Barber: Phillies violated party membership oath

Likely delegates to the Libertarian Party’s 2010 national convention are, around this time, receiving a “snail mail” letter from Christopher Barber, a Georgia LP activist and member of the national LP’s platform committee.* Excerpt:

When you and I joined the Libertarian Party we proudly signed this statement:

“I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.”

Regretfully there are a few who sign this oath and do not honor it. One of those few is a man running for chair of our party: George Phillies.

Last year, George Phillies secretly filed a criminal complaint against the Libertarian National Committee, using as his weapon laws that Libertarians adamantly oppose — Federal Election Campaign Laws. That’s right! — McCain-Feingold.

As one might expect, the letter goes on to argue that Mr. Phillies does not deserve delegate support as a candidate for chair of the Libertarian National Committee. For a scanned PDF of the entire letter, click here.

Enclosed with the letter are copies of Mr. Phillies’s complaint letter to the FEC, and the FEC’s notification to LNC treasurer Aaron Starr that the complaint has been dismissed. All documentation related to the complaint and investigation are available via the Federal Election Commission’s Enforcement Query System. That system doesn’t seem to generate permalinks — to reach the documentation, check the “Matters Under Review” box and enter “6209” in the “case number” field.

* Two copies of the mailing arrived at my St. Louis address today, May 20th, 2010. One was addressed to me, the other to my spouse, Missouri Libertarian Tamara Millay. While I can’t know the identity or origin of Barber’s mailing list, both Tamara and myself have served as LP national convention delegates in the past (my last national convention was 2008, hers was 2004). My reasonable speculation is that the mailing list in question was generated from past delegate lists, which are freely available to LP members from LPHQ.

61 thoughts on “Barber: Phillies violated party membership oath

  1. paulie


    The Commission made public two closed cases this week. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

    MUR 6209 – Libertarian National Committee and Aaron Starr, in his capacity as treasurer; Barr 2008 Presidential Committee and David Chastain, in his capacity as treasurer; and The Bob Barr Leadership Fund and Paul Kilgore, in his capacity as treasurer. The Commission dismissed the case.

  2. paulie
    Grant of Extension of Time to Bob Barr Leadership Foundation, Barr 2008 Presidential Committee, Paul Kilgore, and David Chastain
    Response from Bob Barr Leadership Foundation, Barr 2008 Presidential Committee, Paul Kilgore, and David Chastain
    General Counsel’s Report
    Notification to George Phillies
    Notification to Barr 2008 Presidential Committee and David Chastain, Treasurer and The Bob Barr Leadership Fund and Paul Kilgore, Treasurer
    Notification to Libertarian National Committee and Aaron Starr, Treasurer
    Libertarian National Committee and Aaron Star, as Treasurer; Barr 2008 Presidential Committee and David Chastain, as Treasurer; The Bob Barr Leadership Fund and Paul Kilgore, as Treasurer (Case Closure EPS)

  3. Shane

    I just received this as well. Looks like it was sent to the ’10 delegate list which any party member can request. My seeds from ’06 and ’08 didn’t get a mailing.

    So, Tom, the candidate you’re endorsing filed a criminal complaint that could have put someone behind bars (unlikely but possible) for a number in a spreadsheet. Thankfully, the FEC dismissed the complaint.

    In the past the LNC was fined by the FEC for filing three days late — when a hurricane hit and the FEC was closed and LPHQ staff was locked out of the account.

    That put the LNC in a “flagged” status for some time so any FEC issues would get extra scrutiny.

    Because of this, the LNC had to take it seriously, spend money on attorney time, etc.

    So, my question to you Tom is do you condone what Phillies did here?

    While no one had their doors kicked in and their dog shot, time and money had to be spent explaining to the federal government why a “criminal complaint” filed by a guy with a grudge was without merit.

    I’m interested in your thoughts.

  4. George Phillies

    First of all, preventing theft is not a violation of the party membership statement.

