Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why we'll (probably) never have a celebrity run for President

I'll eventually meander to my point. First there's the whole real life example that got me to thinking, plus I can't resist a detour through why I like term limits, and then I'll close with some necessary swearing just to prove how hip and culturally relevant I am.

There's an interesting debate going on at Hammer of Truth about the viability of the announced Presidential campaign of Doug Stanhope. They tell me Stanhope is a celebrity, although I haven't really heard of him. The kind of guy that you tell me where I've seen him and I say, oh yeah I think I know who you mean. I look at his face on his website and no bells ring. To test my cultural relevance, I checked the Billboard Hot 100 and would recognize three of the artists of the top five songs if I saw them on the street - better than I predicted - so maybe I am an average pop culture consumer.

Stanhope's announcement rubbed me a number of wrong ways. Yes I have officially achieved the state of old fuddy duddy - swearing in public communications offends me. It works for Enimem, but I doubt Mr. Mathers would consider running for President. If you can't get through a paragraph without getting bleeped, I don't want you representing my party.

Going out of your way to insult Jesus also is the mark of the loser. Now, you don't have to be a Christian to be a good public servant. I take great pride in recruiting not one but three Pagan priests to run for office here in NC. Not to mention the large number of openly atheist Libertarians I helped put on the ballot. It's everybody's country, not just for us Christians. But consider that fully 7/8ths of the voters self-identify as Christians. Then consider just how intensely stooopid it is for a candidate to insult them. I realized later that even more offensive to me than insulting my God is the implication that voters who "buy Jesus" are dumb. Anybody who is so arrogant as to openly say voters are dumb is automatically disqualified from serving in public office in my book.

But my problem really isn't with Stanhope. After all, he is a comedian just trying to do his job, even if I didn't laugh at this particular joke. And he did succeed in his secondary goal - I now know who he is. Doug is probably a great guy and I'm glad he is on our side. If your first myspace friend is Dave Attell, you are almost certainly my kind of people.

No, my problem is with otherwise intelligent people getting all excited about this campaign and trying to convince me that Stanhope's E-list celebrity status will somehow help the Libertarian Party. Some even invoke the name of Kinky Friedman to prove their point. Now that's just hype gone crazy. Kinky isn't just already a celebrity in Texas, he's a national icon. You might as well compare Stanhope's celebrity to William Henry Harrison's. It's just as relevant.

Now of course there is an obvious counterexample, Stanhope's friend and supporter Penn Jillette. Penn would be a fantastic candidate for us. He's 100 times more famous, already gets paid to articulate common sense stands on today's issues and can get through a speech without swearing. But he'll never run for President. If you don't believe me, there's an episode of Babylon 5 where he explains his position on the question in great detail.

The question reminds me of my old friend and boss Howie Rich, when Howie convinced me to change my position on term limits. Until then I took the purely theoretical Libertarian view that no citizens should be arbitrarily barred from public office, not even incumbents. But Howie pointed out that with career politicians the seniority system takes control of the legislative hierarchy. What incentive is there for someone who has earned success on their own merits in some other aspect of life to go into politics, where they have to toil away on the back bench for years and years just to get anywhere no matter how good they are? And you wonder how we ended up with a President who managed to lose money on both an oil company and a baseball team?

Later personal observation confirmed Howie's view for me. I found that it takes right about six years for the average NC state legislator to completely lose touch with anything that goes on outside their little building. Oh sure, some of them were that way before they went in and a blessed few manage to get through a whole career remembering who they serve. And now that some states have term limits, we can see that the program has delivered on its promises of the benefits of a citizen legislature. At least term limited legislators are much more likely to want to get out of town and back to their real lives, instead of just siting around indefinitely having fun spending other people's money because they have nothing better to do.

Of course we already have limited our President's terms. But the same principle explains why Penn Jillette will never run. Why the hell would he want to be POTUS when he already has a much better job? I know if I was a Vegas headliner I wouldn't be giving that up for nothin'.

Only one possible motive remains for any real celebrity to want to be our candidate. That person would have to be a zealot. Or put it nicely, someone who really believes in public service. Someone like Ralph Nader. Which gets us to another long held theory of mine - anyone who truly wants to be President is almost certainly too mentally unstable to be trusted with that much power. But that's a conundrum I am willing to live with if the candidate is credible enough.

We thought Harry Browne's bit of celebrity would help us. We found out he wasn't nearly famous enough. Aaron Russo is as famous or more than Doug Stanhope, but that wasn't enough to overcome our justifiable fear of putting a wild man at the top of our ticket.

Now, Doug Stanhope might be the perfect candidate for another long time pipedream of mine: the Fuck You! Party. "Want to send the politicians a message they can't ignore? Vote Fuck You!" If there's any chance to get the nonvoting half of the country back in the voting booths this is it, I'm telling you. I've done enough research to know there are absolutely no prohibitions against obscene party names in any state or federal laws regarding advertising or printing ballots, so you'd have 'em over a barrel if it ended up in court. One of those fun things I'll do when I win the lottery.

I'd be thrilled if we could get a real Libertarian with real celebrity and at least a modicum of gravitas to run for President. But I ain't holding my breath. In the next two years I expect to work for the best candidate available, whomever that might be.

Disclaimer: I am currently the Treasurer of the George Phillies campaign.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Kill this bill quickly I am tired of these bastards just screwing with us"

OK, so I am quoting my good friend and colleague Eric Smith, but he speaks for me when it comes to H88, the now lying sack of manure "Electoral Fairness Act."

