LPCO Director and LNC Region 1 Representative Caryn Ann Harlos Files Suit in Colorado to Fight Restrictions on Political Speech

censored-screen-shotSuit was filed in the District Court for Colorado on behalf of Caryn Ann Harlos (Libertarian Party of Colorado Communications Director and Region 1 Representative of the Libertarian National Committee–personally and not in the names of these organizations), Kiyomi Bolick, and Andrew Madson alleging that Colorado Revised Statute 1-13-712, subsections 1 and 3, violate their civil rights to free political speech. The suit was filed against Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. A similar suit was filed yesterday by Senator Owen Hill and Scott Romano. There are several key differences and similarities between the two cases. The Hill Complaint did not name Mitch Morrissey and did not address subsection 3 of the Colorado Statute in question, while the Harlos Complaint did.

A copy of the Harlos Complaint is here:

Download (PDF, 209KB)

27 thoughts on “LPCO Director and LNC Region 1 Representative Caryn Ann Harlos Files Suit in Colorado to Fight Restrictions on Political Speech

  1. Andy

    Caryn Ann, I agree with what you are doing here, but there is a much bigger issue when it comes to free speech that Libertarians ought to be filing lawsuits over, and that is when ballot access petition signature gatherers are harassed, threatened, and run out of locations that carry public foot traffic, and in some of these cases, are even arrested (on false charges).

    This is a HUGE issue which makes ballot access a lot more difficult than it would be otherwise, and it is one of the biggest reasons why ballot access drives fail, or end up running over-cost.

    There have been MANY Libertarian Party candidates who failed to get on the ballot over the years because ballot access petition circulators were prohibited from gathering signatures at locations that carried public foot traffic. If you can’t get to the public, you can’t get any signatures, and if you are prevented from gathering signatures at locations that have a high volume of public foot traffic, and are instead relegated to locations with a low volume of public foot traffic, you will not get that many signatures.

    The Libertarian Party has had to spend THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of extra dollars every election cycle to do last minute saves on petition drives, and these situations occurred in large part because of petition circulators being (illegally) run out of locations that carried lots of public foot traffic by the police, security guards, or venue managers.

    Petition circulators have had their rights violated almost every time the Libertarian Party does a ballot access drive, and in some of these instances, petition circulators have been arrested (and falsely charged), and in some of these cases, petition circulators were “roughed up” by the police.

    What has been the response from Libertarian Party officials to remedy this re-occurring problem? The response has usually been TO DO NOTHING. That’s right, the Libertarian Party generally does NOTHING to back up any of the people who go out and ask the public to sign the petitions which are required for ballot access (without which the party would not have candidates on the ballot), and this is true regardless of whether the petition circulators are getting paid, or are unpaid volunteers.

    Here is what happens every election cycle. The Libertarian Party has to do a bunch of ballot access drives in a bunch of states to get candidates on the ballot. Civil rights violations usually happen every time the Libertarian Party does a ballot access drive. Sometimes it is just minor stuff, but other times it is pretty bad. Sometimes the situation is so bad that it reduces the signature production to the point where the drive fails, or where the party is faced with a choice, either spend a bunch of extra money on a “Hail Mary” play to try to save the petition drive, or fail to make the ballot.

    A lot of this stuff never gets reported the the general membership, and I found out over the last couple of LNC’s that most of the people on the LNC had no idea what was happening with ballot access, as all they knew what that they voted to approve money for one or more drives, but then they had NO IDEA what happened after that. Fortunately this is changing a bit this time after Chairman Sarwark nominated Ken Moellman to Chair the Ballot Access Committee, as finally, for the first time in the history of the party, the LNC has a Ballot Access Committee that is actually doing things, but even so, there is much more that needs to be done.

    The members of the Libertarian Party know that we got 50 state plus DC ballot access this year, for the first time since either 1996 or 2000 depending upon the criteria you want to use, but how many of the members know about all of the candidates for local and district offices who failed to make the ballot this year (as happened in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Alabama, and probably some other places)? How many of the members know about the expensive (and stressful) last minute saves that the party had to do because several petition drives were in danger of failing, which was in large part because of petition circulators being harassed, and (illegally) run out of locations that carry public foot traffic by the police and/or security guards and/or venue managers? How many members know about all of the civil rights violations that took place, which included false arrests? How many of the members know the real reasons that the party has not had ballot access in all 50 states plus DC in a long time (some of this was because of party mismanagement issues, but some of it was also because of petition circulators being illegally run out of locations)?

