Gary Johnson Says He’ll Accept Public Funding In GA-LP Debate

The Libertarian Party of Georgia is hosting a debate right now at their 2012 state convention. Governor Gary Johnson was asked about matching funds for his campaign and he confirmed that he would accept matching funds, assuming he was eligible.

The entire debate can be viewed here. The run-time is around an hour and a half.

74 thoughts on “Gary Johnson Says He’ll Accept Public Funding In GA-LP Debate

  1. George Phillies

    Eligibility for matching funds

    http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/pubfund.shtml

    In order to be eligible for matching funds as a Libertarian candidate in the general election, you need 5% of the vote in the general election, slightly more than the 0.2% that Johnson got in his primary or the 1% that any candidate of our party has at best received. You will be paid, after the election is over.

    On the bright side, I remember in ’96 being asked if I would take matching funds if my state party got me on the ballot for US Senate, and having to deal with a fellow who could not imagine that there were no matching funds for US Senate candidates.

  2. Richard Winger

    Every state Libertarian Party that has been eligible for funds from state income tax form checkoffs (in the states that let state income taxpayers check a box to choose a party they want to help) has accepted them. That includes the Libertarian Parties of Alabama, Arizona, California (quite a few years ago), Idaho, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, and Utah.

    The Libertarian Party, and other co-plaintiffs, won a lawsuit in 1980 to gain cheap postage rates that the Democrats and Republicans had.

  3. Richard Winger

    Primary season matching funds are obtained by any person seeking the nomination of a party for president, raising at least $5,000 in each of 20 states. It is OK to combine funds received while seeking the nomination of various parties. Candidates who switched include John Anderson in 1980 and Pat Buchanan in 1999.

  4. Robert Capozzi

    4 rw, so if GJ meets the 5k/20 state hurdle, the funds he’s raised in aggregate will be matched, correct?

  5. Ryan Brennan

    Accepting public funding is NOT Libertarian. This, along with Johnson’s support of a FairTax, and his foreign policy with Israel, is not going to run over too well with certain Libertarians.

  6. Andy

    I remember when I joined the Libertarian Party back in 1996 that I was impressed by the fact that then Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Harry Browne could have taken matching funds, but that he turned them down because he didn’t believe in welfare for politicians.

  7. Aaron Starr

    @1

    I predict that Gary Johnson will win the Libertarian Party’s nomination during the first round of voting.

  8. bruuno

    Buddy Roemer just qualified for matching funds. I believe Lenora Fulani even got matching funds back in the day. Johnson will too.
    It would be foolish to reject them, whether you think it is “libertarian” or not.

  9. Darryl W. Perry

    “It would be foolish to reject them, whether you think it is “libertarian” or not.

    If you think it is “libertarian” and are seeking the nomination of the LIBERTARIAN Party, it is not foolish to stick to your principles!

  10. Richard Winger

    None of the commenters above has said anything about my points, that all state Libertarian Parties have always taken the money, and that the national Libertarian Party sued and won for cheap postage rates in 1980. Do people think that was a mistake? After all, that is the party itself benefiting from a government program, whereas in the case of federal primary season matching funds, the party doesn’t apply for them; the candidate does.

  11. Trent Hill Post author

    Richard–one could easily distinguish the voluntary “check off” funds from the compulsory public matching funds. But, I don’t care enough to make that argument.

  12. George Phillies

    Goddess forbid that anyone should inquire whether or not there is even the most modest likelihood that Johnson will qualify for primary funds, or alternatively whether or not he has already done so.

    General election funds are based on getting 5% of the vote in the general, which would be a significant increase over his vote in primaries that he has entered (I am told that there was one).

  13. Andy

    “Trent Hill // Feb 25, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Richard–one could easily distinguish the voluntary ‘check off’ funds from the compulsory public matching funds. But, I don’t care enough to make that argument.”

    I was thinking the same thing that Trent was thinking. The check off boxes that some states have on their state income tax form is voluntary, so therefore I don’t see a problem taking that money, especially since it is targeted to go to the political party of one’s choice.

    Matching funds are a different story.

  14. Austin Cassidy

    George, I believe you only need to raise $100k to qualify for matching funds… $250 max per contribution counts and it must be from 20 states contributing at least $5,000 total each.

