Liberty Lion: Proposed LPUS Bylaw Amendment Takes Away Local Affiliate Authority

Dr. Tom Stevens at Liberty Lion (for background see here and here):

The Libertarian Party Bylaws Committee has proposed the following bylaw amendment to be voted on by the delegates in attendance at the Libertarian Party’s National Convention scheduled to be held from May 3-6, 2012 at the Red Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada:

No individual enrolled as a registered voter affiliated with another political party, if he or she has the option of affiliating with the Libertarian Party, shall be eligible to serve as a Party employee, National Committee member, committee member, or delegate, or hold any other position of trust or responsibility within the Party.

Dr. Tom Stevens, Political Director of the Libertarian Party of Queens County, has objected to the impact this proposed bylaw amendment would have and commented as follows:

My objection to this bylaw amendment is that it trumps state affiliate bylaws and attempts to dictate which of their state affiliate members will be permitted to attend Libertarian Party National Conventions as delegates.

The New York State Libertarian Party bylaws, for example, permit its members and elected state and local officers to be enrolled members of other political parties. This has always been the case in New York but recently, because of a law suit the NYLP joined in on, the New York State Board of Elections must now keep track of who enrolls as “Libertarian”. Despite this victory, many County Boards of Elections still list enrolled Libertarians as “Other”. This is wholly a symbolic victory since the New York Libertarian Party cannot nominate candidates in Convention in accordance with New York State Election Law and for all purposes, the Libertarian Party is treated as if it does not exist. In each election, every candidate must still file an Independent Nominating Petition, just as an Independent Candidate with no party affiliation is required to do. This is why many New York Libertarian Party members remain enrolled as members of other political parties.

The national Libertarian Party bylaws may soon be amended to require Libertarian Party National Convention Delegates to be either Sustaining Members of the national Libertarian Party or members of the State Affiliate Party from which they have been designated as delegates. If the proposed bylaw amendment regarding “enrollment” passes, a large number of designated New York Libertarian Party Members, who are members of their local State Affiliate will be disqualified as Delegates to the Libertarian Party National Conventions unless they are enrolled as Libertarian even though their State Affiliate does not have such a requirement.

Under the proposed bylaw amendment, not only will the National LP try to dictate who the State Affiliates may designate as delegates but the amendment could also be interpreted to dictate who may be allowed to be State and Local Officers of that State Affiliate. The last part of the proposed bylaw amendment indicates a person not enrolled locally as “Libertarian” will not be eligible to “hold any other position of trust or responsibility within the Party”. According to the National Libertarian Party Bylaws, “the Party” refers to the “Libertarian Party” and arguably to all its chartered affiliates. As a result, even officers serving in a County Libertarian Party Organization such as the Libertarian Party of Queens County may now be subject to this proposed national rule. Some might claim the bylaw amendment cannot be used in this manner but if it can be used to dictate who may be delegates from a State Affiliate, I see no reason why it cannot be used to claim that certain State or Local LP officers are ineligible to hold their positions.

Finally, many Libertarian Party members have enrolled as Republicans in order to vote for Ron Paul or Gary Johnson in the upcoming Republican Party primaries. Many consider themselves loyal Libertarian Party members and may be designated by their State Affiliates as delegates to the upcoming Libertarian Party National Convention. These delegates are hoping Gary Johnson or Ron Paul will seek the Libertarian Party’s Presidential Nomination and hope to vote for them as delegates in 2012, yet under the proposed “enrollment” bylaw amendment, none of these Ron Paul or Gary Johnson supporters will be able to attend the Libertarian Party National Convention even though they may be designated as delegates by their State Affiliate. 

For these reasons, I urge you to oppose this proposed bylaw amendment and to post your objections on all Libertarian Party message boards, blogs and lists.

Dr. Tom Stevens is the elected State Representative, Political Director and Membership Director of the Libertarian Party of Queens County. He also serves as the Chair of Empire State Libertarians.

42 thoughts on “Liberty Lion: Proposed LPUS Bylaw Amendment Takes Away Local Affiliate Authority

  1. Dr. Tom Stevens

    Since the proposed bylaw amendment will not take effect until the close of the 2012 LPUS National Convention, I re-wrote the following paragraph:

    Finally, many Libertarian Party members have enrolled as Republicans in order to vote for Ron Paul or Gary Johnson in the upcoming Republican Party primaries. Many consider themselves loyal Libertarian Party members and may be designated by their State Affiliates as delegates to upcoming Libertarian Party National Conventions. These delegates hope that Gary Johnson or Ron Paul seek or accept the Libertarian Party’s Presidential Nomination in 2012 or 2016. With Libertarian Party membership on the decrease, the last thing we need to do is alienate these Libertarian Party members who may be technically enrolled in their home state as “Republicans”.

