This post originally appeared on 71 Republic, who pulled it down hours later with this statement. Its author, Paul Grindle archived it here, from which IPR pulled it for this post. As an aside, 71 Republic’s defensive assertion that “the victor should be selected on the basis of their ideology” after promoting Smith previously here is curious in the context of a currently running series in favor of libertarian monarchism.
Paul Grindle writes:
Joshua Smith’s run for Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee has been one of the party’s most brutally scrutinized chairman campaigns in recent memory. Everything from his job to his children to his drinking has come under the aggressive and disorganized microscope of the Convention’s delegates. He has been subjected to sickening mockery of his admirable struggle to obtain employment, and his heartfelt openness about his past drinking and drug problems. His treatment at the hands of his opposition has only fueled the fire of the Mises Caucus of the Libertarian Party, whose endorsement and support have been the main energy behind his campaign. Throughout all the attacks, Joshua Smith has maintained a constant refrain: “I’m a normal, blue collar American with normal, blue collar American problems.”
But on June 14th, the Oregon Department of Justice’s Division of Child Support (DCS) filed a Notice of Intent to Suspend License against the aspiring chairman. Citing an unpaid child support arrears of $27,037.90, Oregon DCS will suspend his driver’s license within 30 days of the filing unless he enters into a written compliance agreement with the court. This is contrary to his insistence on that same day that “I pay now, and that’s all anyone really needs to know.” This is not a one-off statement by Joshua Smith. Despite DCS records showing he waited on payment until early 2017 and ceased payment this April, he asserted in the same Facebook thread, “I won’t have any financial issues that will keep me from the work I plan to do for the party.”
That assertion may not be the case for incumbent Chairman Nicholas Sarwark’s main challenger. In the same thread, Mr. Smith explains that his campaign has fundraised “a little under 10k” and that he has “spent over 5k of my own money.” However, his campaign is not an incorporated entity. This means every dollar donated to him is legally considered a gift to his person, a reality he acknowledges in that thread. That puts the money in the legal possession of someone who, as the Notice of Intent above lays out, is legally obligated to pay $458 in child support every month.
By having collected the donations as personal gifts, he now risks the court deciding that the $15,000 he spent on his chairmanship race was legally obligated to go, in part, to his outstanding child support arrears. Mr. Smith insists he has checked “more than once” that his campaign fundraising, which he classifies as “gifts,” is not considered personal income. But according to Oregon Administrative Rule 137-050-0715(4)(e), when calculating child support owed, “Actual income includes but is not limited to: Inheritances, gifts and prizes.” This could pose a significant legal threat to Mr. Smith, as he has been taking in thousands in “actual income” despite owing over $27,000 in unpaid child support.
These child support obligations currently plaguing Joshua Smith come from a custody agreement established in early 2014 with his ex-girlfriend, which was shared with 71 Republic by one of his ex’s representatives. His ex will be referred to here as Miss Jones. All names (except Mr. Smith’s), lawyers, case numbers, court personnel and locations, places of employment, and ages of the litigants are blacked out in all sourcing documentation to preserve the privacy of all parties involved.
The court case that established this agreement itself came from a long and bitter struggle between Miss Jones and Mr. Smith, with both sides’ stories in stark contrast. To obtain a better record of the events that occurred during the custody battle, 71Republic has uncovered a now-archived GoFundMe set up by Mr. Smith in 2013 to obtain a lawyer to fight for custody of his son. According to the GoFundMe, upon being alerted of Miss Jones’ pregnancy, he initially expressed disbelief that he could’ve been the father. This, Smith alleges, was followed by a series of threats by Miss Jones that “I would never get custody, and that she would kidnap him, move out of state, and never let me see him.”
Miss Jones describes it differently. “He only saw me once when I was pregnant and he came over 3AM drunk from the bar,” she recalled in correspondence provided by her representative to 71Republic. Contrary to his insistence that she was going to kidnap him, she claims, “He knew, I messaged him a week after I found out. [I begged] for him to attend the appts, ultrasound. Just anything. He didn’t.”
Six days after his son was born, Joshua Smith claims to have met the child over pizza with Miss Jones. “From that moment on,” Mr. Smith explained, “I knew I could never be away from him.” He proceeded to spend considerable amounts of time at Miss Jones’ residence to bond with his son. But things quickly soured, and as is often the case with Mr. Smith’s past, the stories of what occurred are in conflict. Mr. Smith’s GoFundMe lists a series of grievances against her: she would let him cry himself to sleep; she demanded he follow her rules even on comforting the child when crying; she refused to let him watch over his son alone; and rather than post pictures of him on Facebook, she would only post pictures of her deceased first daughter.
These last two complaints should be understood with context. In late 2011, Miss Jones’ first child was brutally murdered in the bathtub by blunt force trauma to the head. The culprit was her boyfriend at the time, who was watching their one-year old daughter alone while she was out working. Mr. Smith felt suspicious of her involvement in the death, stating “[Miss Jones] had said to the authorities that she had no idea that her one-year old daughter had been being abused, but sometimes would contradict that statement in things said to me.”
He went on to paint a portrait of a woman losing her mind. “About two weeks in to dating this woman, I started to notice that things were not right. She would take things I said, completely switch them up, and start serious fights over them. I am not talking about normal fights, I am talking about me being scared to go to sleep around her kind of fights. She showed signs of being a sociopath, and somewhat borderline personality disorder. There was a very real disconnect between her mental state and reality. It honestly scared the shit out of me. It eventually led to me cutting her out of my life.”
