Leadership - Not Compromise!
With Relevant Documentation and Opinion
September 19, 2002 version
Dirty Politics? | Emerling v. Marrou | Committee for a Libertarian Majority | LNC/Staff Favoritism | Arizona Libertarian Party | LNC v. Tamara Clark | Lawsuit v. Gene Cisewski | Fundraising Hype | Tuniewicz Resignation | Ethics Amendment | Willis Admits Lying | War Hawks Dominate LNC | Political Obtuseness | Strategic Plan Schmerl Proposal | Cloud-Howell-Israel/New Libertarians | Winter/Dasbach Resign | Carol Moore's LIBERTY Article on 2002 Convention
(CLOUD)'S ATTACKS ON ANDRE MARROU
Michael Emerling (now Cloud) is a well-connected speaker and professional fundraiser. As Chief of Staff for 1992 Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Andre Marrou, Emerling reported to the LNC in early 1991 that Marrou was engaging in financial fraud and should be removed as the LP candidate. Perry Willis had previously criticized Marrou for not doing things Willis' (and evidently Emerling's) way.
LNC members interviewed Marrou for several hours asking him detailed questions and found that he was experiencing some financial difficulties and that there may have been some misunderstanding about use of a credit card but nothing to justify dropping him as the Presidential candidate. However, Emerling kept attacking Marrou, even sharing his accusations with anti-party groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus, to the extent that even Steve Givot was called him an "enemy of the party." This attempt to unseat the Presidential candidate because he would not do it "their way" is typical of the Willis/Emerling-Cloud modus operandi that would continue through the years. See April 1992 Chair report and e-mails. See also San Francisco Chronicle.
FOR LIBERTARIAN MAJORITY" ATTEMPTS TO IMPOSE STRATEGY
The Committee for a Libertarian Majority ("CLM") was formed in 1992 by a number of LNC members, including (circa 2002) current LNC member Steve Givot and current staffers Ron Crickenberger and Steve Dasbach. It met secretly in Atlanta in early December, 1992, one week before the December 1992 LNC Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. It adopted a detailed Mission Statement and plan which it "sprung" on the National Committee and passed with little discussion. Much of the content was non-controversial, but the call for eliminating the membership certification and turning the platform in to a vague, short term program sparked controversy.
However, the 1993 National Convention squashed the Committee for a Libertarian Majority's plans; the group dissolved soon after. A "Dump Givot" campaign resulted in Steve Givot being defeated in his bid to be voted back on the LNC. However, other LNC members were re-elected, including Steve Dasbach as Chair of the party. In 1998 Platform Committee member Givot convinced the committee to consider a streamlined platform that deleted references to abolishing significant laws and agencies. His efforts resulted in some minor streamlining that effectively prevented the Convention from making some important updatess. It annoyed me so much that I ran against him for Secretary--he beat me by only 37 votes on the second ballot. See CLM Goals, Strategies, Bylaws Changes and relevant E-mail Debates.
DASBACH REPLACES GENE CISEWSKI WITH PERRY WILLIS AS NATIONAL DIRECTOR
In the September of 1993 new LNC Chair Steve Dasbach selected experienced activist Gene Cisewski to be the new National Director. Dasbach hired Arizona resident Perry Willis as temporary Interim Director while Cisewski wrapped up his affairs in Wisconsin. As John Famularo documents on his timeline web page, Cisewski was on the job barely a month when Dasbach fired him by memo and hired Perry Willis--who had just finished moving all his personal possessions and his girlfriend to DC. While a Bill Winter memo painted a sorry picture of Gene's efforts, many believe Dasbach and/or Willis were intent on making Willis National Director, no matter what Cisewski's qualifications. See Perry's summary of his views on this, a defacto resume promoting his own candidacy. (When Willis resigned several years later it was discovered Dasbach had signed a secret contract with him assuring him severance pay and moving expenses even if he resigned.)
This incident sparked an ongoing rivalry between Gene Cisewski and the "partyarch's." Cisewski went on to form the Liberty Council Political Action Committee, work for several high profile campaigns, become chair of the Libertarian Party of DC, as well as Coordinator of an active and semi-independent Council of State Chairs. He twice ran energetic campaigns for LNC Chair, against Steve Dasbach and then David Bergland.
FAVORITISM/CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS REGARDING PRESIDENTIAL AND PARTY
Individuals as varied as Rick Thompkins, Richard Cowan, Gene Cisewski, and Jacob Hornberger have charged that LNC, and especially staff members, made it clear to them in various subtle, and not so subtle, ways that their competing with favored candidates was not welcome. This is a thread running through several of the incidents described below. Jacob Hornberger has a number of web page articles about this and related controversies at http://www.jacobghornberger.com/ Harry Browne has finally replied to these and other charges in his own "Controversy" page. Hornberger also replies to Browne.