  2. Kevin Knedler

    Ohio LP won’t allow registered R’s or registered D’s to be in leadership roles in the party. But, that is Ohio and state membership is determined by voting in a partisan primary. Plus, leaders in OHio must have signed the LP pledge of non-agression. If we didn’t have ballot access, we would fall back to sustaining members with national.
    So, yes we have people that need to make a decision every two years during primary. It would be the time to “pick a team”.

    KJK

  3. Kevin Knedler

    Plus, we have a statewide Central Committee that is on the primary ballot. All members of the Central Committee must be registered voter with the LP, via the primary.

    System works fine for us.
    It also is a method that helps reduce chance of a “hostile takeover” by a major party.

  4. Dr. Tom Stevens

    Re: 2 & 3:

    The Ohio LP can do what it pleases but my point is that the proposed bylaw amendment would prevent the New York State affiliate to decide which of its members it wishes to send to national LP Conventions based on its own rules.

    Can’t you see that?

  5. Aaron Starr

    @4

    Just bring some NY voter registration forms to the convention with you and have them register Libertarian before they are credentialed.

  6. paulie Post author

    DM

    From your link:

    “Right now there is a person by the name of Tom Stevens that is the founder, current national chair, and 2012 presidential candidate for something called the Objectivist Party. This person ALSO serves on the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania’s(LPPA) executive board, acts as coordinator for Pennsylvania’s Libertarian college groups, is THE LPPA.org forum moderator, and a voting member of the state executive board.”

    I didn’t know he was involved in PA, I only knew about NY.

  7. David Moser

    Paulie.
    I forgot to mention he just founded a Northampton Co, PA committee(he can’t get enough peeps for a county party….according to him on the forums that is my fault) . I have been under the impression that New York no longer wanted him. Funny that, it was our state chair, Lou Jasikoff, that brought Mr. Tom Stevens in to the LPPA and Lou himself has told me he had a falling out in New Jersey as their state chair……….of course Lou also has many other political directions including a page for “purple people” who want to move on from political parties……

    But yea……you can find Mr. Tom Stevens acting as admin on the forums on lppa.org Maybe you can even get in a chat with him about how some guys like TSA agents hands in their pants or listen to how he has handled “people like me” in New York’s LP Party. Always a bastion of decency and professionalism now that we have Mr. Tom Stevens keeping everyone on the forums straight!

  8. George Phillies

    @2

    You are describing, I hope correctly, Ohio law.

    Massachusetts is entirely different. We are preparing to re-register a dozen people as “Liberty” to serve as the electors for next year, “Liberty” being the Party of Joe Kennedy, to make sure that people can run as “Libertarian” in 2014.

  9. paulie Post author

    Lou himself has told me he had a falling out in New Jersey as their state chair……….of course Lou also has many other political directions including a page for “purple people” who want to move on from political parties……

    I didn’t know anything about either of those.

    More details?

  10. Manuel Gomez

    Paulie,

    Tom Stevens is in fact very active in the LPPA. His recent activity is chronicled in the LPPA forums in the form of minutes posted to the LPPA forum from the Northampton Co libertarian committee.

    He also made a very bizarre statement with regards to claims of his expulsion from the NYLP:

    “As an attorney and someone who speaks his mind, I can be a problem for the Pennyslvania LP if I start seeing stuffed ballots at state conventions or candidates who are not given a fair opportunity to compete for the nomination of our party. If I see anti-gay or anti-Muslim bias, I will not be silent and if I see a gubernatorial nominee who promises not to spend a single dime of his own money, I will make sure that point is known.”

    Original here

    Dave Moser’s “purple people” comment was in reference to one of Lou Jasikoff’s many websites – http://bepurple.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20&Itemid=34

  11. David Moser

    Paulie,
    Manuel beat me to it with the link. Here is the real zinger from that “site”

    Looking Forward to Growing BePurple
    Posted by Administrator / Trackback / August 26, 2011 / in The Purple View
    Blinklist!Blogmarks!BlinkBits!Ask!

    0 Comments

    Just wanted to share how happy I am to be working on BePurple with my friend Sean Colon. We go back to my NJ days and the Libertarians . . . my stint as Chair and also for running for office. Sean was always someone to step up to the plate, to cut to the chase, to see clearly what is the “purple” area in politics.

    I look forward to growing BePurple into an effective organization that can make a difference, that can offer a choice to the “status quo” politics of the old parties. Let’s make our purple concept grow!

    Now keep in mind he has been the LPPA (Pennsylvania State) Chair since spring…….this is written by him and dated Aug 26th 2011 and he talks about: “We go back to my NJ days and the Libertarians . . . my stint as Chair and also for running for office.” This sound like another guy maybe serving too many masters?