Naturally, Miss Jones disagreed with that characterization. When asked if she felt he was trying to play the victim, she responded by pointing, unprompted, to his GoFundMe page. “It was very hurtful because he was trying to make me out as a bad mom n talked about my daughter. Joshua is a sick man and I hope he gets help.” But disagreements over parenting wasn’t all she alleged. A restraining order was obtained. “Joshua was emotionally abusive towards me. Some mild physical. It wasn’t enough to keep the RO,” an order Mr. Smith referred to as “perjury ridden.”
His future behavior would eventually prove enough to obtain another one. As outside journalists began to piece this story together and requested detail and comment from Miss Jones, he and his mother began to harass her, Miss Jones’ representative alleges. The harassment has continued to such a degree that, according to her representative, a new restraining order is going to be filed against him this week.
Ultimately, despite a public announcement to a local radio station that he was meeting with his lawyer to prepare for the case, Mr. Smith represented himself in court. When the custody case was finally heard by the judge, it did not end well for him. While the paternity test verified that he was the father, the judge came down decisively on Miss Jones’ side, awarding her full custody. They were so distrustful of Mr. Smith’s allegations against Miss Jones that the custody agreement’s 19th Finding of Fact stated, “If Father engages in any public defamation against the Mother at any time in the future, then this court has made clear that the minor child may be removed from him and that this court, upon mother’s motion, may order no-contact between [his son] and Father on the basis said public defamation is harmful to the health, safety, and welfare of this child.”
Despite being a sole custody agreement in favor of the mother, the agreement had a three-phase system for Mr. Smith to reestablish trust with the court and a relationship with his son. If graduation, employment, and a track record of making his limited visitations could be established, as well as child support be regularly paid, then he could progressively have more visitation time and become a larger part of his son’s life. Unfortunately, as Miss Jones tells it, he stopped visiting altogether after six months. She says her family hasn’t seen him in five years. By refusing to keep to the terms of his visitation, Joshua Smith stays locked for some time into his agreement’s first stage of limited visitation, with the risk of losing further rights due to his absences.
Miss Jones sees this as a common pattern of behavior. “He is the type of guy that if something doesn’t benefit him in some way then[sic] he wants nothing to do with it.” According to her, his attempt to fight for sole custody was not due to “wanting my son to be safe” or his bitter protestation at her attempt to allow only one supervised hour of visitation a week, as his GoFundMe claims. There were darker motives, she says. “He was going to have his then girlfriend raise out son,” she asserts, going on to explain, “He fought for custody because he doesn’t want to pay for his child.” She left her feelings of him very clear. “He tried to pretend like he cared but his actions truly showed he could care less about his son.”
“I wish we could nail him to the wall.”
The he-said-she-said nature of the allegations from both sides makes every claim without an explicit court record subject to intense skepticism. For her part, Miss Jones’ social media presence occasionally decries an unnamed deadbeat dad. She has posted in groups asking for assistance on how to collect unpaid child support and, in a particularly emotional statement, sent out a warning against future contact. “I never thought this day would come. I thought I won that war. But here we are face to face ready to fight once again. All because of YOU!! Haven’t you had enough? It’s clear you don’t care.” She ended with a warning, “Just know this, YOU ARE NO LONGER JUST COMING AFTER ME… YOU ARE GOING AFTER A VILLAGE!”
For his part, Joshua Smith has been waging a social media campaign against negativity since 2016. His incredible page, Joshua Smith and the Motivation, is an outpost of somber reflection on past wrongdoings and boundless hope for a better tomorrow. The connection between the page’s message and his chairman campaign’s themes of optimism and change are strong.
A 2016 post reminds readers that “‘things’ don’t make you rich. Travel, love, friendships, family, etc. These are the things that make you rich. Let your legacy be about the awesome time you had in this life, and the bonds you’ve built. You’ll be a much richer spirit that way!” In contrast to Miss Jones’ characterization, it also has a post where Mr. Smith shares his joy at finally getting to see his second child for the first time in five years. “The first time I held her in my arms at the hospital, my heart grew bigger, my outlook on life, and love, and the world changed. Unfortunately I was young, and stupid, and I made decisions that ultimately ended with me not even being in the same state as her, and eventually losing all contact with her for more than 5 years. I never gave up though.”
While these contrasting Joshua Smiths may be explained by the he-said-she-said nature of the allegations, there is another possible explanation. On his Joshua Smith and the Motivation page in 2016, Mr. Smith opened up about his struggles with bipolar disorder in a critique on calling depression an illegitimate illness.
“Growing up I had rage issues, lots of down days, and as I got older I started having some pretty bad manic episodes. I know there is something there, so I have learned how to identify manic episodes, I’ve learned how to identify the down days, and I have learned how to try my hardest to keep them at bay when they pop up. Doesn’t mean that I’m not still affected by it, or I don’t have anymore episodes, or I’m just magically cured of it. It’s still there, all the time. I choose to combat it with the tools I have learned, but telling someone that it’s basically not real, is telling them they don’t have to identify it, and that is the harmful part.”
The Joshua Smith of 2018 is a man of license suspensions for unpaid child support and a man of optimism for the future by getting to work. He is a man of bitter custody wars and a man of exultations for a richening of the human spirit. Time will tell which one the party gets and whether the tools he has learned are effective.