In summer of 1994 Richard Cowan of NORML, tax protester Irwin Schiff and Harry Browne announced they would be seeking the 1996 Libertarian Party presidential nomination. Rick Tompkins announced the next spring. (Browne seems to have been brought in by the discredited Michael Emerling Cloud, who kept a low profile on his involvement before turning the campaign over to LNC member Sharon Ayres. He came back in as a fundraiser later in the campaign.)
Some alleged prejudice against non-favored candidates. Richard Cowan quit, claiming Willis' attitude made him feel he would not get fair treatment. Tompkins alleged the national office seriously delayed sending him delegate labels. But favoritism towards Harry Browne was the main complaint. First, Perry Willis proposed the national office provide services for pre-nomination campaigns and immediately arranged at least two receptions for Harry Browne. Steve Dasbach allowed Perry Willis and Communications Director Bill Winter to do paid work for Harry Browne. When the LNC moved that such work could be done only with the LNC's approval, Willis started doing so secretly since he felt he would be forced to chose between working for Browne or the party. (More details of this incident below.) Complete time-line at John Famularo's web page.
In the spring of 1998 Jacob Hornberger proposed that the 1998 LP Convention pass a new bylaw that would prohibit Libertarian Party candidates paying cash or gifts, both before and after nomination, to members of the Libertarian Party National Committee, the national Libertarian Party staff or their close relatives for consulting, advising, fundraising, managing, etc. any national presidential political campaign. Ken Bisson, Chair of the By-Laws Committee, led the charge against the amendment. The Convention did not pass the bylaw amendment; members believed that disclosures of conflicts of interest was sufficient to prevent problems. See Hornberger's Great Bylaws Debate page as well as further details below.
According to Famularo's web page, staffers also tried to influence the election of party officers. Before the 1996 National Convention national staffers Perry Willis and Bill Winter, counter to the Policy Manual, circulated a statement that they would quit if Gene Cisewski was elected Chair of the national party. After member complaints about this, staffers were more circumspect in opposed Cisewski in 1998. Staffers Kris Williams and Dan Smith distributed Bergland for Chair literature and trashed Cisewski to delegates, claiming, among other things, that he would fire all the current staffers if elected, something which would disrupt operations. In 1998 one staff member trashed Cisewski to me personally and recommended I vote for David Bergland. However, as soon as I announced for Secretary, staff members refused to discuss anything about the races with me, claiming that it would be a "conflict of interest"! Bergland won and made Steve Dasbach his new National Director.
In March of 1999 LNC Treasurer Mark Tuniewicz reported on LPUS he had gotten reports that an unnamed presidential candidate (assumedly Browne or his operatives) was trying to get state chairs to "put unusual restrictions on who they will allow to speak as presidential hopefuls at their state conventions." See the e-mail, plus a list of other complaints. Later that year LNC member Ken Bisson proposed that no presidential candidate be listed on the LP web site unless they paid $2,000 to the Libertarian Party; the proposal was not passed. In 1999 some members also complained that the national office was using Harry Browne's 1996 campaign book as a premium for contributions made to the LP. They felt it promoted Browne, who everyone assumed was certain to run for the year 2000 nomination.
Jacob Hornberger, who announced in April of 1999 that he was forming an exploratory committee to run for President in 2000, began making the same claim. Harry Browne stated he did not receive any money from the sale of the book. On May 28, 1999 Chair David Bergland ruled: "The use of Harry Browne's book as a premium for contributions, whether for Archimedes mailings or otherwise, is completely proper until such time that Harry Browne announces that he is seeking the Party's nomination as its presidential candidate. The National Director [Steve Dasbach] is authorized to exercise his judgment on whether or not to use the book for that purpose and in what manner."
Two weeks later, Hornberger abandoned his exploratory committee sighting "irreconcilable conflicts of interest between his duties as President of the Future Freedom Foundation, and those of being a political candidate." Some believe Hornberger genuinely felt that the cards were stacked against him and running was a waste of time.
Harry Browne did not formally announce until February of 2000, during which time the LP staff was free to continue distributing his book to new contributors. Don Gorman ran against Browne, as did Jacob Hornberger who inexplicably revived his presidential campaign a few days before the 2000 convention.
One allegation of LNC-related interference with Browne competitors is that Massachusetts Chair Elias Israel, who became an LNC reprsentative in spring of 2000, announced at the the December 1999 LNC meeting that he opposed putting libertarians who didn't meet certain criteria running against Harry Browne in the Massachusetts primary--a privilege granted to him by the State of Massachusetts. One criteria, which he exercised against Don Gorman, was that they had to be national party members, which Gorman was not. Even though Gorman quickly joined the national party, and was assured by Massachusetts activists he would be put on the ballot, he did not end up on the ballot. (December 1999 LNC Mintues and two recent e-mails shed light on this story.)
As we shall see in the New Libertarians section, many feel some LNC members and staff members (especially LPNEWS, in its articles and advertising polilcy, have been promoting Carla Howell as the 2004 candidate ever since the year 2000 convention and election. In December, 2001 the LNC formalized the Duties of the Political Director to include preferential treatment of state candidates with pre-nomination aid "with the express written permission of the state chair." Needlesstosay, many worry this will give the LNC and national staffers power to reward cronies and punish critics. (See LNC draft minutes.)