The big story the media is missing is the *new* imposition of filing fees in this bill. That negative vastly outweighs the marginal benefit of the reduction in the retention requirement. That's hardly any help to any parties that can't get on the ballot in the first place. I hope the bill is just killed quickly and quietly in conference.

The positioning on this bill is a great example of just little legislators think of serving the people or doing the right thing. The positive Republican amendment failed on a straight party line vote, all Democrats against it except for Ellie Kinnaird. Four years ago, it was Republicans killing our bills while Democrats all rallied around them. That's because back then they were all freaked out about Libertarians getting on the ballot. Now they all know that after us, the Greens are next. Stupid Republicans. Stupid Democrats.

Sen. Dan Clodfelter's remarks to us are most telling. Now I don't want to tick Dan off because he is a truly decent guy who supported our bill. But he would never support the amendments we needed because in his estimation the bill would die in the House if they set it right. And I see that he didn't vote for the Berger amendment on the floor. So I guess that political expediency carries more coin than voting for what you believe is right in Raleigh.

And that's very sad, that even a decent fellow like Dan is so afraid to vote differently from his party. It just goes to show how powerful the influences are in that building, taking legislators away from serving the people and towards serving their party or other special interests.

Thank God for Ellie Kinnaird. If someone can get through years in that environment and still vote her conscience every time, then hope remains.

N.C. Senate leaves fairness out of Electoral Fairness Act

A press release from the NC Open Elections Coalition

House Bill 88 goes back to House with no improvements in signature requirements for third parties and independent candidates

RALEIGH: House Bill 88, the Electoral Fairness Act, passed the N.C. Senate today in a form that does nothing to improve citizen access to the state's ballots.

Despite two attempts to amend the bill back to reasonable signature requirements, House Bill 88 returns to the N.C. House with the state's current requirement for petition signatures intact. That requirement is equal to 2 percent of the votes cast in the last governor's race, or 69,734 signatures.

"Once again, the legislature leaves North Carolina with arguably the most burdensome ballot access restrictions in the nation," said Brian Irving, a Libertarian. "In terms of democratic access to the ballot, North Carolina and Alabama rank at the very bottom."

In its current form, the bill does lower the vote threshold to stay on the ballot from 10 percent to 2 percent of the vote cast for governor or president, a positive change if it holds up in conference in the House, but not the change the N.C. Open Elections Coalition was looking for.

"What good does it do us?" said Irving. "We can't stay on the ballot if we can't get on the ballot in the first place."

The bill also adds filing fees for third-party and independent candidates.

Improvements rejected by leadership

The Democratic leadership of the Senate once again voted down an amendment that would have lowered the signatures required to get on the ballot (to 1/2 percent of the votes cast for governor, or 17,434). The amendment was introduced by Minority Leader Phil Berger and championed by Deputy Minority Leader Tom Apodaca, Republican Andrew Brock and Republican Eddie Goodall, as well as by Democrat Ellie Kinnaird.

The vote on the amendment split on party lines (21-25), with Senator Kinnaird being the only Democrat to support opening the ballot. The bill itself passed unanimously.

"We owe the Republicans thanks," said Hart Matthews, Director of the North Carolina Green Party. "They may have been playing for the chance to split the liberal vote, but they could have chosen instead to support higher signature limits to keep all third parties off the ballot. They deserve thanks for speaking eloquently in support of democratic reforms and for supporting a lower vote threshold that would make it easier for Libertarians and others to stay on the ballot."

"On the other hand," said Matthews, "Democratic Senators Doug Berger and David Weinstein made completely nonsensical arguments about volunteer workers at polling places and the 'balkanization' of the Senate. The 48 states that have easier ballot access than we do don't have problems with legislative 'balkanization.' "

Democratic Senator Daniel Clodfelter, though he said he agreed with the Berger amendment, argued that the bill would die entirely in the House if it were to go back with lower signature limits and so urged the Senate to reject the amendment.

Electoral Fairness Act may go to conference, lawsuit active

The Senate leadership doubts it can get a vote of concurrence in the House, so the bill may end up in conference committee.

Meanwhile, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina and the North Carolina Green Party have brought suit against the state Board of Elections, alleging that the ballot access requirements are a breach of the state's constitutional guarantee of free elections.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ballot Access op-ed in News & Observer

That hard workin' Hart Matthews is still at it:

The Raleigh News & Observer is running our ballot access opinion piece smack in the middle of the page above the fold today.

Now we have a chance to get lots of letters published on the subject! If you have a minute, send letters in support of reducing ballot access signature limits to The letter limit is 200 words. There's lots of information in the piece and more on our website.

One important point that I couldn't fit into the opinion piece: Third parties cannot even run candidates for local partisan office (board of commissioners, e.g.) without collecting 69,734 verified signatures. Many legislators think House Bill 88 would only apply to state offices. They don't know we can't even run for county commission.

Thanks, folks!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sean and Lee on the radio

Well, when it rains it pours around these parts. But that is my way apparently - nothing for a week or more then three posts at once. I'm working on a couple more stories too which are almost ripe enough to pluck and publish. Until Liberty For All overcomes our current technical difficulties this will be the place for pretty much everything I or some other of our authors have to say. I expect that LFA will be back at full speed soon in a format more in keeping with the speed of today's internet.

Anyway, just got the word from Matt Mittan that he needs us to guest host for him on Thursday, August 3rd, in the Matt Cave on WWNC, 570 AM in Asheville. Maybe also on Friday the 4th too. Looking forward to it!