    There is a simple reason why a sensible person could reasonably have believed that the $10,000 was indeed transferred from the LNC to the Barr campaign, disclosed by the Barr campaign, and that the disclosure was correct and not a typographic error. The reason is:

    There is an extant statement from Barr 2008 Treasurer David Chastain to an LNC member, specifying how the money was transferred. “wire transfer”, he wrote.

    I am confident that Mr. Barber was unaware of the Barr 2008 statement specifying how the money was transferred, a statement that has never since been corrected to its original recipient, who was not me.

    Mind you, I am inclined to believe that Mr. Chastain did not make a knowing falsehood.

    However, any knowing reader is aware of cases in which the men responsible had no knowledge of misdeeds of their underlings, and were nonetheless responsible. Given the extremely close relationships between the Barr and LNC staffs, saying that Chastain and the LNC Treasurer were innocent does not necessarily close matters.

    Also, ‘prosecutorial discretion’ is an opposite of ‘we think you are innocent’.

    I will have a longer statement later.

  5. MORE .......... Lake

    Any one interested in this non LP’s thots ?????

    [a] I am no Phillies fan, from years ago!

    [b] You may or may not have a legitimate gripe

    [c] Spin Doctor / Liar George Phillies (and Mid Western lap dog Thomas Knapp) : “the LP is the Only 21st Century American Peace Party” (or words to that affect)

    [d] And yet, breach of “I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.” ?????????? Look no farther than GOP neo con W. A. R.

    [e] none are so blind as those whom do not wish to see. (“Ya can’t find some thing if you are not looking ……….”)

  6. Jose C

    When tricky Dick Nixon style dirty political attacks come your way you know your opponents are running scared.

  7. David F. Nolan

    I find it odd that someone would spend time and money (not much) to put this out. George Phillies’ chances of being elected LNC Chair are so small that it hardly seems worth the effort. So why would anyone do this? Given that the letter comes from Georgia, I’d be inclined to guess that it was prompted by a personal grudge on the part of someone in the Barr campaign … but that’s just a guess.

    The whole thing is kind of mystifying.

  8. Shane

    George, this was never a question of “theft” it was a matter of reporting and FEC compliance. Any party is free to transfer funds back and forth in coordinated expenditures with their presidential candidate (up to the multi-million dollar limit).

    This is another example of you creating some type of wrong-doing but taking it to the extreme by filing a “criminal complaint” with the feds.

    Are you going to turn in a sick Libertarian for smoking pot in his hotel room at the convention? Will you call in the police to arrest someone if you think he’s not making child support payments? Will we start to see the IRS going after some of our activists because of anonymous complaints? Will you write a book to expose the corruption that only you seem to see? Oh, wait, didn’t you already do that?

    Maybe we should all take notice now that Sheriff George is on the lookout for law-breakers based upon his “sensibilities.”

    David, I agree with you. Although it wasn’t the Barr campaign that released it or anyone related to it. Take your pick from there.

  9. NewFederalist

    “The whole thing is kind of mystifying.”

    Or perhaps stupefying.

  10. Thomas L. Knapp Post author


    You write:

    “I just received this as well. Looks like it was sent to the ‘10 delegate list which any party member can request. My seeds from ‘06 and ‘08 didn’t get a mailing.”

    So far as I know, I wouldn’t have been on a 2010 delegate list available as of the date the letter was mailed. Nor is Tamara on any 2010 delegate list at all.

    At the moment, I’m assuming that Barber did some kind of “merge” operation of past delegate lists to pick delegates who had attended multiple national conventions.

    There are darker plausible explanations, which I won’t go into at the moment, but I’m personally looking into.

    “So, Tom, the candidate you’re endorsing filed a criminal complaint that could have put someone behind bars (unlikely but possible) for a number in a spreadsheet.”

    The candidate I’m endorsing didn’t start with a criminal complaint.

    He started by asking questions.

    He filed the criminal complaint after presumably becoming convinced that he was not getting, and would not get, complete and truthful answers.

    The gravamen of his argument on this matter is not that there may have been a technical violation of BCRA, but that the membership of the LP may have been defrauded, in the amount of $10,000, by its national committee or HQ staff.

