endowment, but under the control of the three-person board as spelled out by the trust.
After negotiations stalled, the foundation with Mrs. Eisenhower's support filed a lawsuit in February against the Rebozo trust in Florida, demanding the money be turned over immediately.
It also filed suit in Orange County, Calif., asking the court to either hand over the money to the foundation or force Mrs. Cox, who lives in New York, to sign an agreement putting the money under the foundation board's control.
"We're simply now asking the court to send the money out to California, and we're asking the California court to break the logjam here," said foundation attorney Robert Landon.
Mr. Rebozo's attorneys, however, said their client's intent was clear.
"What he intended was to have those three individuals control the use of the funds," attorney Oscar Canabas said.
Although home to Mr. Nixon's pre- and post-presidential work, the library does not house his presidential papers, which were seized after his resignation. As a result, the library does not receive federal funding.
Mrs. Eisenhower, who lives in Pennsylvania, said the Rebozo money would give the library a stable endowment and make it less reliant on raising money from an aging pool of donors.
"I can't imagine that we all can't work it out," she said.


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