Electoral Fairness Act still alive

An update from Hart Matthews:

I spoke with the chairmain of the Senate Judiciary I committee this morning (Sen. Daniel Clodfelter), and he tells me that House Bill 88 is not dead. He does not think it will go anywhere, but it's still on his list of things to get done, probably early next week.

The bill is still in "committee substitute" form, which means it still sets the signature limit at 2% (69,734 verified signatures). I have conferred with the Libertarians, and they agree this is unacceptable. The chairman is not willing to reduce the level to 0.5% (17,434 verified signatures) because he feels the bill won't pass committee like that. BUT, the Republican majority leader is still committed to amending the bill if it appears in committee.

SO, we still have some time to try to convert key Senators who might vote with the Republicans for an amended version. Here are the people we're contacting:

- On the Senate Judiciary I committee (especially Boseman):
Sen. Julia Boseman, (919) 715-2525,
Sen. Janet Cowell, (919) 715-6400,
Sen. R.C. Soles Jr., (919) 733-5963,

- Other potential swing Senators (especially Bland & Dalton):
Sen. Bob Atwater, (919) 715-3036,
Sen. Pete Bland, (919) 733-6275,
Sen. Walter Dalton, (919) 715-3038,
Sen. John Snow, (919) 733-5875,

I'll post an update as soon as the bill is scheduled in committee.

FEC Expands Regulation of Internet Campaign Activities

Thanks to Bill Hall of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP for this excellent bit of info:

FEC Expands Regulation of Internet Campaign Activities

In response to the successful court challenge in Shays v. FEC, the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") recently modified its regulations regarding Internet communications. These changes affect the political activities of national, state, district and local political party organizations, as well as candidate committees and individuals. They have increased the burden of regulation on some activities, while creating clear loopholes to engage in other activities.

To understand these recent changes in this very complex area of the law, you must first understand some of the terminology used in these regulations - the concepts of "Contribution," "Expenditure," "Federal Funds," "Federal Election Activity," "Federal-Related Activity," "Nonfederal Funds," and "Public Communication." I urge you to skip to the end of this bulletin and review the short definitions for these terms before you read the rest of this bulletin, if you are not already comfortable you understand these terms.

Paid Website Advertising Now Qualifies as a Public Communication

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act ("BCRA") defines certain communications as a Public Communication. A Public Communication that promotes, supports, attacks or opposes a federal candidate qualifies as Federal Election Activity, and must be paid for entirely with Federal Funds. Prior to the Shays decision, the FEC had interpreted BCRA to exclude all forms of Internet communication from the definition of a Public Communication. The FEC's recently amended regulations now classify all Internet communications placed for a fee on another person's website as a Public Communication. The FEC's decision to qualify certain paid Internet communications as a Public Communication is important to you because if a state or local party pays to produce a banner, pop-up ad or other advertisement that would qualify as Federal Election Activity and pays to post this on another person's website, then the costs of the production and publication must be paid for entirely with Federal Funds.

Unpaid Internet Communications Do Not Qualify as a Public Communication

In making its decision the FEC distinguished between paid and unpaid Internet communications. Unpaid communications include uncompensated blogs and emails, and messages posted on a person's or committee's own website. Unpaid Internet communications do not qualify as a Public Communication. This means that a political party organization can treat the cost of maintaining its own website and purchasing Internet emailing services as administrative expenses, and pay their costs from a mixture of Federal Funds and Nonfederal Funds, even though they may be used to support federal candidates.

Exceptions Created to the Definitions of "Contribution" and "Expenditure" for Internet Activities by Individuals

The FEC has created exceptions to the definitions of Contribution and Expenditure for Internet activities volunteered by individuals or groups of individuals. These exceptions apply to uncompensated Internet activities undertaken in coordination with a candidate or political committee, as well as independent activity. The exceptions apply to the following activities: sending or forwarding emails, providing hyperlinks, engaging in campaign-related blogging, creating and maintaining an election-related Web site, paying a nominal fee for use of a Web site or, any other form of communication over the Internet. These exceptions are important because they clarify that the work product of volunteers engaging in Internet activities does not contribute toward the FEC filing thresholds for a political party organization. In other words these volunteer, but valuable, activities will not be added to the Contributions and Expenditures a political organization receives, for purposes of calculating whether the organization must file with the FEC.

What This Means for You

What does this means for your political party organization's operations?

First, it means you must take care to fund more of your operations only with Federal Funds. Specifically, if you do any paid Internet advertising in connection with a federal election, you may have to pay all, instead of only part, of that cost with Federal Funds. Whether or not your political party organization has met the thresholds requiring it to file with and regularly report to the FEC as a political committee, you are legally required to ensure that it only uses Federal Funds to pay the costs of Federal-Related Activity required to be paid with Federal Funds. You are required to keep records demonstrating that you have complied with the requirements of federal campaign finance law in raising those funds. Theoretically, the FEC may ask to review your records and fine or imprison you if you have not complied with the law. Effectively, this means that you must upgrade the scope of your record-keeping, so you can demonstrate you used Federal Funds when required to do so.

Second, you must invest more time and energy raising Federal Funds, to meet your increased requirements for Federal Funds. Generally speaking, the contribution limits, reporting requirements (if your committee files reports with the FEC) and prohibitions against accepting certain contributions (e.g., corporate contributions) are much stricter for Federal Funds than for Levin Funds and/or Nonfederal Funds. Now, even more than in the past, you must wrestle with those requirements.