    I do not have to believe that such a fraud did indeed occur in order to believe that the allegation rose to a level of both believability and seriousness as to require a full investigation and disclosure by the LNC.

    Nor do I have to believe that such a fraud did indeed occur in order to believe that the LNC’s response may not have satisfied those requirements.

    If Phillies was acting in good faith — e.g. if he believed that what he was seeing was, in fact, likely an act of fraud by the LNC — what was he supposed to do?

    Most Libertarians don’t like the FEC much. I doubt that Phillies likes the FEC much, either.

    But the FEC is the police organization to whom one complains about matters involving federal elections.

    If Phillies believed that the LNC or one of its members, or a staffer at LPHQ, had burglarized his house, would he be “violating the pledge” if he called the Worcester PD?

    If Phillies believed that the LNC or one of its members, or a staffer at LPHQ, had sold him shares in a Ponzi scheme, would he be “violating the pledge” if he called the SEC?

    Phillies believed that board members or employees of an organization of which he was a member had possibly misappropriated $10,000.

    Phillies did not believe that his allegations were fully investigated and the truth fully disclosed.

    Phillies didn’t go to the FEC first, he went to the FEC last.

    “So, my question to you Tom is do you condone what Phillies did here?”

    I neither condone nor condemn it.

    I don’t condone it because I’m not sure if Phillies’s belief as to what happened is correct or incorrect.

    I don’t condemn it because I believe that Phillies believed he had exhausted his reasonable options for redress short of using the FEC.

    Tom Knapp

  11. Doug craig

    Guys I know Chris Barber He is a great guy No not just great he is kick ass guy. He is man that has busted his balls for the state party (GA) over aand over. I dont believe he originated the letter but he I believe he thought George was wrong and what he did was wrong and could have puty some good people in harms way (like David Chastain).It has made me pull my support from George. At this point I am looking at Hinkle or John Jay . If George thought this was important than he shouldhave ran for chair or put the other people running with him in harms way without this knowledge I believe it was poor judgement and now I have to ask myself can the man make the proper judgement when that time comes

  12. Shane

    Tom, you’re falling into Phillies’ spin that even if the transfer had take place, it was somehow wrong. As I said above, there can be transfers between parties and their candidate up to $14 mil +.

    Phillies’ “criminal complaint” had to do with reporting.

  13. George Phillies

    Apparently you are missing the obvious, Shane. If money is removed from LNC accounts, in violation of the LNC’s budget and bylaws, it is not a cash transfer. It is theft. And if someone is later or earlier rewarded for their part in the transfer, it is fraud by wire.

    We purist libertarians think theft and fraud are bad things. YMMV.

    The LNC had authorized no money be given to to the Barr 2008. If money was transferred, which the LNC Treasurer eventually vigorously denied, then someone stole it from the LNC bank account, stole it just as certainly as if he had walked into our bank waving a gun.

    No one in their right mind thinks theft has something to do with a room party. Unless that was someone else’s stash you heisted.

    As far as fraud is concerned, you may have more knowledge of things like that than I do, given Jim Bovard’s suit already filed against the Barr campaign.

  14. George Phillies



    I am entirely happy to believe Chris Barber was used by people, not you or David Chastain. If he had contacted me, the way we contacted David and learned how the money was transferred — by wire — matters might have turned out differently.

    And if David had done the follow
    through he promised to send the LNC member, he would hopefully have found the error long before the complaint was filed, and matters would have come to an end.


  15. Shane

    So George, you want folks to believe that someone stole $10k from the LNC’s accounts when the treasurer wasn’t looking, then reported their theft on an FEC report? Uh, okay then.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp Post author


    To the extent that I have an opinion over whether or not the alleged transfer was “wrong” per se, that opinion is that it would not necessarily be, FEC limits be damned.

    In my opinion the LNC, under its obligation to “support the presidential campaign,” has the authority and the right to do so in any honest way.

    What Phillies has asserted is not that the LNC was wrong to transfer money to the Barr campaign (if it did so), but that that transfer may have occurred without LNC authorization, or that if the LNC did authorize it it may have done so secretly and failed in its duty not to lie to its members and donors on the matter.