    “that can offer a choice to the “status quo” politics of the old parties. Let’s make our purple concept grow!”……..does this sound like a current state political party Chair?

    Anyone reading this that finds themselves in York, PA please look me up and buy me a drink cause these people are driving me to drinking….

  12. David Moser

    Paulie

    That is an interestingly good question….don’t know one way or the other but I found a currently active Queens, NY LP party Meetup page that has Mr. Tom Stevens marked as attending every meeting and still being listed as Membership director and state rep for the LPQC.

    Otherwise I would like to think he would be required to reside in the state to be on the state executive board and Northampton County to chair their committee but everything is so topsy-turvey in the commonwealth I doubt it would be enforced even if it was written.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp

    @15,

    Wow … I just re-read those threads, and am surprised that it had escaped my attention that Kristin Davis’s party line for governor of New York was arguably the former Boston Tea Party affiliate for that state.

    I wonder if Carl Milsted ever imagined the ramifications of the LP Reform Caucus’s 2006 semi-revolution!

  14. David Moser

    Thank you Chuck……believe you me…..the LPPA isn’t very happy with us. Hell, they tried to de-certify us twice in one meeting a couple of months ago. and most of the executive board refers to us as “the York problem”. I just forwarded the links Paulie provided above to the LPPA Yahoo business group(includes every voting member) so hopefully history does not have to completely repeat itself. I’m not holding my breath…..

    And a big THANK YOU Paulie for the links……if I can convince even a few with those links it might be the difference in how things go from here. Thank You.

  15. Chuck Moulton

    David, I’m for more activity both in York County and in Northampton County.

    I used to be very involved in the LPPA when I lived in Montgomery County. I hope I’m able to make it to a state convention sometime to hang out with my many old friends there. I still send PA a monthly pledge.

    Are Karl Spangler and Bill Keslar still involved in York County? And is Marakay Rogers involved locally?

  16. paulie Post author

    Kristin Davis’s party line for governor of New York was arguably the former Boston Tea Party affiliate for that state.

    Not to my knowledge.

    Was Stevens backing Davis? I thought he had his own candidate, Sam Sloan.

    But then Roger Stone and his group was working with both Davis and Paladino, so maybe Sloan and Stevens were connected to that and I just did not know about it?

  17. Manuel Gomez

    Karl Spangler is lingering around, though I would not label him as active. I am not originally from York, and do not know who Bill Keslar is; perhaps Dave is familiar with him.

    Marakay Rogers is not involved with the York County Libertarian Party in any capacity.

  18. Thomas L. Knapp

    Paulie @ 21,

    Dr. Stevens has proven, time and time again, that he’s capable of having several irons in the fire. Or hell, several irons in several fires. And no, I don’t intend that as an insult.

    Looking over the history, it looks like even if Stevens didn’t support Davis, he contended that the convention process unfairly excluded both Davis and Sloan.

    I was very specific in my claim: “Kristin Davis’s party line for governor of New York was arguably the former Boston Tea Party affiliate for that state.”

    When Stevens withdrew the BTP’s New York affiliate from the national BTP, it was mentioned that that organization would continue under the name “Personal Freedom Party.”

    And here’s the IPR article on Davis’s intended use of that party line.

    That later changed to the Anti-Prohibition Party — according to Wikipedia’s article on Davis, because of a name similarity conflict with another candidate.

    I suppose it could be just coincidence that Davis happened to pick the same name for her party line as Stevens had previously announced for his new party, but based on the involvement of both in the same race in the same state, starting in the same party (the LP), it’s not a real stretch to assume otherwise.

  19. George Phillies

    @5 Be sure that none of the people doing what you advocate are candidates or electors, or write off having them on the fall ballot.

    By the way, “No individual enrolled as a registered voter affiliated with another political party” does not correspond to Massachusetts election law, and if you replace “enrolled” with “registered” and “affiliated” with “enrolled”, you have to get those forms approved by the town clerks or city boards of election before it si true.

    Stevens’ analysis is quite solid.

    Some readers will recall we had the same argument in Massachusetts a decade ago; after unsuccessfully pushing the issue described here, the people in question substantially wrecked the local party association and left, the ringleader moving out of state and defecting to the Republicans.