Third, the amended regulations give you the opportunity to expand your political organization's Federal-Related Activity over the Internet. You can host the web pages of your federal candidates on your website, and mass email your lists of contacts and supporters, without increasing the Federal Funds that must be devoted to your operations. You can provide the planning and content to mobilize volunteers to actively support Libertarian Party® federal candidates via their Internet activities. Those supporters who have websites can post ads, hyperlinks and content, so long as they are not paid to do so. Other supporters can mass email their contacts and blog in support of federal candidates. All of these activities are now clearly exempted from FEC regulation.

Some Important Definitions

• "Contributions" are monetary or in kind donations for the purpose of influencing any federal election for federal office.

• "Expenditures" are monetary or in kind purchases, payments, loans, deposits, contracts or gifts for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office.

• "Federal Election Activity" means certain activities, other than direct contributions to a candidate for federal office, in connection with a federal election or for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office. Federal Election Activity includes activities such as voter registration within 120 days prior to a federal election, and voter identification activity, generic (e.g., "Vote Libertarian") communications, and get-out-the-vote activity in connection with a federal election, the cost of which must be allocated between Federal Funds and Levin Funds. Federal Election Activity also includes activities such as Public Communications supporting or opposing federal candidates, and the services of committee employees spending more than 25% of their compensated time in connection with Federal-Related Activity, the cost of which must be paid entirely from Federal Funds.

• "Federal Funds," sometimes called "Hard Money," means funds raised and spent in accordance with the contribution limits and prohibitions and solicitation requirements of federal campaign finance laws.

• "Federal-Related Activity" includes both Federal Election Activity, and more traditional activities intended to influence a federal election, such as contributions to federal candidates or expenditures supporting or opposing federal candidates.

• "Nonfederal Funds" means funds raised and spent in accordance with the contribution limits and prohibitions and solicitation requirements of state, and not federal, campaign finance laws. For example, this would include funds raised, spent and reported under state campaign finance laws for the purpose of influencing any election for state office or a state ballot initiative. It would also include funds raised and spent for indirect political purposes that are not required to be reported under state campaign finance laws. The hallmark of Nonfederal Funds is that they are not raised and spent for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office.

• "Public Communication" means a communication by means of any broadcast, cable or satellite communication, newspaper, magazine or outdoor advertising facility, mass mailing or telephone bank to the general public, or any other form of general public political advertising. It includes a banner, pop-up or other advertisement placed for a fee on another person's website.


In a followup email, Bill also noted, "It's a little more complicated than summarized in my bulletin. For example, I never discussed disclaimers. If a private e-mail engages in direct advocacy (e.g., "Vote for Michael Badnarik") to more than 500 recipients, then it must contain a disclaimer as to who sent it, their website or address, and whether or not it was authorized by the candidate. At the same time, it is not a 'contribution' or 'expenditure' that might give rise to an FEC filing responsibility."


Bill Hall is a partner with Warner Norcross & Judd LLP specializing in Federal Election Commission, ballot access and campaign finance law matters. He has served as General Counsel to the Libertarian National Committee for more than 15 years, and has represented many state and local political party, candidate and political action committees. Bill has consulted on numerous briefs in support of ballot access and campaign finance litigation before many state and federal courts and the United States Supreme Court, and represented clients in seeking advisory opinions and commenting on proposed rulemakings before the Federal Election Commission. Bill is listed in Who's Who in American Politics and Who's Who in American Law. Bill may be reached at 616.752.2143.

This message is provided to advise you of recent federal campaign finance law developments. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances.

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP is a full service law firm with four offices in Michigan. Our attorneys are experienced in every aspect of election law. They handle all types of election issues, including federal and state campaign finance compliance and regulatory counseling, ballot access litigation support, proceedings before the Federal Election Commission, criminal proceedings for campaign finance law violations, and the formation and organization of political committees. Our attorneys are routinely involved in the incorporation of political committees, counseling them on campaign finance and federal tax compliance issues, and supporting them in the "business" of politics, with timely advice on employment, insurance, technology, trademark, leasing and contract issues.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Electoral Fairness Act hearing, part two of three?

Here's a message from Hart Matthews of the NC Green Party and NC Open Elections Coalition:


That's right, folks. The Electoral Fairness Act will be in front of the Senate Judiciary I Committee AGAIN tomorrow (Friday 7/7/06) at 10 a.m., room 1027 of the Legislative Building.

There was no committee vote on House Bill 88 today, not even a discussion. Judiciary I chairman Dan Clodfelter was concerned about the threat of an amendment by Minority Leader Phil Berger, an amendment to get the bill back down to the 1/2% signature limit. Sen. Berger yesterday declared his intention to offer such an amendment, and Sen. Clodfelter feels that means death for the bill.

Sen. Clodfelter was taken aback when I told him we'd rather the bill die than pass without that amendment. The Senate committee substitute has put the vote threshold to stay on the ballot back to 2% (good!), but it keeps the signature level at 2% (very bad!). This bill would also move the deadline up a month and add a filing fee. Sen. Clodfelter feels he can fix the deadline discrepancy, but the House opposes removing the filing fee.

After the Judiciary committee meeting, I had an extended conversation with Sen. Clodfelter and Rep. Deborah Ross. They clearly care about passing this bill so they can set some signature limits for independent candidates. Apparently, they're getting major resistance from the Democratic leadership, and the general policy is not to bring something to the floor until all the disagreements have been ironed out. So, Clodfelter is more inclined not to bring the bill to committee at all.