THE ETHICS AMENDMENT
The 1998 Libertarian Party Convention rejected Jacob Hornberger's new bylaw that would prohibit Libertarian Party candidates paying cash or gifts, both before and after nomination, to members of the Libertarian Party National Committee, the national Libertarian Party staff or their close relatives for any national presidential political campaign work. However, Hornberger for an LNC Policy Manual amendment that would submit the LNC to the same ethical constraints that the LNC had imposed on its subordinates.
In an April 2001 e-mail Hornberger discusses not only the personal attacks on him for filing his request for an amendment to the LNC Policy Manual, but what seems to have been a dirty trick pulled on him. Sometime after the 1998 national LP convention, LNC Alternate Barbara Goushaw approached Hornberger and said she might consider supporting him over Harry Browne as the year 2000 Presidential candidate. Goushaw later arranged a speech during his visit to Michigan. In both cases, he reminded her of his position on LNC neutrality in pre-nomination races. Nevertheless, in 1999, after Hornberger announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, Goushaw sent him a $600 check. He promptly returned her original check for $600 to her.
Nevertheless, as part of her LNC Campaign Finance Disclosure Statement, Goushaw claimed receiving "payments totaling $600.00 from the following LP candidates, their staff, organizations, or campaign-related third-party entities: Jacob Hornberger for President." Steve Givot, who Hornberger claims is the "most vociferous opponent of the Ethics Amendment and of the Request for Financial Disclosure," was quick to jump on Hornberger, writing in a critical e-mail: "As a presidential nomination contender, Mr. Hornberger hired LNC member Barbara Goushaw and paid her $600 to work for his campaign to win the LP presidential nomination. That also violates the ethical standards that Mr. Hornberger publicly embraces."
Hornberger discusses the effect of such obvious tricks and intimidation tactics: "There are of course some people whose integrity is impeccable serving on the LNC. What are the chances that they would call for a censor of Goushaw and Givot for their deceitful and malicious misconduct against a member of the Libertarian Party? None, because the good and honest people on the LNC are terrified that Goushaw and Givot (and others like them on the LNC) will do this sort of thing to them!"
In another e-mail, Hornberger claims that his Amendment was discussed at the April 21, 2001 LNC Meeting in Washington, DC. However, the still Draft Minutes on the site, done by Secretary Steve Givot, of course, make no mention of this. Hornberger wrote: "My sources on the LNC advise me that for some reason, LNC Secretary Steven I. Givot intends to delay for several weeks the posting of the minutes of this particular meeting on the LNC meeting archive web site: http://archive.lp.org/lnc However, this is a run-down of what I think took place, based on what I have learned from reliable sources. 1. The LNC chose not to take any vote on the Ethics Amendment, which means, of course, that no one can determine where individual LNC members publicly stand on the issue. However, a reliable source on the LNC advised me that there were three LNC members who were fiercely leading the fight against the Ethics Amendment behind the scenes before the meeting: Steve Givot, Colorado, who is current LNC Secretary; Ken Bisson, Indiana, who reputedly wants to be LNC Vice-Chairman in 2002; and Elias Israel, Massachusetts, who reputedly wants to be LNC National Chairman in 2002."
INTERFERENCE IN ARIZONA DISPUTE
In the early 1990s the Arizona Libertarian Party ("LPAZ") experienced deep divisions. One faction, led by Peter Schmerl and Michael Emerling Cloud supported taking government campaign funds and backed Harry Browne. Another, more "hard-core" faction opposed taking such funds and backed Rick Tompkins.
Opponents charge the Schmerl/Cloud faction first tried to take over the Arizona party in 1995 by taking advantage of the fact the LPAZ had long acted outside of compliance with Arizona law on electing party officers. He and his allies formed a party that would comply with these laws, Arizona Libertarian Party, Inc. ("ALP, Inc."). As soon as Schmerl's party got it's official state file number and statement of organization, he wrote to the LPAZ's bank on his attorney letter head and asked them to turn the money over to him, effectively embezzling it. The LPAZ raised hell, got their money back--but was too kind hearted to charge him with embezzlment or complain to the Arizona Bar Association. (Which many of them later regretted.)
Schmerl then proposed "reconciliation" at the next LPAZ convention. But he tried to pack the convention by using disputed proxies and by registering Republicans as libertarians . When this attempted takeover failed, Schmerl launched law suit after law suit demanding the state of Arizona stop recognizing LPAZ because it was out of compliance with the law.
While the LNC originally supported LPAZ, Schmerl and Cloud's cronies on the LNC continued lobbying for the LNC to disaffiliate LPAZ and designate the ALP, Inc. the affiliate party. Eventually they accomplished this in 1999 through an LNC decision that a mail ballot of national members would decide which state to affiliate. However, because LPAZ did not join the Unified Membership Plan ("UMP"), many of its members were not members of national. Moreover, there are charges that Schmerl enrolled a number of non-libertarian Republicans in the party for the purpose of voting for ALP, Inc. The Schmerl faction and ALP, Inc. won the mail ballot. Disgusted by these voting irregularities and the LNC, the LPAZ decided not to appeal to the Judiciary Committee.