    BCRA and other stupid “campaign finance” laws aside, the fact remains that the FEC is the current government police agency for financial crimes if those crimes relate to federal election campaigns.

    Having, to his mind, not succeeded in finding the truth of whether or not a $10,000 theft/fraud had occurred, was Phillies supposed to let it go? Should he have called the ASPCA or the Red Cross or CNN instead of the FEC?

    Would you call one of those other places if you thought I was walking out the front door with your TV while insisting that no, I wasn’t you were just seeing things, or would you call the police?

    The only question I have is whether or not Mr. Phillies is correct in his suspicions. He has been a model of integrity in his handling of those suspicions. He went to the FEC last, not first, having exhausted his other options. And even then, he did not use his resort to the FEC as a publicity device, when he could have done so.

  17. Shane

    The ASPCA fo’ sho. Code Pink as a alternative.

    Come on Tom, “He has been a model of integrity in his handling of those suspicions.”

    For real?

    “And even then, he did not use his resort to the FEC as a publicity device, when he could have done so.”

    Double for real?

    I know you go close to the line in making your political arguments, but I’ve never seen you knowingly lie — and I respect that.

    But to say George has been a model of integrity?


  18. Thomas L. Knapp Post author


    Phillies started his investigation quietly and privately; Rachel Hawkridge started seeking information on the discrepancy after his inquiry.

    My understanding — which could be incorrect — is that that inquiry was made public at an LNC meeting not by Phillies, but by Aaron Starr.

    When Phillies filed his criminal complaint with the FEC, he did not simultaneously send out a news release about it.

    He did not coax IPR to cover it as “newsworthy.”

    He did not jump up and down and shout “the FEC is investigating the LNC.”

    I didn’t know about the criminal complaint until I got the letter from Mr. Barber. Since that letter includes what appears to be a copy of a letter sent to Mr. Starr care of LPHQ by the FEC, it’s reasonable to assume that Mr. Starr provided that letter to Mr. Barber, and that Mr. Barber is acting as Mr. Starr’s proxy in this matter.

    To be fair, I don’t blame Mr. Starr for using the criminal complaint as fodder for some political grandstanding. Well-played! I wouldn’t have hesitated to do the same thing myself if I had the goods and thought I could use them productively in that way.

    But I don’t blame Mr. Phillies for filing the complaint in the first place, either. I may be in the minority in so reacting, but that’s my reaction.

  19. paulie

    Brad Ploeger
    to contact.ipr

    show details 5:19 PM (2 minutes ago)


    Atlanta, Georgia, May 20, 2010 — As many of you may have heard, it has recently come to light that the candidate for National Chair I supported, George Phillies, filed a secret criminal complaint with the Federal Election Commission concerning an alleged irregular transaction between the Libertarian National Committee and the Barr 2008 Presidential Committee. The complaint has subsequently been dismissed by the Federal Election Commission. To make matters worse, Phillies pursued these charges with the government after the Party’s independent auditors stated that there were no errors in our financial disclosures.

    I was unaware of this Federal complaint until Christopher Barber’s letter. While I understand that Phillies was working within the law and his rights to lodge a complaint; I believe that his methods demonstrated a severe lapse in judgment. The Chairman of our Party should be working to increase the size of the Party and not run their opponents out of town. It is wrong to use the force of law to attack political opponents–even those with whom you disagree. We must work together to handle matters internally and not risk destroying the Party to settle our disagreements. I signed on to the New Path slate because I felt the leadership of the New Path would be able to move our party past the internecine warfare that has crippled the National Committee and consumed critical resources that were already in short supply.

    In light of these revelations, I am no longer able to support George Phillies for National Chair. At this time I do not see a suitable candidate for Chair and will instead support None of the Above for Chairman of our Party. While I believe the remainder of the New Path candidates were unaware of this matter; I will repudiate any candidate on the slate that knew about this prior to Barber’s letter. We are the Party of Principal and it is time that the leaders of our Party demonstrate that they will provide us with more than hollow promises.