Although Rep. Ross energetically encouraged us to take what we could get, I stood by our position and encouraged them to bring the bill to the committee.

If you're inclined to write a Senator tonight, write Sen. Dan Clodfelter ( Thank him for all his effort on this bill and ask him to bring the bill to committee for a vote, regardless of the danger an amendment might pose. OR, write Sen. Phil Berger ( to reinforce our support for an amendment bringing the signature requirement to 1/2% of the votes cast in the last
gubernatorial race.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.


Thanks to Jim Lark and Marianne Volpe for catching errors in the LNC reports below which I missed.

Patrick Dixon was elected as an at large representative, not as regional rep. Wes Benedict is the Region 3 Representative.

Marianne caught a typo in her report: Bill Redpath left the meeting at 11.47am, not 12.47pm.

LNC Meeting Report, Portland, July 3, 2006

Golly, I just might have a successor - or several. Marianne Volpe wrote up this report of the LNC meeting immediately following the convention in Portland. Thanks Marianne!


LNC Meeting July 3, 2006

The meeting was called to order by Bill Redpath, Chairman, at 9:30 a.m. He asked members to introduce themselves. After introductions the meeting began with a public comment period. Redpath thanked the Oregon LP for hosting the convention. LPO Chairman Adam Mayer and Executive Director LPO Richard Burke walked in to a round of applause (coincidentally).

Allen Hacker of California commended Terry Quick (ENTCO) for this convention and suggested the LNC start the cycle of convention preparation immediately. Hacker raised a second issue, membership, and said that he was working with Sandra Kallender and Elizabeth Brierly on a service to find members, a private market solution. He had a brochure on this service that he made available to the LNC.

Adam Mayer thanked the LNC for the opportunity to host the convention and invited attendees to a lunch that afternoon. Dave Hollist presented his contact information. Richard Burke said he is the Region 2 Alternate to the LNC.

The next item was the Credentials Report. Secretary Bob Sullentrup described the new regions, and there was a discussion of several regions where paperwork was missing. Jim Lark said that his region may have a problem because they did not have a signature from the WVA state chair regarding joining the region. There was a brief discussion of the "orphan" states of Hawaii, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Rhode Island. Lark said that he was uneasy about adding WVA to the region because there was no response from the state chair there, though the delegates in caucus on Saturday voted to add WVA.

Dan Karlan, At-Large Representative, said regarding Maine he had not been able to contact Mark Cenci. Karlan said that he had heard recently that the Maine LP was not functioning. Redpath said he had similar information. George Phillies of Massachusetts was recognized to speak, and Phillies said that he had a message from Cenci that Cenci would dissolve the Maine LP so that a new organization could be created later but Phillies didn’t know if this had been done.

Someone said he had talked to someone in Hawaii but had no communication that they wanted to be part of the region.

After a paperwork check, Redpath said that we had around $100,000 in liabilities, with a considerable amount of deferred revenue. This author did not catch the number of deferred revenue. Redpath said that net surplus year to date was $37,000.

Geoff Neale, Treasurer, said that Redpath was more familiar with the present financials than he was. Neale asked for the tentative agenda. Redpath said the tentative agenda was: a report of potential conflicts of interest, setting and approving agenda, Chair’s report, Treasurer’s report, Secretary’s report, and Counsel Bill Hall’s explanation of executive session. Hall said that he usually talks about what executive session is and attorney client privilege, but will not need to go into executive session at this meeting.

Redpath said he wanted to discuss the party program, a report on Campus organizing with Lark, future conventions, and a short report on current Ballot Access. He also wanted to discuss fundraising, perhaps a major donor plan, executive committee formation, address possible subcommittees, the status of projects including Jeremy Keil’s Marketing/Branding survey, then set future meetings.

Aaron Starr of California asked about time for each item; he noted that the LNC had only 2 hours for the meeting. Redpath said that he thought the reports would be brief, but time limits could be set. After discussion the additional agenda items included the Policy Manual, with Carver Governance and discussion of the party program postponed to the next meeting. The motion to adopt the agenda passed, with a limit of 10 minutes for each item.

After a report on potential conflicts, Redpath gave a short Chair’s report. He thanked everyone and congratulated them for being elected to this body. He asked if there were any questions. Starr said he wanted a motion to thank the past body and Chair. A resolution commending the participation of the last LNC and Chair was passed.

Treasurer’s Report – Neale.
Neale said that the Treasurer’s primary role is oversight, so he doesn’t have anything yet to report. He said he would spend some months examining the books. Starr asked that deferred revenues be looked at and referenced life memberships that may be undervalued.

Secretary’s Report – Sullentrup. He had nothing to report.

Staff Report – Shane Cory.
Redpath said that most people were interested in numbers from this convention. This author may have misheard these numbers, but it sounded like $27,000 was raised on site, and $31, 000 was the total bill for the hotel, with $7,000 to be paid for Audio/visual work. Redpath asked if we knew at this time how much we owe all vendors? Cory said negotiations are ongoing. Neale asked what was the room block for the hotel, and the answer was 1400 room nights. Neale asked how many were sold and what is the penalty? Cory said we didn’t make 1400, but we would be able to pay the hotel, considering a matter of offsets from trade show vendors. Neale asked what was the purpose for the banquet funds raised? Cory said to offset convention losses.