George Phillies in his book Funding Liberty points out that the LP bylaws specific parties can only be disaffiliated "for cause." A break off faction declaring it is the "real" party is hardly sufficient cause and the LNC may have encouraged more such splits in the future through its actions.
Nevertheless, a lower court found in favor of LPAZ as the official party, which gave it the right to choose the year 2000 Presidential candidate. The LPAZ offered to make Harry Browne their candidate, contingent upon receiving an apology from the LNC. The LNC refused and instead spent $130,000 trying to get Harry Browne on the ballot, even though they petitioned after the deadline. They hoped an Arizona court would support their effort, but the court refused to do so. Harry Browne was not on the ballot in Arizona in 2000.
The ALP, Inc. continued its lawsuits until the Arizona Supreme Court agreed that the LPAZ's failure to follow state law invalidated its claim. That left ALP, Inc. free to try to gain ballot status as the recognized affiliate, since many of the "hard core" Arizona libertarians do not want to dance to the state's tune. Dozens of activists left the party over this and new activists suffer from the continuing division. See links to LNC meeting decisions, chronologies of Schmerl embezzlement and other acts, statements from LNC and LPAZ members and part of the Appeal Court opinion depriving LPAZ of state recognition as the official party, other links.
Tamara Clark, a two time state chair and former LNC member, had been an extremely effective and high profile libertarian candidate in Nevada. Clark had received some financial aid from the LNC in 1994 for two Nevada campaigns, both of which she had to suspend due to major party interference and personal problems. When she moved to Arizona she ended up on the wrong side of the Arizona schism. (She served as State Chair in both states.) The Schmerl cronies on the LNC demanded Clark give a detailed accounting of the money. She claims it had not asked this before of others who received money. Clark refused, explaining that some of her vendors were doing business without a license and she feared the AZP, Inc. faction, which had snitched to the state of Arizona on LPAZ libertarian's refusal to obey state law, would similarly snitch on her vendors. At the April, 1995 LNC voted to censure Clark for this failure to report. See Clark's side of the story.
LAWSUIT AGAINST GENE CISEWSKI
Gene Cisewski challenged the "partyarchs" in his races for Chair in 1996 and 1998. During 1997 and 1998 he also did a number of mailings in his work for the high profile Murray Sabrin and Steve Kubby campaigns and for the Liberty Council. He was one of the few people who seriously challenged the Cloud/Willis campaign and fundraising machine.
After Cisewski lost the July 1998 Chair race, LP staffers charged he had made unauthorized use of Libertarian Party data bases which he previously had rented. The listing of evidence of unapproved uses in the attorney's chronology is not very impressive. (That the final out-of-court settlement included large penalties should Cisewski publicly challenge the validity of the "evidence," leads one to further suspect the evidence. Moreover, it did not forbid him from renting LP state mailing lists, which usually include all of the national party members.)
In mid-November a party representative informed Cisweski of the "circumstantial evidence." He replied, claiming the problem was "either due to the LNC's incompetence in maintaining its 'seeds' or fabricated for political reasons," according to the LNC's attorney's chronology. A few days later the Libertarian National Committee voted unanimously to pursue legal action against him. Cisewski's failure to respond adequately did not help his case and gave the party an excuse to refuse to engage in binding arbitration when he requested it.
In early 2000 Cisewski settled out of court for $1,000 immediately and $10,000 after five years. The lawsuit cost the Libertarian Party $48,000 in attorney's fees and, doubtless, a number of disgusted member failures to renews. Many people still think this was a trumped up case, or over-reaction to a Cisewski staffer's error and that the partyarchs took advantage of this to try to destroy a challenger.
While Cisewski did take a break from the party, as of April 2002 he was actively working on the Ed Thompson for Governor campaign in Wisconsin and had just been elected to the Iron County, Wisconsin, Board of Supervisors after defeating a 4-term incumbent by capturing more than 60% of the vote. See the LNC attorney's listing of facts and the final settlement agreement.
SIX YEARS OF CLOUD-WILLIS-BROWNE FUNDRAISING HYPE CAUSE CYNICISM
A number of members have complained that the Cloud-Willis-Browne modus operandi over six years of fundraising consisted of big and exciting promises which raised large amounts of money that paid campaign staffers generously, without producing anything like the promised results. Former big contributor Mike Nixson listed a number of such examples in a 1997 letter.
March 1995: "Our Plan to force Clinton to demand LP inclusion in the 1996 TV debates"Particularly criticized was the Browne Campaign's April 2000 announcement it had suspended its campaign for financial reasons--which it blamed on Jacob Hornberger's criticisms, including in letters to Browne contributors. However, money poured in and Browne re-started his campaign.