    There are already laws on the books that are supposed to protect our right to go out to places where the public has access to ask them to sign petitions or to register to vote. There are already multiple court precedents that have been settled in our favor which are supposed to reaffirm our right to go out to places that carry public foot traffic to ask people to sign petitions or to register the vote. THE PROBLEM IS THAT THESE LAWS ARE NOT BEING ENFORCED, AND THESE COURT RULINGS ARE NOT BEING ADHERED TO THROUGHOUT THIS COUNTRY. There are a few states where the laws and court rulings that are supposed to protect our rights to do this are being enforced more than others (like California, Washington, and Massachusetts), but even in these states there are still problems, and the situation is worse in most of the rest of this country.

    Those of you who never go out in public and engage in any first amendment activities, or who only do it on rare occasions, and in controlled setting, may have no idea how bad this problem is. The country is turning into more and more of a police state, and there is a major attack on free speech in this country.

    Remember this thread from right here on IPR about Paul and myself and some others being illegally run out of locations that carried public foot traffic during the Libertarian Party ballot access drive in Oklahoma? Here is the link for those who missed it or do not remember it. Click the link and scroll through the article and watch the video links that are posted, and then continue to scroll through the comments all the way to the bottom because there are move videos posted in the comments section of petitioners around the country being harassed and illegally run out of venues that carry public foot traffic.

    http://independentpoliticalreport.com/2015/09/oklahoma-petitioners-videotape-orders-to-leave-public-spaces-call-for-prosecution-of-illegal-removals/

  2. Andy

    Caryn Ann, assuming that you clicked the link and watched the videos, do you agree that this is a FAR MORE IMPORTANT issue about which the Libertarian Party ought to be doing something?

    Again, I agree with your lawsuit in Colorado, I’m just saying that we ought to be more proactive in doing things about the problem I am addressing, because it has a far greater impact on our party, as well as society in general (I consider free speech to be an essential element for a free society).

    The party can continue to sweep this issue under the rug, like it has been doing for many years now, and we will continue to needlessly fail on ballot drives, or have to spend a lot more money, and go through a lot more stress, than necessary to get on the ballot, or the party can finally grow a set of balls, and start doing things (like filing lawsuits) to address this re-occurring problem.

  3. Thomas L. Knapp Post author

    Andy,

    It isn’t “the Libertarian Party” doing something about this issue, it is “Caryn Ann Harlos” doing something about this issue — taking the state to court over it.

    The analog would not be “the Libertarian Party” doing something about your the issue you think is more important, it would be, um, YOU doing something about the issue you think is more important.

  4. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Thank you Tom.

    It is interesting how I have been given everyone else’s to-do lists the past week.

    I say – then go forth and do it.

    I do me. You do you and we stop telling other people what they should do.

    You know, be Libertarian.

    ;tldr did I just get “y’all are great but Beyoncé” ‘d?

  5. Robert Capozzi

    Cah; You know, be Libertarian

    Me. Love the sentiment of I’m gonna do me, yall do yall.

    And, yet, one does not see much flexibility from NAPSTERS re what constitutes an L. There it’s My Way or highway.

  6. Andy

    Caryn Ann, you are currently an elected representative to the Libertarian National Committee. Is it not the job of representatives to the Libertarian National Committee to address the needs/concerns of the members of the party?

    Do you think that what I said above is not a major problem, and do you think that it does not impede our access to the ballot and our ability to disseminate our message to the public, and do you think that the problems that i addressed above do not cause the Libertarian Party to spend lots of extra money and create lots of extra stress?

    No you might say that you are a region rep and I am not in your region. Yes, I am not currently in your region, but I do travel frequently, and I have spent lots of time in Colorado, plus this is a problem IN EVERY REGION AND IT IMPACTS THE ENTIRE PARTY.

  7. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Thank you Kyle. I consider this one of the more important things I have done in politics and freedom.