    Politics is frequently a choice between the unpalatable and the disastrous. We will always face disagreements between factions in our Party; however, I cannot support anyone who advocates methods meant to destroy their opposition within the Party and risk our long-term viability. We must remember that our stated goal is to ensure that Libertarians are elected to public office. I cannot and will not support Party leadership that does not make electing Libertarians their primary focus.

    # # #

    Brad Ploeger is a resident of Atlanta, Georgia and is running as a Region Representative for the Libertarian National Committee. He is a founding member and current Vice Chair of Communications of the Libertarian Party of Atlanta, a 2010 Representative to the Libertarian Party of Georgia Executive Committee and the 2010 Libertarian Nominee for Georgia State House District 59.

  20. Shane

    Tom, probably a big reason Phillies didn’t publicize it as he does with so many other things, is because I’m sure he had a suspicion that it may not play well with Libertarians. Pretty obvious to me — but an assumption.

    Don’t play naive on that matter.

    Look, George knows that we’re not on the best of terms. I have issues with his legacy of attacks on the party — which I started to see when he was attacking LPHQ for FEC reports that didn’t match our internal financial statements.

    He originally had a legitimate concern and he could have called us up and asked, “hey, why don’t your reports match?”

    I would have responded by saying, “Uh, because one uses cash accounting and the other accrual as required.”

    Instead, I had to call him, which I was happy to do, but he refused to even hear the explanation.

    Years later, he’s filing criminal complaints after refusing to accept the LNC’s explanation. That’s a definitive pattern to me personally.

    The sad thing about all of this is that (and I’ll say this directly to you), George, you have the choice to be the LP’s resident gadfly, or its top activist.

    For the past many years, you’ve chosen to be the gadfly and haven’t been too honest about it.

    With your New Path, which is a step in the right direction if only because it’s positive, you can change all of that. I hope you do.

    You’re a smart guy and the LP would be much better served with you pursuing liberty rather than attacking those with common goals.

  21. InTheKnow

    @ #28

    Says a man with a long and storied history of attacking those with common goals. What a hypocrite!

  22. Nicholas Sarwark

    The scanned response from Starr indicates that there was a letter from the auditor noting that there was an error dated July 12, 2009 (designated Exhibit C). However, that letter was not part of the scanned response to the FEC. Has anyone seen that letter? Specifically, were Mr. Phillies and/or Ms. Hawkridge provided a copy of that letter when they were making the pre-complaint inquiries? Did Mr. Phillies have notice that there was not an actual unauthorized transfer prior to sending his letter to the FEC’s enforcement division?

  23. Gene Berkman

    If George Phillies had won the Libertarian nomination for President (now there is a counter-factual) who here thinks he would not have demanded that the LNC transfer money to his campaign?

  24. Gene Berkman

    @ #34 – classical liberal political theory says that each person has the right to defend himself, and that government gets its power from individuals delegating that right.

    If an individual is attacked physically, or threatened with physical force, or is the victim of fraud, then complaining to government is indeed not the initiation of force.

    If a person snitches to the government about a victimless activity of someone,then by the theory of delegation, that person is responsible for the force that government uses or threatens.

    Complaining to the FEC is in fact an initiation of force, unless Dr Phillies can prove that the LNC engaged in fraud. Since he has not tried to prove that to the membership of The Libertarian Party, it indicates his temperament is not one many libertarians would feel comfortable with.

  25. Nicholas Sarwark

    There was no force. There was a letter telling the FEC that something looked shady in the LNC and Barr ’08 campaign reports. Reporting an alleged law violation is not an initiation of force even under the most tortured reasoning.

    Poor judgment? Maybe.

    Initiation of force? No.

  26. Brian Holtz

    It’s an initiation of force to the extent that 1) the law is against a victimless crime or 2) the complainant knows or should have known that no victimful crime actually took place.