May 1995: "Our plan to get 5% of the primary vote in New Hampshire. $270,000 in TV ads"
July 1995: "Our plan to use the City Vote to achieve national publicity"
Sept 1995: " Our plan to distribute 6 million flyers to City Vote voters"
October 1995: "Our plan to get Harry Browne's book on the New York Times best seller list"
Feb 1996: "Our plan to produce a professional and powerful National TV ad and recruit 100's of CEOs"
March 1996: "Our plan to get into the 1996 TV debates" by convincing the Federal Debate Commission (to let Harry Debate)
June 1996: "Our plan to get double digits in national election polls"
August 1996: "Our new plan to get into the TV debates using talk show endorsements and radio ads"
October 1996: "Our plan to "saturate" CNN with TV ads and to produce a professional 30 minute video or TV ad placement"
OF LNC TREASURER MARK TUNIEWICZ
In March, 2001 two term LNC Treasurer Mark A. Tuniewicz resigned effective April 21, 2001, the date of the upcoming LNC meeting. He also revoked his membership certification ("the pledge") and canceled his life membership in the Libertarian Party. His doing so forced the National Committee to accept his resignation since the Libertarian Party Bylaws require that officers must be members of the party.
Tuniewicz promised to give an official explanation, but never did so. He did around that time send an e-mail to LPUS complaining about the staff's consistent refusal to give him timely financial reports. This despite new LNC chair Jim Lark's loosening the restrictions David Bergland had placed on Tuniewicz' "interfacing directly with the staff and/or the accountants and/or the FEC consultants," as John Famularo put it, Another National Committee member speculated Tuniewicz worried that the Internal Revenue Service might soon find irregularities in LP reporting for which Tuniewicz would be legally responsible if he remained Treasurer. However, in September, 2002, when National Director Steve Dasbach gave his resignation after new Chair Geoff Neale and re-motivated Treasurer Deryl Martin discovered definitive financial irregularities, Tuniewicz sent another post reminding everyone: "In April of 2001, I expressed grave concerns to the National Director and the LNC over financial reporting issues. Much of the reports I'd been requesting had to do with accounts receivable, which from the recent minutes I see have not been properly booked & reported since after I left. The national director's lengthy response cited his lack of awareness that a problem existed." See relevant e-mails from Tuniewicz, Famularo, Lark and others.
LYING TO LNC ABOUT BROWNE WORK IN 1995-96
Jacob Hornberger and others continued to hammer away at Willis-Browne conflicts of interest based on the evidence revealed 1995-96. Given no new evidence, most people (including myself) felt it was a closed issue. However, even as the LNC debated in the fall of 2000 and early 2001 whether to join on to Harry Browne's new effort, RealCampaignReform.org, a lobbying effort and law suit to abolish the Federal Election Commission, questions continued about the campaign's poor performance and whether this lawsuit was just another fundraising venture. (See Jacob Hornberger's The Great FEC Fundraising Caper and Browne's Controversy page.)
That debate became irrelevant, however, when John Famularo distributed to the April, 2001 LNC meeting a copy of a February, 1996 invoice Perry Willis had sent Browne friend Jack Dean for work done on fundraising letters for the Harry Browne campaign. Willis sent it to Dean so the LNC would not discover he was working for Browne behind the LNC's back. (Famularo found the invoice on LP computer files he had access to during work for the party, as he explains in an e-mail. He held it back in part because it was evidence that Willis and Browne had committed felonies, including conspiracy, in causing the Browne Campaign and Libertarian National Committee to file false campaign and IRS reports.)
Surprisingly, a month later Perry Willis issued a 20-page "confession" admitting that he conspired with the Brown campaign to work for it secretly and claiming he did it for the good of the Libertarian Party. Harry Browne admitted in a private an e-mail to former Chair Mary Gingell knowing and approving of Willis' actions.
The Libertarian National Committee launched an investigation, despite the best efforts of LNC members Ken Bisson and Elias Israel to hamper its effectiveness. (Draft minutes of the meeting went up on the LNC minutes web page only in mid-February 2002.) In an unofficial report, LNC member Joe Dehn revealed soon after the meeting they included: "censuring Perry Willis for doing this work and for denying it; prohibiting employment of or contracting with Willis or organizations controlled by him for five years; requiring that other organizations with which Willis is associated be treated as external organizations when renting the mailing list or advertising in LP News; declaring the matter closed unless additional evidence is presented; admonishing Harry Browne and Jack Dean for their participation; calling on Browne, Sharon Ayres, David Bergland, Michael Cloud, and Jack Dean to denounce Willis' violation of policy; rescinding the approval for LNC participation in Browne's proposed lawsuit against the FEC censure Perry Willis; limiting his ability to use the LP mailing list and LPNEWS advertising."
As I detail on the New Libertarians page, Elias Israel derided the investigatory efforts and opposed strong sanctions against Willis, Browne and their associates. As reported in Liberty Magazine, Michael Cloud refused to cooperate with the investigation and characterized the affair as a petty inquisition and "star chamber proceedings."