  8. Daniel Hayes

    Andy,

    Thank you for the work that you do to get ballot access petition signatures. The LP often gets signatures at a very good rate around the country and for that we are thankful.
    That all said, it takes a lot of nerve to make demands of those that are out there doing work on a constant basis like Caryn is and then pretty nearly DEMAND she do YOUR project, a project that would help you make money easier.
    You act like Caryn and the rest of the LNC(Which includes me) can just wave a magic wand and make things happen. DO you even hear yourself type? Caryn did the sort of thing I encourage LP members to do all around. Attack them on the “small” matters that take some Liberty from people. Either through lobbying or in this case where Caryn has set this fantastic example of using the courts to attempt to throw out some stupid law as unconstitutional, we have to start going after the “small” stuff first.

    You wrote this long screed that my eyes glazed over after the first few dozen lines. You want Pink Haired Fairy/ LNC to file a lawsuit regarding ballot access petitioning access to public spaces. That’s going to involve suits in dozens of states all with different laws etc. That sounds like something that would cost LOTS of money and that certain forces would bring a much more concerted effort against than trying to overturn a ballot selfie.

    I totally agree with Thomas Knapp’s response. YOU do it. I feel free to speak for Cary and myself because I have a better idea of how much she and I both separately do than other members of the LNC though I have a good idea many of them are doing a lot more than what people may think. We both have roles in our local, state and on the National LPs respectively. We drop more than 10-20 hours a week into each of them. We both occasionally need to work and make a living. We both have little in the way of social lives outside of our work in the LP. The same applies to many other LNC members. We don’t get paid for this shit. It’s a passion. It costs us lots of money because we believe in the cause.

    While we are all representatives of our members and we take that duty very seriously, at the end of the day we are volunteers. Of course we need to be responsive to our membership, but we can’t take on every pet project a member wishes us to. We need members to take on projects that are important to them. When members demand we give their special project attention because we put our own personal focus on our OWN pet project, it starts to get annoying. We are VOLUNTEERS, we are not slaves. We do have some say in how we spend our time and our lives. Instead of letting Caryn enjoy the satisfaction in the attention she has brought and work she has done on this project, she gets a post that to me comes of as trivializing what she has done. It strikes me as alluding that she has been inadequate. There’s a reason why so many people walk away from being active in the LP. It’s a thankless endeavor.

  9. Daniel Hayes

    As a petitioner, I would encourage YOU to work to get relationships established with ACLU and civil rights attorneys in various states and when your access is unconstitutionally denied to public space document and file the suit yourselves. In this matter you are the boots on the ground and best able to do it.

    I am not saying the LNC isn’t interested in it. I very much am. Some of the projects I would like to tackle during my term would be to get Tennessee and Alabama to allow Partisan L’s on their ballots like they do Independents. It bugs me to no end that because it is easier/less sigs that we put our LP Presidential Nominees on the ballot as an independent in these and other states. The L must be behind our nominees name in every state. That said, those are two states I want to personally help lobby their legislature for some reform. I am already loaded up to my eyeballs with projects so I may not be able to help, especially if those states are less than organized for taking on that task in their upcoming legislative session.

  10. Andy

    I have not finished reading the comments from Mr. Hayes, but he COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT OF MY POST. I was urging LNC REGION REPRESENTATIVE, Caryn Ann Harlots, as well and any other national or state committee members, to bring this issue, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT HAS CAUSED NUMEROUS LIBERTARIAN PARTY CANDIDATES TO FAIL TO QUALUFY FOR THE BALLOT OVER THE YEARS, AND WHICH HAS CAUSED THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY TO SPEND A LOT MORE MONEY THAN NECESSARY TO GET ON THE BALLOT OVER THE YEARS, to get the LNC, as well as state committees in states that are directly impacted, TO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM. I was NOT suggesting that Ms. Harlos go out and file a lawsuit on her own, but rather that she bring for a motion that the LNC start putting some of its resources into such lawsuits (which would be a far more useful allocation of LNC funds than some of the stupid things I have seen the LNC waste time and money on over the years, like sending $10,000 on the campaign of Nevada Assemblyman John Moore, without even vetting him beforehand). I would also suggested that thet the LNC, as well as state committees, develop a plan and protocol to proactively deal with such situations in the future, which would include contacting the legal authorities in whatever jurisdictions where the LP is going to conduct a ballot access drive and getting the local officials is said jurisdictions to clarify where petition circulators can go to collect signatures, and letting them know that if we are prohibited from gathering signatures in any location where the law and/or courts have already said that we have a right to do this, that we will respond with legal action against them. I really think that all petition circulators, both paid and unpaid volunteer, ought to start wearing body cameras while in the field gathering signatures.

