SIMI VALLEY — The last of Ronald Reagan's longtime political associates has quit the board that built Reagan's presidential library, expressing disappointment that other close advisers squeezed out this year would not be reappointed.
In a letter to the former President, former Energy Secretary John S. Herrington resigned from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation that raised $60 million for the library near Simi Valley.
Herrington was the only longtime Reagan associate spared last April when former U.S. Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III, former Interior Secretary William P. Clark and former domestic policy adviser Martin Anderson were quietly dropped from the board.
Disgruntled loyalists, who requested anonymity, contend that their ouster was orchestrated by Nancy Reagan without the knowledge of the former President. Reagan has denied it, remarking at one point that "this is part of the picking on Nancy that goes on."
In the Dec. 19 resignation letter obtained by The Times on Tuesday, Herrington told Reagan he hoped these three loyalists would be reappointed. But, he wrote, if "they are gone from the Reagan Foundation Board for good, and I now realized that is your intent, I must go also."
"Bill, Ed, and Marty are my friends, and no President ever had stronger supporters than these three," Herrington wrote. "I'm sure you can understand my feelings of loyalty to them, Mr. President."
Neither the Reagans, nor their spokeswoman could be reached for comment Tuesday. Reagan Foundation Board Chairman Lodwrick M. Cook was vacationing out of the country and unavailable for comment, said Scott Loll, a spokesman for Cook, who is also chairman and chief executive officer of Arco.
In an interview in October, Cook said the three board members were released in April because their six-year terms had expired. He said the former President asked him to limit all members to one term to bring new faces to the board and broaden support for the library.
Herrington's term also expired, but Cook said he asked him to stay on as treasurer to maintain continuity of the books until the foundation reached its goal of raising $75 million to pay off debts and launch a conservative think tank.
On Nov. 4, nearly all the Reagan library--with its 55 million pages of White House documents and public museum--was turned over to the National Archives during a dedication ceremony that featured a historic meeting of President George Bush and four living former presidents.
The foundation has retained control of a suite of offices for the Reagans, foundation staff, and the proposed think tank to be called the Ronald Reagan Center for Public Affairs.
Herrington's departure leaves the foundation board without any member of the Reagan Administration except for Frederick Ryan, who was Reagan's White House scheduler and is now Reagan's chief of staff.