See full R.W. Bradford timeline and report and John Famularo's Timeline web site for full details. See Gingell-Browne exchange, Famularo's explanation for delaying release of the incriminating document, Joe Dehn's understanding of the decision reached, and comments of Steve Kubby. Harry Browne includes comments on this incident in his "Controversy" page.
AND PRO-STATE OF ISRAEL HAWKS DOMINATE LNC
At the August of 2001 LNC meeting in Las Vegas, two LNC members put forth a resolution that given escalating conflict in Middle East nations, the LNC should reiterate the Libertarian Party's position that military aid and troops should be withdrawn from the region. (One of them had asked me to write it, per debates on the LPUS discussion list.) LNC member Elias Israel charged that the proposal seemed to him to be "anti-Jewish" and he was "a little offended." Member Ben Scherry stated he disagreed with the LP's non-interventionist position and that the United States had a duty to protect Israel which would be destroyed without America's help. After these heavy intimidation tactics, the resolution gained only 3 votes out of 18 members. (See Georgianna Geyer's article "Pro-Israeli, Anti-Arab Campaigns Could Isolate America.")
At the October 14th LNC meeting Elias Israel, touting the support of Ken Bisson, proposed (even as he assured members he wouldn't "force" it on them) that the LNC support the U.S. government taking "forceful action against terrorists." The resolution passed with no "no" votes and only one abstention. It included the controversial statements: "Such criminals must be rooted out and destroyed before more innocent people die. Their training camps and weapons must be eliminated. Their supply infrastructure must be shattered." It also noted: "Every precaution must be taken to minimize injury or death to innocent civilians and non-combatants -- in Afghanistan and in other nations."
This statement obviously supports the U.S. government bombing any part of any nation where those suspected of terrorist connections or intent are living, working or passing through--and without a Constitutional declaration of war, which our platform clearly calls for. Many libertarians felt that the resolution, and some related press releases and other statements from the national office, violate the Libertarian Party Principles and Platform by supporting an unconstitutional war, undermining our claim to be a principled non-interventionist party. Angry libertarians immediately formed two different list serves which quickly merged into Libertarians for Peace.
At the December 2001 meeting longtime LNC member Joe Dehn proposed a non-intervention resolution. The hawks voted this one down as well with 9 "no" votes. This time there were three "yes" and five abstain votes. For full details of the relevant resolutions and notes and quotes from the LNC debates go to the articles section of the Libertarians for Peace web site. See also Carol Moore's article on Middle East Issues and Emotions.
EMBARASSING POLITICAL OBTUSENESS AND PANDERING
The national Libertarian Party's main outreach leaftet--the "New Political Party" leaflet--is typical of the misleading and amateurish quality of too much of what comes out of the national office. (One wonders how many people are surprised to learn what seems to be a "new political party" is 30 years old!) I am sure everyone has their favorite embarrassing national party story, be it something at a national convention or seen in a mailing, LPNEWS or a press release read over the Internet. I personally remember the minor controversy at the 1998 Convention where well known anti-Semite Willis Carto's Liberty Lobby had both a table and a full page advertisement for their often lurid publication The Spotlight in the convention's official handbook. Staffers explained it was their "free speech right."
National staffers must embarrass celebrities who join the party with the front page stories in LPNEWS their photos splashed on the fold over address page. Some high profile members even find their photographs have been used on the envelopes of LP fundraising letters! I still cringe when I think of the photo of African-American activist Roy Innis dancing across the front of one envelope.
Staffers also seemed to be totally politically obtuse when they gave front page coverage to Jewish Defense League ("JDL") head Irv Rubin joining the party in 2000. Savvy political activists know that JDL members had been imprisoned for bombings in the 1970s and linked to bombings and even murder, including in Rubin's home town Los Angeles, in the 1980s; one member committed mass murder of Palestinians at a Mosque in Israel in 1994. A simple Internet search would have revealed these facts. As well as JDL's statement on its web page: "JDL upholds the principle of Barzel -- iron -- the need to both move to help Jews everywhere and to change the Jewish image through sacrifice and all necessary means -- even strength, force and violence." Well-known writers Justin Raimondo and Lew Rockwell immediately excoriated the LP for boasting about Rubin's membership.
In summer of 2001, when Rubin started talking about running for Congress or California Governor as a libertarian, several libertarians raised a ruckus, despite accusations of anti-Semitism by a couple of California libertarians. I myself put up an Irv Rubin/JDL "expose" web page linked to my larger article on leftist activist violence titled The Return of Street Fighting Man.
It is unknown if these critiques influenced Rubin's decision on running for office. However, it looks like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks may have convinced him to turn (or return) to terrorism. In December, 2001 the FBI arrested Rubin and Earl Leslie Krugel on charges of planning to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, CA and the field office of Congressional Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA). Allegedly an informant who became alarmed at the plans alerted the FBI who taped conversations about such plans. Rubin and Krugel were indicted in January 2002 and charged with conspiracy, conspiracy to use a destructive device, attempted arson, attempted arson of a United States government facility, possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence and solicitation to commit a crime of violence. If convicted both face life in prison. Rubin claims he was "set up" but the national staff has not come to his defense.