    Basically, you have to prove that at least 20 different people in each of 20 different states will give you at least $250 each.

    The 5% you’re talking about is, as I understand it, a multi-million dollar grant given to a PARTY if their candidate tops 5% of the vote in the previous election. So if Johnson gets the nomination and polls 5% in November of 2012, the Libertarian Party would be eligible for a gigantic check for the 2016 cycle.

    Johnson’s campaign wouldn’t get anything, and wouldn’t have any say in accepting the funds or not… but the LP would.

    Matching funds, the funds the Johnson campaign could tap into by showing their ability to raise $100k in the required manner, come from funds contributed by taxpayers voluntarily checking a box on their tax returns to donate $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

    That’s why Richard Winger is pointing out that the LP has in the past been very open to accepting similar funds in the past.

  15. Let the T-Rex of Talk Radio Entertain U2day

    I don’t mind a bit GJ or any LP candidate getting some of MY TAX dollars to FIGHT the BEAST ! Time to start PLAYING to WIN friends !! I too say GJ wins on the first ballot in Vegas ( unless Ron Paul enters the race VERY soon ) !!!

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  16. Daniel Wiener

    I’m not sure if the cases Richard Winger cites are totally comparable. As far as postage rates are concerned, we are dealing with a government monopoly for most political mailings (and certainly that was true much more so back in 1980 when the LP sued). The LP was merely insisting on equal standing with the major parties when dealing with that monopolistic entity. USPS rates are set artificially low for political mailings, but then you can say the same about book rates and some other categories. The amount of cross-subsidizing and profit or loss involved is difficult to tell, especially with the USPS’ bloated workforce and pension issues, so who’s to know what a “fair” rate really should be? Things would be different in a free market, and indeed these days FedEx and UPS and the Internet are having a huge impact on USPS.

    Regarding state check-offs for political parties, I’m only familiar with the California system. California no longer offers contributions to political parties on its tax form, but back when it did those contributions were IN ADDITION to any tax you had to pay the state. So they were truly voluntary contributions, and other than the fact that they were routed through the government (presumably incurring a minor processing cost) there is little that libertarians could object to.

    The situation is more complicated with federal matching funds, where you can check off a $3 “contribution” which earmarks the money to a pool for Presidential candidates. Not checking off that option doesn’t reduce the taxes the IRS requires you to pay, it just redirects the money to the general fund. So it’s not quite a “voluntary” contribution in the same sense that a state checkoff is. On the other hand, it is directing some of the money which was stolen from you to your preferred expenditure. As long as we have taxation, it would be a libertarian step in the right direction if ALL government expenditures were handled in this manner, so that taxpayers had a direct say in how their money was to be spent and politicians had to lobby taxpayers to support their preferred appropriations.

    A similar issue (which Richard didn’t mention) occurs when the Libertarian Party participates in state primary elections. Those clearly involve costs which the government is paying for with taxpayer funds. Should libertarians forego ballot access instead? Continuing that line of reasoning, should libertarians refuse to drive on government-built roads? As long as tax money is being forcibly extracted from us, the use of the resulting products or services which the government provides (however wasteful and inefficient they may be) as a way of reclaiming part of that money does not seem un-libertarian.

  17. Robert Capozzi

    13 gp: Goddess forbid that anyone should inquire whether or not there is even the most modest likelihood that Johnson will qualify for primary funds, or alternatively whether or not he has already done so.

    me: The Goddess may have forbidden it, but I did it anyway @5.

    You seem to be quite expert in FEC matters, GP. What’s your take? Does GJ qualify for primary matching dollars or not?

  18. Robert Capozzi

    If one is a NAP absolutist, would not running for office require that — if elected — the candidate would a) refuse compensation and b) advocate an immediate end to all State coercion.

    If not, how is that different than refusing Federal matching funds?

    If a NAP absolutist would NOT refuse compensation or call for an immediate end to all State coercion if elected, is that candidate committing fraud?

  19. Bill Wood

    From the FEC:
    Where does the money come from?
    The public funding of Presidential elections is not financed by a standard Congressional appropriation. Instead, the program is funded by the three dollar checkoff that appears on federal income tax forms.