    That said, I don’t interpret the Pledge as an oath to abstain from advocating or committing absolutely anything that, say, Rothbard would call “force initiation”. I instead agree with David Nolan: it’s a Pledge against revolutionary violence. Indeed, even Ernest Hancock admitted that the Pledge was useful in this way when his friend (and LP candidate) Dean Pleasant was jailed after stockpiling ammonium nitrate and creating a videotape surveilling federal buildings and explaining how to take them down with explosives.

  27. paulie

    Response is at

    AuGeo forwards from George Phillies: Of course, last minute attack letters are the stuff of politics. You learn to live with them. And now I have received mine. (Actually, I did not receive mine. I have not received a copy.) Remember, there will always be reasons for not surfacing the attack until the last minute, and most of those reasons are subject to question. Recall the four-page attack on Mary Ruwart, last convention, that was mailed so late that many of us got it only when we came home.

    More silliness below fold
    AuGeo :: Here Comes the Attack Letter!
    Recently, a peculiar list of Libertarians received a letter allegedly from Chris Barber of Decatur, Georgia. Supposedly the letter went out to 1700 people.

    To give credit where credit is due, Barber or whoever did spell my name right.

    Whoever gave him his other facts was so deficient in truthiness that it’s hard to know where to start. Mind you, I do not blame Barber, if that’s who it was, for being taken in. If he had contacted me, I might have set him straight.

    Where do we start? Why don’t we start here: In 2008, the Barr campaign claimed to have received $10,000 from the LNC. As of this writing, it is still claiming that in its campaign filings. The LNC did not reveal having given Barr $10,000 in its transfers, and our Party Treasurer denies that Barr 2008 got the money. Was the money handed over or not? The LNC had not approved the transfer.

    A reasonable person could have asked the Barr 2008 Treasurer if the $10,000 statement was right. After all, it could have been a computer glitch. An LNC member did. David Chastain specified to her how the money was sent. “wire transfer”, he said. That’s pretty definitive. Chastain added “Please contact Robert Kraus at LNC for the documentation.” That’s even more definitive. The LNC member was told how the money was sent, and who in the Watergate had the details. The full correspondence is below. I had also contacted Chastain with the same question.

    As those of you who have done FEC filings know, you can’t make your FEC books and your bank statements match, once you have fixed the details like cash on hand, unless they agree. If that $10,000 had not been received, at some point the Barr 2008 bank account ought to have come up short. [There are some legitimate dodges involving gifts in kind, but gifts in kind create tagged matching disbursements not appearing in the filings.] Double-path book-keeping provide a powerful error-checking scheme that your filings are accurate. A reasonable person should view this as a strong check on the close accuracy of FEC reports.

    So I did speak to LNC friends, and I had contacted the Barr 2008 campaign directly. There were contradictions in their claims. In particular, the LNC had not approved any money transfer. The direct options for investigation were exhausted. However, a reasonable inference was that the money had transferred — the Barr Treasurer had specified how.

    That was our party’s money out the door, if it had been transferred, based on available evidence, and I had exhausted my internal investigations. Of course, you should never underestimate the power of error. As a Libertarian, I despise theft and fraud. I could have ignored it. It was only $10,000. That’s only 400 member-years of dues, or ten life memberships done forever.

    However, I don’t see any reason to leave a land mine for the next LNC, especially when I might be on it.

    So I filed a complaint. I stayed as you can read with the direct facts that could be proven from the FEC filings, omitting hearsay or speculation. And then I did not say a word. If you talk to people, the word gets out, and the innocent deserve to have the issues resolved in private.

    So where do the errors start? Let’s start here.

    Mr. Barber makes a series of statements about Rachel Hawkridge and information given to her. His description of the information, which he could not have known directly, is inaccurate.

    What does Barber claim?

    #1) Barber claims Hawkridge demanded and received LNC Bank statements. Hawkridge assures that she asked for the statements, and Redpath refused to supply them. The LNC did receive six pages of computer printout covering a few days of transactions, but not the statements. I have since had direct physical confirmation of this.

    #2) Barber claims Hawkridge was presented a letter for public dissemination. Hawkridge assures me that she was presented with a letter to be kept confidential.