Finally, in writing and distributing press releases, the national Libertarian Party seems to adhere to the philosophy that if you can't make news, you can at least make jokes. The titles of some of its more infamous joke press releases include: "Five good reasons why Saddam Hussein should have been Speaker of the House," "Libertarians urge: Pull the plug on silly Alabama law that bans vibrators," "News from the future: Jenna Bush launches another airstrike on Iraq," "Gin-Soaked Jenna Bush. Her problem is not the boozing; it's a power-drunk federal government," "Why we should say 'Cell No!' to new laws banning cell phone use in cars," and "Government should end its jihad against Indian sports team names."
Of course, the subject matter of some are verge on the offensive, such as: "Why rapists will love the anti-gun agenda of Sunday's Million Mom March," "Bureaucrats' outrageous new claim: Higher beer taxes prevent gonorrhea," and "Proposed law in Mississippi would (ahem) get a grip on public priapism." [Note: priapism means male sexual erection] The emphasis on sex jokes make the press releases sometimes quite puerile! Can the press take seriously any organization that issues such press releases?
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, but before the October 14 pro-war resolution, Libertarian Party press releases were sensible and libertarian. One was titled "Frightening numbers: 49% in new survey support 'special IDs' for Arab-Americans." After the October 14th National Committee pro-war resolution some press releases began to parrot President Bush's blatant pandering to patriotism and fear--and went further, even displaying blatant anti-Arab sentiment. Titles include: "Let's cut off tax funding for colleges that prohibit showing the American flag," "Repeal gun control laws that leave us defenseless against evil terrorists," "Why did police arrest 734,498 pot-smokers, instead of tracking murderous terrorists?", "Unbelievable: EEOC forces airport security to hire foreign Arabs from terrorist nations." (Could staff have been trying to please pro-state of Israel hawk and Chair "front runner" Elias Israel?) See particularly obnoxious excerpts from some of these press releases. Or go to the LP's national press release list.
In April and May 2002 the LP sent out two press releases ostensibly calling for the US to withdraw from the middle east and for the US to end the war on terrorism. However, these points were made only after six or seven paragraphs of veritable rants about terrorism in Israel! (See April 4 and May 1 releases.)
In contrast, see the solid press release the Libertarian Party put out after the 1998 national Convention passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. (Those who proposed the resolution told me my call for such action during my Secretary nomination speech before the 1998 Convention inspired them.) Since the LP was the first party to call for Clinton's impeachment, it actually made news and received concomitant national publicity.
THE "STRATEGIC PLAN" IS BEING USED AS A "NEW LIBERTARIAN" POWER PLAY
Strategic planning to set goals and plan strategies and tactics to achieve them is a necessary part of any organizations functioning. The Libertarian National Committee has engaged in such short term planning over the years. However, one must wonder if the "Strategic Plan" initiated in early 2001 and approved at the December, 2001 LNC meeting is merely another "Committee for a Libertarian Majority"--like attempt by Steve Givot, Michael Cloud, Elias Israel and their allies to gut the Libertarian Party platform and to pass Bylaws that might entrench their personal control of a majoritarian-oriented party.
The Strategic Planning process was initiated by Steve Givot who also facilitated the series of meetings. Needlesstosay, many people doubted his ability to be a neutral facilitator. Elias Israel's repeated appeals for closed Strategic Planning Committee meetings, which members would be barred from witnessing, caused controversy. The first meeting was conducted secretly but outcry from members ensured the rest were open. See the final Strategic Plan report.
Even if Steve Givot was a neutral facilitator during the Strategic Planning process, there is no doubt that now that it is over it is back to "politics as usual" for Givot. A few weeks before the December LNC meeting he grilled me repeatedly via e-mail, blind cc-ing LNC members, on whether I, as a candidate for the Platform Committee, was willing to follow to a tee the mandate of the Strategic Plan. At the December LNC meeting Steve Givot stated confidently that the 2002 Convention could suspend the rules and adopt some or all of the new platform he envisions. And he twice talked about the need for a Bylaw to allow the LNC to expel people from the national party. This makes one wonder just how Givot and friends intend to enforce the most controversial aspects of the Strategic Plan.
The Strategic Plan's final six goals themselves are non-controversial. However, several strategies have potential for great mischief if they are used by factions in a controlling way to downplay principles or discourage activism:
#3: If "redevelop the LP platform, presenting both direction and destination" means deleting references to the laws, taxes and programs we would repeal and stressing interim positions, it could demoralize principled libertarians, especially if those who want to run campaigns on more radical platforms are discouraged from doing so.LNC At-Large member Lois Kaneshiki, in an article entitled The LNC’s Strategic Plan -- What Went Wrong, criticizes the process. She believes the LNC exceeded its authority in coming up with a plan to change the platform and bylaws -- a criticism also made of Committee for a Libertarian Majority. She believes the LNC wasted "$93,000 and six and a half weekends spent in hotel rooms" to come with a plan that is basically a “'let’s do more' version of what is already being done." She believes the LP has not "decided if we want to recruit members, sell our philosophy, or get Libertarians in office. It is not at all obvious that we can do each of these things at the same time, or that we should continue to try."