    I have actually been arrested twice while in the course of gathering signatures for the LP (one of those times the police sprayed mace in my eyes, and the other time I sat in jail for almost two days), and i have been harassed and threanented and run out of locations on numerous occasions, and I am far from being the only person to whom this has happened. False charges were levied against me on both occasions, and both times all of the charges were dropped, but a lot of my time was wasted in the process. Oh yeah, and I received ZERO help from anyone in the Libertarian Party. I would still like to file lawsuits over these (and other) incidents, but it is hard to do this on your own, especially when you do not regularly reside in the state where such incidence takes place.

    I am really astounded by some of the comments here. One would think that people who supposedly want the Libertarian Party to be more successful, and who claim to be defenders of individual rights, would not respond in such a negative “Who cares?” manner. No wonder the Libertarian Party is not a more successful organization.

  11. NewFederalist

    Andy… you KNOW you are driving paulie nuts with all this “should read” stuff when you can simply edit the post yourself.

  12. Andy

    It is too much of a pain in the ass to log in from my phone, and I do not even remember the password, so I would have to search for it, which is also a pain in the ass from the phone.

    I fail to see how this is a relevant concern. If you do not like a post then scroll past it. How about addressing an issue that actually has substance?

  13. Daniel Hayes

    Andy,

    Maybe you missed it, but we have specific budget lines dedicated to litigation, most of which goes to law suits surrounding ballot access.

  14. paulie

    Some of the projects I would like to tackle during my term would be to get Tennessee and Alabama to allow Partisan L’s on their ballots like they do Independents. It bugs me to no end that because it is easier/less sigs that we put our LP Presidential Nominees on the ballot as an independent in these and other states. The L must be behind our nominees name in every state. That said, those are two states I want to personally help lobby their legislature for some reform. I am already loaded up to my eyeballs with projects so I may not be able to help, especially if those states are less than organized for taking on that task in their upcoming legislative session.

    We have a sponsor who introduces a bill to cut the petitioning in half every term in Alabama. The problem is that he is not really fully behind that bill as a priority. Last term the bill cleared both committees that it needed to clear and reportedly had the votes to pass on the floor if he had just moved it to the special orders calendar. The problem is that any members can move any bill to the special orders calendar, which practically speaking is the only way it will come up for a vote, but usually they defer to the bill’s sponsor to do that, and he didn’t. I think we have been through this dance several times with him, except that the bill doesn’t always make it through the committees. Instead, the only thing that did actually pass, and which he enthusiastically supported, was moving our deadline from September to August, supposedly so active duty military voters could get their ballots on time.

  15. paulie

    Andy… you KNOW you are driving paulie nuts with all this “should read” stuff when you can simply edit the post yourself.

    I haven’t seen any articles posted either, except a draft of something that had already been posted by someone else earlier 🙂

  16. Daniel Hayes

    Paulie,

    Who’s the rep for Coffee County/ Enterprise? I have a few pieces of property out there. While I am not a resident, I am a tax payer there.

  17. paulie

    Who’s the rep for Coffee County/ Enterprise? I have a few pieces of property out there. While I am not a resident, I am a tax payer there.

    What kind of rep do you mean? The LPA is organized into 4 regions, and that section of the state is represented by Dennis Knizley of Mobile. See contact info at https://lpalabama.org/leadership/

    The Alabama Legislative districts to find your state reps based on the property you own there can be seen at http://capwiz.com/state-al/home/ Since we do have legislative gerrymandering, it’s possible that you may have more than one district for the properties you own, but it’s pretty low pop out there so they may all be in one.

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