  20. Robert Capozzi

    more…

    Has anyone ever seen a written rationale for a NAP anarchist being compensated by the State? For ex., Lew Rockwell once drew a government check as RP’s chief of staff. Walter Block has worked for government universities.

    I’d think there must be something somewhere in the archives about this subject, but my quick search reveals none….

  21. George Phillies

    @19 You still need a fix on your sarcasm meter.

    The requirement for the primaries is $5000 in each of 20 states, not more than $250 from a single donor.

    Because we do not see names and addresses of donors of less than $200, only the candidate’s accountant knows for sure.

    For the general election campaign, the requirement is 5% of the vote for the candidate to qualify for any money, and the candidate must invest under $50,000 of his own money and limit expenditures. Oh, and you get paid after the general election campaign is over.

    Primary eligibility is possible but not more…Johnson would need a very lucky donor distribution to fill in the last few states…and general election eligibility looks extremely unlikely.

  22. Jarvis Jones

    Gary Johnson is properly positioned to actually receive the matching funds. He is polling very well. He thinks of receiving the money for the Libertarian party to continue to voice their ideals.

  23. paulie

    He also has vote counts in a real primary where he did much less well than those polls.

    Are you referring to Republicans who voted for him in a non-binding Republican primary well after he quit that race?

  24. paulie

    Question:

    For the purpose of determining whether Johnson qualifies for primary matching funds, is his Republican run until December 28, 2011 treated as separate from his Libertarian run since then, or as part of one continuous primary campaign?

  25. paulie

    I too say GJ wins on the first ballot in Vegas ( unless Ron Paul enters the race VERY soon ) !

    In the unlikely case that Ron Paul goes LP, he can do it 15 minutes before the vote and still win easily.

    Ventura could also make it competitive.

    Otherwise, I think you are correct.

  26. Thomas L. Knapp

    GP@24,

    “For the general election campaign, the requirement is 5% of the vote for the candidate to qualify for any money, and the candidate must invest under $50,000 of his own money”

    Interesting. That might explain why Johnson doesn’t just make good out of his own pocket on the debt his campaign is being sued over.

  27. Andy

    “Daniel Wiener // Feb 26, 2012 at 4:47 am

    I’m not sure if the cases Richard Winger cites are totally comparable. As far as postage rates are concerned, we are dealing with a government monopoly for most political mailings (and certainly that was true much more so back in 1980 when the LP sued). The LP was merely insisting on equal standing with the major parties when dealing with that monopolistic entity. USPS rates are set artificially low for political mailings, but then you can say the same about book rates and some other categories.”

    I was thinking the same thing when it comes to postage rates.

  28. Darryl W. Perry

    One way to avoid the added taxpayer costs of printing names of LP candidates on general election ballots, is to support a repeal of government issued ballots. Allow each voter (or party) to create their own ballot- you know, the way they did before the “secret ballot” was instituted.

  29. Andy

    Does anyone know if it would be legal for the Libertarian Party and/or a Libertarian Party candidate to accept matching funds, but then instead of spending the matching funds on their campaigns, sending the money back to the tax payers?

    It may be kind of a pain in the butt to administer, but I was thinking something along the lines of, “Hey, we got this big check from the government, but we don’t believe that we have a right to spend your money, so contact us and we’ll send back your portion of the money.”

    I heard a story about a libertarian group based in San Fransisco, CA that got raided by the police back in the 1980’s. I think that it was Laissez Faire Books. Apparently somebody had called in a false tip to the police that they were dealing drugs. The police raided their store and did a lot of property damage. They got sued and lost and had to pay a settlement to Laissez Faire Books. The folks at Laissez Faire Books didn’t think that it was right for them to keep the money since it came out of the city budget which meant that it was tax payers money, so they offered a refund to everyone in San Fransisco. They put all of the money from the settlement in coins and kept it in a huge jar in their store, and any San Fransisco resident could come in to the store and fill out a paper and would then get to claim their refund out of the settlement.

    It might be cool if the Libertarian Party and/or a Libertarian Party candidate could accept matching funds only to return the funds back to the tax payers.