#5: "Codifying" relationships between the national and state parties could become divisive if it means a contract forcing states to accept a Presidential candidate who they believe did not live up to libertarian standards; such a contract could attract well financed quasi-libertarian candidates who know they only have to win the biggest states and the rest would be forced to accept the candidate.
#8: "Target races and allocate resources for maximum effectiveness" and "coordinate campaign activities within and among campaign levels" could have a demoralizing affect if the national staff uses its money and power to convince state parties to accept national's preferred candidates, despite any contrary desire of local activists. The LP will never raise funds like the Demopublicans and need our grass roots activists.
#18: "Focus resources to achieve the repeal of drug prohibition" could become a problem if it was done more on the bidding of well-heeled drug legalization contributors than LP members or if too many members or potential candidates become annoyed by the focus on that issue See related e-mails;
#19: "Develop an awareness that political success requires adequate resources of all sorts" could become a problem if it means that members or candidates with money use it as an excuse to disrespect the efforts of those who contribute substantial time and energy.
LNC TO TURN
"LIBERTARIAN PARTY" OVER TO PETER SCHMERL?
As we have seen, Arizona Libertarian Party, Inc. Chair Peter is quite willing to use misrepresentation, lawsuits and cronyism to get his way. Therefore many libertarians were suspicious when one of Schmerl's friends put forth a proposal at the March, 2002 LNC meeting that effectively would have given Peter Schmerl full control of the use of the name "Libertarian Party." Called the "Resolution Granting Use of the Name Libertarian Party to The Libertarian Party Foundation" -- the resolution read in relevant part: Libertarian National Committee, Inc. hereby grants perpetual use of the registered trademark "Libertarian Party" to Peter G. Schmerl, his successors and assigns, in his capacity as incorporator of the Libertarian Party Foundation, provided such foundation is granted 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service and so long as such status is maintained, and provided such foundation creates and maintains bylaw provisions making the Chairman of the LNC an automatic ex officio member of the foundation's board of directors by virtue of his office with all the rights and privileges given every other member of its board;
Given Schmerl's propensity to use law suits to get his way, it is easy to see how he might have interpreted this as meaning Schmerl now enjoyed possession of the name Libertarian Party for ALL uses and not just his one approved one, as long as he went along with other provisions. He thereby could license use of the name for someone who wanted to set up the Libertarian Party Lobby or the Libertarian Party PAC. And it could cost the LP tens of the thousands of dollars to disprove this.
At the meeting some members argued that according to the Bylaws the party could not confer ownership of the name on anyone for any other purpose. According to Joe Dehn, "There seemed to be a lot of sentiment that the whole thing had been sprung on us without sufficient preparation and without time to investigate all of the implications -- and a particular concern that our General Counsel had not had a chance to review the proposal -- and so there was a reluctance to spend a lot of time debating the specifics. Points like this will have to be debated if/when this or a similar proposal is presented again, or if the LNC decides to come up with a general policy for "chartering" LP-related organizations. The LNC directed the Chair to gather information relevant to such a process and report on it at the next meeting."
Those of us who know about the kinds of abuses described above cannot help but wonder if a Schmerl-crony controlled LNC will go ahead and pass this resolution during one of the two July LNC meetings. And they wonder if this is the sort of thing we will see more of if the "New Libertarians" take power in the party. (Note: This nefarious plan evidently was abandoned and was not brought up at the Indianapolis meetings.) See the full resolution and full Joe Dehn comments.
AND STEVE DASBACH RESIGN
Communications Direct (and LPNEWS editor) Bill Winter gave his notice a couple months before the July 2002 Indianapolis Convention, effective after the Convention, but agreed to stay on on a month-to-month basis until a replacement was found. Some LNC members claimed that he had been caught in one two many inaccurate statements to the LNC. (In both July 2002 LNC meetings the issue of the unknown level of LPNEWS accounts receivable loomed large. See my report on the convention.) Other people opinined he was but the first rat deserting the sinking ship.
On September 18, 2002 National Director Steve Dasbach gave notice, citing LNC members having lost confidence in him. Of course, this was due to a long series of mismanagement problems (like the above and others discussed in my Convention report), capped by new revelations that Dasbach, through either incompetence or intention, had withheld important financial data from the LNC: like the LPNEWS accounts receivables, the fact that he had used Convention money for general operating purposes, that the actual debt from the convention was unknown, and the new revelation that the LNC owed staffers over $100,000 in vacation and other time. The August 21, 2002 LNC Executive Committee meeting minutes and the Treasurer's September 2002 report provide further details. (See Dasbach resignation letter.)