Redpath asked Cory would he be able to supply more information and did Cory have all the LNC members’ email addresses? Cory responded that he would have more information on the convention soon and he had the email addresses. Cory said he would send the previous staff report on the convention to the LNC members. Emily Salvette said that she wanted to commend the staff for their work on the convention.

Redpath said that he foresees a major donor program as important and will work with Cory on this.

Starr said that the primary purpose of a non-profit is to raise money. Starr commits to giving an additional $5K to the party this term, or raising the amount. M Carling said he will do the same, and a couple of observers made the same commitment.

Redpath asked about media generated for the convention. Cory said CSPAN covered the banquet last night and there was local press coverage. Communications Director Stephen Gordon said that Reason magazine also covered the convention.

At this point Region Representative Tony Ryan said he had to leave to catch a plane and his alternate took his place. At this time this author does not know the name of the woman.

Bill Hall – Counsel.
Hall addressed the LNC and described his firm and background. He explained the purpose of executive session and how emails to and from him to LNC members could be labeled "privileged and confidential" and had to be treated as such. He said that when the LNC is in executive session LNC members are making a commitment to the rest of the members that what is discussed will not be divulged to non-LNC members. If you cannot promise to keep a matter confidential, he said, you should leave the room.

Policy Manual
Carling asked for and got a motion to create a three person committee to divide the Policy Manual into three parts. After discussion about why this is necessary (the manual is very large and needs to be rewritten), the motion passed. The three sections would be standing rules for staff, LNC standing rules, and special rules. The three committee members are Jim Lark, M Carling and one other person, name unclear.

Neale said he had changes to make to the policy manual on pages 5, 26 and 27. The first was to delete the procedure for roll call votes, since the delegates changed this in the bylaws during the convention. The motion passed without objection. On page 26, financial procedures, Neale moved to delete paragraph E. Neale said we passed a bylaw to require that financial books will be kept in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP). This motion passed without objection. Finally, Neale moved to delete paragraph F. He explained that GAAP requires that you capitalize assets; our National office only has old computer equipment. The motion passed. Neale moved to delete paragraph G because it tells you what NOT to do, but GAAP already defines how to handle unsegregated funds. Paragraph G was deleted without objection.

Branding Report – Jeremy Keil.
Keil talked about funds raised for this project. He explained that the project was to create a "brand" for the LP. A powerpoint presentation by the associate working with Keil followed.

The strategy to be followed is to find the pro-Libertarian hot points for individuals and groups; next to get them to see we share their sentiments and that Libertarians are the only ones that will help them on that issue, then to gradually introduce them to other Libertarian issues.

Keil said that Libertarians were more likely to be internet/cable users. Time ran out for this item and Redpath suggested that anyone interested could speak to Keil’s associate after the meeting.

Campus Organizing Report – Lark.
Redpath asked if he had something to speak about; Lark said members had his report and there would be a new campus website at the end of July. Sullentrup asked if Lark had paid $5,000 for this project, and Lark said he had contributed that amount.

Future Conventions.
A discussion of the ENTCO contract and Terry Quick’s possible continued work for the LP ensued. The contract with ENTCO did not end with this convention, but could be terminated by either party for any reason with a 30 day notice.

Starr asked if there were further obligations by Quick to the committee. Cory said there was still a lot of work to do; Quick said he’s been paid through this month and will give reports, but he wanted to know if he would begin work on the next convention. Redpath asked if we are obligated for more payments to Quick and Cory said we have two more payments to Quick. Cory said there are no further obligations. Neale said that he had a mild objection because this discussion is related to the present convention, not the future convention. Neale said that he did not want to talk about future work with someone when the LNC had not decided the site of the next convention.

Neale moved closing out work on this convention and handling the next convention on a bid basis. Starr said that he thought Quick’s role was to recommend sites. Pat Dixon seconded Neale’s motion for discussion. Neale asked if the present ENTCO contract specifies locating the next site. Neale believes that it was for this one convention and objected to a never-ending contract.

Neale asked to withdraw motion, but there was objection to withdrawal. Discussion continued, with Quick speaking about the difficulty in arranging a convention. He explained that hotel contracts were normally negotiated several years in advance and better rates for hotel rooms could have been gotten with more advance planning.

Neale moved for an additional 15 minutes on this item, since the LNC was discussing what should have been in the convention report, but the LNC needs to talk about future conventions. Starr said there would not be enough time for everything else on agenda.

The LNC moved to the creation of the Executive Committee at this point. After a discussion on the best size of the Executive Committee, a motion was passed to make it an 8 person committee. The members selected for the Executive Committee automatically include the four officers, Redpath, Vice Chairman Chuck Moulton, Treasurer Neale, and Secretary Sullentrup. Salvette nominated Admiral Michael Colley; Moulton nominated Hardy Mascia; Lark nominated Starr; Neale nominated Pat Dixon but Dixon declined; Salvette nominated Lark. After a motion to close nominations the slate was elected by acclamation.

Future Meetings
There was a discussion about the need for one or two more meetings before the end of the year. Neale suggested two meetings because of the need for time to prepare the budget and work with staff before the budget meeting. After discussion of the best dates, the next LNC meeting was scheduled for August 19 and 20, location to be decided, and November 11 and 12 in the Washington DC area.

At this point Quick said the LNC could pick a state and date and let ENTCO find the best deals for the next convention. Neale said that this was not appropriate for this meeting. Redpath said that he had to leave now to catch his plane; Neale said that we agreed to come back to the discussion of future conventions at this point.