  20. Steve Scheetz

    When I read about the proposed bylaws change, I had two reactions. first… I was a registered republican for a very long time (Even as county chair for Montco LP) because most of my friends were audited by the IRS when they changed their party affiliation to Libertarian! Second was that I really hate it when the big centralized party apparatus decides that it is good to dictate policy to state and county organizations…

    THIS BEING SAID… Since I have changed my affiliation to Libertarian, my mind has been changed 180 degrees about having people of other parties serving as officers within the organization. It is long since past time that we stand up and proclaim to the world who we are and what we are about! I hate it that it is coming down from on high, because the reality is simply this…. both local and state organizations should have been doing this for a long time… We cannot negotiate with republicans and democrats when the starting point is “they want our party dead”

  21. Mik Robertson

    The Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania already requires that all officers and voting delegates in convention be registered Libertarian voters unless prohibited by law. There is no residency requirement to be a member of the LPPA.

    It appears there is some confusion over the role of Dr. Stevens in the LPPA. To the best of my knowledge he is not a member of the LPPA Board of Directors, however he is acting as one of the moderators on the website forum. He has also been doing some coordination for student organizations, which are not affiliated with the LPPA. He may have helped to coordinate Northampton County to submit a request for committee recognition, however that request was signed by members residing in Northampton County.

    I think more activity is a good thing.

  22. Manuel Gomez

    Someone inquired as to Dr. Tom Stevens place of residence, so I point you to the following post by Stevens himself. Consequently, it also happens to be right on topic:

    “Although my family has roots in Pennsylvania (my father was born in Northampton), I currently live in New York and I am “prohibited by law” to register “Libertarian” in Pennsylvania. I understood this provision to apply to me and other out of state members of the LPPA.

    The provision seems to have been written to make sure Pennsylvania Republicans and Democrats did not join the LPPA and then take over the party – not that anyone would want it!” see original here

  23. paulie Post author

    @5 Be sure that none of the people doing what you advocate are candidates or electors, or write off having them on the fall ballot.

    That depends on the state. Laws vary.

  24. Dr. Tom Stevens

    There have been many speculations with respect to the Personal Freedom Party, Sam Sloan, Kristin Davis and Roger Stone and I will not clarify everything at this point. But I will say it is true I objected to the unfair manner in which Kristin Davis and Sam Sloan were denied access to the list of New York delegates and were therefore unable to encourage them to show up to support their candidacies.

    Davis then decided not to appear while Sam contested and then sued. Redlich got 27 delegates to vote in his favor in a nomination process which allowed people (regardless of eligibility to vote) to place paper ballots into a passing hat. There were witnesses to actual fraud taking place in the voting process.

    Roger Stone has credited Sam Sloan for bringing the Redlich article about adults having sex with underage children to his attention, which ultimately led to the “Sexual Predator” flyer and video. In fact, Sam Sloan’s campaign manager handed out Redlich’s blog article to NYLP Convention attendees in May, 2010.

    I have never said who I voted for in the November, 2010 gubernatorial race but I did say that Kristin Davis ran on the more libertarian platform.

  25. Manuel Gomez

    Thank you. I find it curious that an overwhelming measure of controversy seems to color many of the activities emanating from the organizations you’ve aligned yourself with, Dr. Stevens.

    Is it a mere perception or are matters as turbulent as they seem? Perhaps you’re not the instigator of any of these events, but there is certainly a common thread, and it appears woven with controversy.

  26. Shawn Levasseur

    When I read this proposal, it didn’t occur to me that this would apply to state chapters, merely the national party leadership.

    I would prefer the state chapters to make their own call for themselves, even though I think its a good idea, but should be handled by the local affiliates.

    If it is to apply or not apply to local parties, either way, it’s apparent that language needs to be clearer on this.

  27. Mike Seebeck

    “No individual enrolled as a registered voter affiliated with another political party, if he or she has the option of affiliating with the Libertarian Party, shall be eligible to serve as a Party employee, National Committee member, committee member, or delegate, or hold any other position of trust or responsibility within the Party.”

    The proposal only applies to the national Party as defined in Bylaw 1, except in terms of being a delegate, which is normally determined by the state affiliate parties. However, this proposal does not conflict with Bylaw 6, Section 3, either. Had the proposal been meant to affect state affiliates or below, it would have said so explicitly, yet it did not.

    The only impact beyond the national Party is adding a qualification for national convention delegates that they be registered to vote as a Libertarian *if they can*. How the convention credential committee would enforce that is unknown short of either requiring state delegation heads to verify the registrations of their delegates (can be reasonably done via voter registration dumps) or it’s done at registration one delegate at a time (a major PITA).

    Therefore this proposal does not take away any local affiliate authority as Dr. Stevens proposes. He has been habitually wrong when he was on the LP JudCom, and he continues that trend here.

  28. George Phillies

    @40 The proposal substantially screws up our plans for ballot access in Massachusetts for next year, in that if it were in effect for next year none of our convention delegates would be eligible to serve as electors. Indeed, it so specifically refers to an issue that has long been debated in Massachusetts that a cynic would suspect it was being written to target my state party.

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