  30. Richard Winger

    #36, when candidates receive primary season matching funds, they must spend that money on their campaign. The FEC audits such candidates and sometimes long after the election is over, demands a partial refund for all the spending that the FEC feels wasn’t legal. The FEC has, however, repeatedly ruled that the money can be spent on general election ballot access for that candidate’s favorite party, whether the candidate who got the primary season matching funds actually got that party’s nomination or not. Johnson could spend the money to help the LP with its more difficult remaining petition drives, such as Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and maybe some more petitioning in Oklahoma.

  31. Bill Wood

    According to the FEC people gave the money to be used by the Candidate. Lets think if the LP Candidate received this money it could be used to help elect a Libertarian to office. Those elected would turn around and cut government spending saving millions and just maybe bringing the troops home saving lives. I can deal with a LP Candidate accepting a million or two that people donated for an increase chance of saving billions of taxpayer money and lives.

  32. Robert Capozzi

    35 dwp: One way to avoid the added taxpayer costs of printing names of LP candidates on general election ballots, is to support a repeal of government issued ballots.

    me: Let’s think this through. Some states don’t even print ballots. Those that do have pretty full plates sorting out votes, it seems. But even if the LP “supported” this, what does that have to do with “avoiding” anything? The LP “supports” lots of things that don’t come to fruition…in fact, MOST things the LP supports don’t come to fruition and therefore don’t avoid the long arm of the State. The LP has supported abolition of the income tax for some time, yet we still have an income tax.

    Am I missing something here?

  33. Darryl W. Perry

    RC – maybe I should have elaborated for the functionally illiterate.
    Maybe I should have included “lobby for, petition and get legislation passed…” however, I thought that those verbs were implied.

    My point being that if government’s did NOT print ballots – as happened in the past – the small cost of ink used to add the name of LP candidates would be saved, in addition to the cost of printing the names of all other candidates.
    I also (wrongly) assumed that it was implied that paper ballots are desired as opposed to computers for elections.

  34. Andy

    Bill Wood said: “Lets think if the LP Candidate received this money it could be used to help elect a Libertarian to office. Those elected would turn around and cut government spending saving millions and just maybe bringing the troops home saving lives. I can deal with a LP Candidate accepting a million or two that people donated for an increase chance of saving billions of taxpayer money and lives.”

    This is the argument in favor of accepting matching funds. The argument against accepting them is that it will cause the Libertarian Party to look like hypocrites. The Libertarian Party claims to be the party of principle, one of which is opposition to the welfare state, including welfare for politicians.

    I can see why some people favor the idea of the Libertarian Party accepting matching funds, but there could also be a serious downside by taking them because it will reduce the party’s credibility. It’s like, “I’m against the welfare state, and now I’m going to use my welfare check to help deliver the message about how I’m against the welfare state.”

  35. Alan Pyeatt

    Does anybody really think that matching funds will make the difference in whether we win the White House this year?

    Didn’t think so.

  36. Andy

    “Michael H. Wilson // Feb 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Andy the party’s membership in 1999 was over 33K now it is down to about 13K. Our credibility is the last thing we’ll lose at this point.”

    I don’t believe the fact that the Libertarian Party has refused matching funds has anything to do with the decline in party membership.

  37. Andy

    “Alan Pyeatt // Feb 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    Does anybody really think that matching funds will make the difference in whether we win the White House this year?

    Didn’t think so.”

    Matching funds didn’t really help Pat Buchanan that much as Buchanan didn’t receive that many more votes than Harry Browne did in 2000, even though Buchanan was more well known and had a lot more money than Browne.

  38. Bill Wood

    Andy, the money is donated by people to give to Candidates for President, the money isn’t taken from the taxpayers by force. If is taken by force and given to campaigns then that would be seen as welfare. This is a donation, given by people of their own free will for the purpose to give to campaigns.

    No a couple million probably would not help win the White House, but it would go a long way helping down ticket campaigns.

  39. matt cholko

    I’m not sure it is fair to call the $3 that a taxpayer directs to this purpose a donation. According to Wikipedia, and my memory, form 1040 has a check-off box for the user to say yes to the questions – “Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?” I believe it also says, “doing so will not reduce your refund.”

    This means, according to Wikipedia, that “Checking the box does not change the amount of an individual’s tax or refund. The $3 is paid by the government. In other words, checking the box causes the federal government to receive $3 less in tax revenue for other spending, than if you hadn’t checked the box.”