Neale said the most important issue was the next site, and he asked Quick to repeat what he told Neale that morning about where the next site should be. Quick explained that the next site should already have been picked and should have been advertised and marketed at this convention. He suggested that Texas would be a very good site and ENTCO could get a report within 30 days of the best city and hotels. John La Baume pointed out that for a presidential year it’s easier to get more press at a convention in the District of Columbia because reporters don’t have to travel.

At 12:47 p.m. Redpath left and Vice Chairman Moulton chaired the meeting. Discussion of future convention locations continued. Starr said that there was no reason to have a convention as late as we do, and that we could have a convention in 2007 to give our Presidential candidate time to campaign. After a discussion on the time constraint involved with a convention to be held in 2007, Neale moved that a convention committee be populated now to plan the next convention.

Starr moved to grant to ENTCO authority to solicit bids for cities and dates Quick deems appropriate, working with the Chairman, to be reported within 30 days. Neale asked how much ENTCO’s charge would be to do this. Quick repeated that there was not much time to make this decision. This author did not hear whether the cost of this activity would be included in payments already made or to be made to Quick.

Sullentrup reread the motion and the motion passed.

Salvette said she wanted to see more sites considered than DC and Texas, such as Chicago and Colorado. Starr asked if someone could get ENTCO our previous convention sites. Neale said that Texas has been trying to get a convention for years, while Denver has hosted it twice. Neale said the Austin party is extremely strong and Texas is either the second or third largest LP affiliate now, though Texas has not hosted the convention in a very long time.

Lark thanked Quick for his work and asked how many states could he look at and come back with a report to the LNC. Quick said he could look at three potential states and DC. (He may have said three states including DC, but this author thinks he said three plus DC.) Nancy Neale said she’d work with Quick on this report.

There was a motion to adjourn by someone. Moulton ruled the ayes have it, but Neale called for division. There were 3 in favor, and 5 against, so the meeting continued.

Moulton quickly went through the remainder of the agenda. Since Redpath had left the Ballot Access report was skipped. The next item was a discussion of fundraising, and at this point Neale had to leave.

Lark then said Quick should look at a 4 day convention. There was a motion to suspend the rules to discuss this. Before leaving Neale said we should demand a 4 day convention in 2008 to allow more time for more business and to appeal to more delegates; a 2 day convention was too short.

Sullentrup moved to have a 3 day convention. Neale said that one factor in the low attendance at this convention was it was so short. He said that the history of the party have been to have 4 day conventions, since this lowers the cost for attendees for airfare.

Discussion continued on 3 versus 4 day conventions. Starr suggested amending the motion to say "at least 3 days." Without objection the motion requiring a convention of at least 3 days was passed.

By this time it was about 12:15 p.m. and this author had to leave the meeting.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Electoral Fairness Act hearing, part one of two?

Barbara Howe attended the hearing today on H88, the Electoral Fairness Act, in the NC Senate Judiciary 1 committee. Here is her report, and thanks Barbara!


This note is in response to several posted regarding HB 88.

The bill was heard in JI today. Basically, Senator Clodfelter presented an amended version of the House bill (that abomination that passed in the wee small hours of the session last year). Clodfelter's version restored the original retention requirement back to two percent of the vote for gov or pres and removed the change in the date for filing the petitions back to June.

Unfortunately, what Clodfelter's bill didn't do is restore the reduction of signature requirement to one half of one percent.

I learned that Clodfelter wasn't going to amend the signature requirement as I walked in the LB about fifteen minutes before the committee was scheduled to meet. Hart Matthews had heard this from Clodfelter. I went to Senator Phil Berger and asked him if he would offer an amendment to restore the half percent. He agreed to do it, but explained he might have to leave the committee meeting before the bill came up.

This did indeed happen. He left. Clodfelter called the bill. :-(

Senator Clodfelter did let Hart and me speak briefly and we implored the committee to restore the petitioning reduction.

Then, they decided to hold the vote tomorrow.

I did get a chance to see Senator Berger after the committee meeting and he did say that tomorrow he would offer the amendment.

Sean's announcement (ed. note: one I forwarded from the committee secretary) says the meeting is at 10:00. Clodfelter said they would meet at 9:00 (but perhaps he was speaking before he checked with others). I'll be there a little before 9:00, just in case the meeting is actually at 9:00. If not, I'll wander the halls until committee time. Really, it's my favorite thing to do. Not....

Rep. Deb Ross came over after the committee adjourned and told us that if the signature reduction is restored, she is sure the House will not concur and then the bill will probably die. Frankly, if we don't get the signature reduction, and we do get filing fees, I think the bill probably should die. She seems to think the reduction of the retention from ten to two percent ought to be enough for us.

Politics sure is ugly.

LNC regional reps

LNC Secretary Bob Sullentrup has released the list of new regions and regional reps, to go with the list of officers and at large reps previously published. Thanks to Lee Wrights for forwarding this to me.

Region 1 (Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming, (maybe) North Dakota, Nebraska)
Tony Ryan (SD)
alternate: Julia Fox (WI), Scott Kohlhaus (second alt) (AK)

Region 2 (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho)
M Carling (CA), Aaron Starr (CA)
alternates: Richard Burke , Scott Lieberman (CA)

Region 3 (Utah, New Mexico, Arkansas, Nevada, Louisiana, Arizona, Texas)
Patrick Dixon (TX)
alternate: Nancy Neale (TX)

Region 4 (Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi)
Mark Bodenhausen (AL)
alternate: Stewart Flood (SC)

Region 5 (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana)
Emily Salvette (MI)
alternate: Rebecca Sink-Burris (IN)

Region 6 (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, (maybe) DC)
James W. Lark, III (VA)
alternate: Steve Damerell (VA)

Region 7 (New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont Connecticut, New Hampshire)
Hardy Machia (VT)
alternate: Eric Sundwall (NY)

Orphaned affiliates include: WV, Hawaii, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island.