    So, this isn’t really a donation by the taxpayer. It is more like the taxpayer having direct control of how $3 of their tax money will be spent.

  40. matt cholko

    With that said, I would not oppose an LP candidate accepting matching funds, much like I don’t oppose those who are eligible for food stamps, or medicaid, or housing assistance taking such welfare benefits.

    The money has already been stolen from the taxpayers. Lets put it to good use.

  41. Andy

    “Bill Wood // Feb 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Andy, the money is donated by people to give to Candidates for President, the money isn’t taken from the taxpayers by force. If is taken by force and given to campaigns then that would be seen as welfare. This is a donation, given by people of their own free will for the purpose to give to campaigns.”

    It doesn’t really sound like a “donation” to me, it sounds more like directing money that is already being taken in taxes towards a specific program.

  42. Andy

    I don’t really consider Johnson accepting matching funds to be the biggest strike against him.

    The biggest strikes against him in my opinion are his support of the Fair Tax and his support of at least some US interventionist foreign policy.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    42 dwp: …maybe I should have elaborated for the functionally illiterate.

    me: Is that really necessary?

    Apparently, I have not made my point clear, so let me try again. If the LP wants to “avoid” something, it has to have the ability to make change, to effectuate a systemic reform.

    In this case, you have a range of changes you advocate. In the meantime, however, the system is what it is. There is no “avoiding” it. There is only DEALING WITH IT. Wishing it away doesn’t work.

    It sounds like you are advocating an elaborate, multi-step change to the system…first switching all voting back to State-issued paper ballots, later to be replaced with nothing, or something.

    Now, that may or may not be a compelling vision, but whatever you seem to be pointing to seems quite grandiose and, frankly, unlikely to happen. If you are suggesting the the LP marshall all 15K or so of us to lobby for the Perry Electoral Reform Plan (PERF), my feedback is that is likely not the highest and best use of a small asset base.

    I am open-minded, however. Have you published a case for this PERF you could direct us to?

  44. Robert Capozzi

    43 A: The Libertarian Party claims to be the party of principle, one of which is opposition to the welfare state, including welfare for politicians.

    me: Andy, yes, it seems mildly hypocritical. Have you not had the experience of describing L-ism and gotten the questions about whether you went to public schools and driven on public roads? The charge of hypocrisy comes with the territory.

    Do you believe that Ls, if elected, should not take compensation? Should Ls run, then, for office with the promise that he or she won’t take the paycheck?

  45. Robert Capozzi

    45 ap: Does anybody really think that matching funds will make the difference in whether we win the White House this year?

    me: Straw man! AP, do you think there was a difference between the Clark and Marrou campaigns?

  46. Sane LP Member

    Membership down?
    A few reasons could be
    #1 Aging crowd from the 1970’s and 1980’s who are heading to the retirement village.
    #2 Not agressively appealing to the Gen X and Gen Y group, especially Gen Y. They are running towards Ron Paul. Those voters could be in the LP camp if it would get its crap together.

  47. Darryl W. Perry

    @RC – I support lobbying for MANY things,one of which is electoral reform.

    In my book Duopoly: How the Republicrats Control the Electoral Process I give several proposals for reform.

    I’ve made the case that all votes should be write-in votes.
    http://www.freepatriot-press.com/2010/09/should-all-votes-be-write-in-votes.html
    “Maybe it’s time to get the government out of the business of deciding who one is allowed to vote for. I wouldn’t be opposed to returning to the pre-1888 ballot method of allowing people or groups to print their own ballots with the names of their preferred candidates.”

  48. Ad Hoc

    I don’t really consider Johnson accepting matching funds to be the biggest strike against him.

    The biggest strikes against him in my opinion are his support of the Fair Tax and his support of at least some US interventionist foreign policy.

    I agree.

  49. Ad Hoc

    #1 Aging crowd from the 1970?s and 1980?s who are heading to the retirement village.
    #2 Not agressively appealing to the Gen X and Gen Y group, especially Gen Y. They are running towards Ron Paul. Those voters could be in the LP camp if it would get its crap together.

    Bingo!

  50. Robert Capozzi

    57 dwp: I support lobbying for MANY things,one of which is electoral reform.

    me: First, thanks to AH, it should be PERP, which has a certain ring to it.

    Ya know, DWP, I’ve not had the pleasure of reading your book. There is a certain appeal for me that all votes should be write-in. It would require, for ex., voters to do a LOT of research and probably bring their research with them into ballot boxes.

    My sense is that electoral process reforms, inc. PERP, are just not top of mind for most citizens. I do think the idea that our politics is broken is reasonably accepted in the public square.

    I don’t see a constituency for PERP, however. The idea seems unripe. Myself, I’d say we Ls have numerous ripe ideas to keep us busy for decades.

    My sense is that politics require focus. There are lots of great ideas whose time hasn’t come, and my view is to table those — like PERP — for a later date.

  51. Johncjackson

    As a Libertarian, I can’t support Gary Johnson. If he were a good libertarian, he would not run for office at all.

  52. Doug Craig

    From the FEC website (the money is from theft)

    To qualify for public funding, Presidential candidates and party convention committees must first meet various eligibility requirements, such as agreeing to limit campaign spending to a specified amount. Once the Federal Election Commission determines that eligibility requirements have been met, it certifies the amount of public funds to which the candidate or convention committee is entitled. The U.S. Treasury then makes the actual payments from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. This fund consists of dollars voluntarily checked off by taxpayers on their federal income tax returns. (In 1993, the taxpayer checkoff was increased from $1 to $3. Public Law 103-66) The checkoff neither increases the amount of taxes owed nor decreases any refund due for the tax year in which the checkoff is made.

  53. Darryl W. Perry

    RC “There are lots of great ideas whose time hasn’t come, and my view is to table those — like PERP — for a later date.”

    me: I realize that a lot of people will not lobby for some of what I advocate and/or support. However, while some people are “focused” on one or two issues only, things like “Top Two” get passed and lessen voter choice.

  54. Robert Capozzi

    64 dwp, yes, life is SO unfair. And, yet, it goes on.

    fwiw, I don’t think one or two issues are comprehensive enough. My guess is more like 10 issues and a theme. PERP doesn’t make the cut for me, but it is an interesting idea…

  55. Hardy Macia

    Sum it all up…Yes matching funds will help the campaign. It is best to donate as much as your can up to $250 before the LP Convention for Gary Johnson. If you were going to donate $100 before and $100 after, donate it all before so all $200 is matched and not just $100. (If you can donate more than $2500 then it is best to donate $2500 now and then another $2500 after the nomination to maximize your donation.)

    States still needing additional donations are CT, MA, MI, MO, NH, NJ, NV, OR, TN, WI. Other states could potentially be part of the 20 states needed to qualify but these are the closest.

    https://donate.garyjohnson2012.com/

  56. TANSTAAFL

    Here is why he should take them:

    1.) Not taking funds does not result in them being returned to the taxpayers.
    2.)Your two major competitors will gladly take the funds and use them against us.
    3.) If we can get a Libertarian in the oval office or congress they can fight to have public funds removed.
    4.) The process for state check-off money is the same for the presidential funds and state parties happily accept them and use them to compete with the Dems and Repubs (In both cases checking the box doesn’t change how much you owe, it just directs $3 from your return to to that fund)
    5.)You have to play the game to win. That doesn’t mean you sacrifice your principles but you do have to be savvy and pragmatic while also staying true to your core values. Accepting public funds while stating that you will push to eliminate them if elected is an example of striking that balance.

    And for those that think it will hurt his credibility how badly did Obama suffer after he promised to accept public financing and then reversed himself when he could collect more by turning it down. The reality is that voters care little for that. Our base cares, but to win elections you have to appeal to voters outside our base. If we refuse to do that then there is little point in continuing to use a political party as our vehicle for change.

  57. Wahid T. Faisal

    @69 Thank you for your opinion.

    The more interesting question to me is whether he will qualify.

  58. Nick Kruse

    While I agree that public funding is not a libertarian idea, it would be dumb of any candidate for public office to not use the legal resources like this available to their campaign.

  59. George Phillies

    “45 ap: Does anybody really think that matching funds will make the difference in whether we win the White House this year?”

    Yes. And several of his local trolls will say so.

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