[back to Sean:] I am still trying to figure out how the heck NC got left off considering we had agreed to form our region before the convention. I'll publish details on that whole mess when it is a bit clearer, but I can say I'm really sorry now I wasn't in Portland to keep my seat on the bylaws committee and push for reforming this broken system. So many states without representation is simply not tolerable.

Setting that aside, it looks like a good bunch of folks. Let's hope they do well.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Electoral Fairness is finally getting a hearing!

This message is sent by Sean Haugh on behalf of the NC Open Elections Coalition. Thanks to Hart Matthews of the NC Green Party for much of the information below. If you wish to receive email from me containing news of interest to North Carolina Libertarians, just send me a note to and let me know, thanks.

The Electoral Fairness Act (H88) is on the agenda of the NC Senate’s Judiciary 1 Committee on Wednesday, July 5th at 1pm. The meeting will be in room 1027 of the Legislative Building, the main General Assembly building on Jones St. in Raleigh.

The Electoral Fairness Act (EFA) originally was designed to significantly reduce both the signature and retention requirements to get and stay on the ballot in North Carolina. Currently NC is the third hardest state in the country to get on the ballot (according to Ballot Access News). EFA would bring us closer to the national average. The Libertarian Party already has gathered enough signatures to meet the proposed new requirements.

However EFA was amended in the middle of the night to eliminate all the positive gains of the bill while retaining a new filing fee and other barriers. So now the EFA would actually make things worse for the Libertarian Party and other third parties!

Please contact the members of the Judiciary 1 Committee (J1), especially if you are a constituent of one of these Senators. Tell them that H88, the Electoral Fairness Act, needs to be returned to the version passed by the committees in the House (version 3). Please be aware that the majority of these Senators are actually quite sympathetic to our bill and electoral fairness in general, so we need to simply show them how important the issue is and encourage them to work hard so that the right version of the EFA is put on Governor Easley’s desk before the close of this legislative session.

You can read up on the legislative history and provisions of the Electoral Fairness Act here.

And here’s a link to the list of J1 Senators.

We also need more signatures on our online petition! We had a wave of new signatures last week when Common Cause and Democracy NC put out email appeals for us. Thanks to those groups for coming on board! Ask your friends to sign it too!

Thanks for all your help!

national convention updates

The Libertarian National Convention is being covered on some other blogs. George Phillies has been kind enough to email me some updtaes from the convention floor in Portland which can supplement their reports. I really hate that I'm not there.

LNC election results:

Bill Redpath 182
Ernie Hancock 66
George Phillies 26

Vice Chair
Round 1
Chuck Moulton 117
M Carling 96
Tony Ryan 71

Round 2
Moulton 169
Carling 105

Secretary Bob Sullentrup ran unopposed

Geoff Neale 191
Mark Nelson 77

Admiral Michael Colley 251
Angela Keaton 231
Patrick Dixon 212
Jeremy Keil 175
Dan Karlan 149
Above were elected

Also ran: Deryl Martin, Morey Strauss, M Carling

On the second vote, almost all platform planks that had been removed stayed removed. The Drug War and Firearms planks were restored.

Content of the following old planks was retained, though sometimes moved: (I transcribed a list being read aloud)

1.2 Crime
1.3 Victimless Crimes
1.12 The Right to Property
Space (not sure what this means - Sean)
1.17 Conscription and the Military
1.18 Immigration
1.20 Women's Rights and Abortion
3.5 Consumer Protection
1.22 Sexual Rights
2.5 Governement Debt
2.6 Monopolies (now with parts from 2.7 [Subsidies], 2.9 [Public Utilities], 3.13 [Postal Service])
1.16 The Right to Keep and Bear Arms
1.4 The War on Drugs
1.11 Freedom of Religion
1.10 Freedom of Communication

I believe there is a revised immigration plank.

Some Bylaws changes rolled through. The Bylaws committee concluded that zero dues violated the bylaws all over the place, and proposed a fix. The passed change created the new category Sustaining Member, someone who has paid $25 or more in the past year, as a replacement for member 'whose dues are current'. So dues not called dues are restored.

Access to the Judicial Committee was not changed. A proposal to delete the pledge or replace it with something much like the libertarian objective definition of the Liberty for Massachusetts bylaws did not pass.

[back to Sean:] Personally I'm not as concerned about the Platform being gutted. We have an opportunity to set it right next convention. I guess I'd better get to writing. ;-) It is quite amusing to me that the abortion plank survived the purge, considering how it was always the one targeted for removal in past conventions.

Same with the attempts to modify or remove the membership certification (aka the pledge). After carefully listening to reform attempts, I am more convinced than ever that the pledge needs to be abolished entirely. Such big changes don't often sail through on the first attempt. We have two years to sell it to whomever shows up next time.

The only real concern I have with the changes is that around 300 or fewer people were present to make them. But considering I was one of the LNC members who voted to have the convention in Portland, I won't complain about the location.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Bill Redpath can do as Chair. I'm excited about his issues, especially national taking responsibility again for ballot access and hiring a new political director. I wish him and the rest of the new LNC every success.