    #3) Barber claims the letter from the auditors said they found no errors in the party’s FEC filings. Really? Were there errors? You can find the truth at… The LNC had to refile, because it had incorrectly claimed to have received $10,000 coming from the Barr Presidential Committee which it had not received from them. That was a computer-person interface error, very easy to understand if you have used the software.

    Barber complains that I made my complaint after his evidence was presented. He skips over the detail that the evidence he claims was presented was sent in confidence to the LNC, so I would largely not have seen it. In fact, if you read my complaint, you see I specify that there was an executive session, and I did not see what happened there.

    So how did you know about what happened in executive session, Chris? Your friend on the LNC will have the rock-solid defense that he did not break Executive Session confidence, because he was lying to you about what happened there. I’m sorry you were taken in. You deserve better.

    Barber complains about the first sentence of my letter. Folks, that sentence is specified in the FEC regulations. If there were a printed form, it would be printed on it. You don’t get a choice on what that sentence says.

    Barber complains that if the FEC had determined that the money had been lifted improperly from our treasury, the guilty party might have gone to jail. I’m sorry, but up here ‘theft’ and ‘fraud’ are not libertarian virtues.

    Finally, he delivers a magnificent rant. It is absolutely worth reading for the style, if not the content. The essence of the rant is that when there is significant evidence that our party has been relieved of large sums of money we should close our eyes to it. Preventing theft and fraud is ‘unlibertarian’. Okay, I won’t argue, because there is no position on which we libertarians do not disagree with each other, except the spelling of our party’s name.

    I say that it is appropriate to pursue the matter first privately, which I and others did, but when the evidence is sufficient solid, and the stone wall will not move, well, that’s why we have law enforcement authorities. Oh, yes, I did bite my tongue, telling no one about this; that’s the courtesy you owe to innocent people.

    Those of you familiar with our party’s history will realize that there is ample precedent for this sort of hanky-panky having occurred. The Barr campaign claims to the FEC that it did not occur, that they made a data entry error leading to an incorrect contribution report.

    George Phillies

    The full Chastain Correspondence, as supplied me by Rachel Hawkridge:

    LNC member Rachel Hawkridge contacted the Barr 2008 Treasurer, David Chastain. She asked

    From: Rachel H. for LPWA Communications
    Date: Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 1:11 PM
    Subject: Would you please?

    Dear Mr. Chastain –

    I would like to get a copy of the check from the Libertarian National Committee that you (Barr08) reported to have received in Aug ’08 FEC filings. I believe that the exact date was 23 July 2008.

    We’re having a dispute, and it’s an internal issue which has nothing to do with you. I would appreciate your help very much.

    Thanks and have a gentle day . . . :o)

    Act In Liberty,

    Rachel Hawkridge
    Chair, Libertarian Party of Washington
    Libertarian National Committee
    Region 7 Representative

    He answered first

    From: David F. Chastain
    Date: Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 6:50 PM
    Subject: Re: Would you please?
    To: “Rachel H. for LPWA Communications”

    Hi Rachel,

    I am asking the folks who handle our books to look into it. Please bear with me.

    David Chastain

    and then

    From: David F. Chastain
    Date: Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 3:44 AM
    Subject: Re: Would you please?
    To: “Rachel H. for LPWA Communications”
    I am told your reference goes back to a wire transfer. Please contact Robert Kraus at LNC for the documentation.

    That seemingly settled whether the Barr campaign thought on July 9 that they had received a transfer. Their Treasurer had the books checked, and he stated how the money was received. They did not at any later date make a correction.

  28. paulie

    email from Rachel Hawkridge


    In the Spring of 2009, I became aware that there were inconsistencies between the the FEC filings of the Barr campaign and the LNC.

    The Barr campaign had reported a $10,000 contribution from the LNC, and the LNC had not reported it.

    I asked my colleagues on the LNC about this, why the LNC had made this contribution, and why we had not reported it.

    The answer I got back was that there had been no contribution. That was not an explanation, in my opinion, it didn’t answer the discrepancy in the FEC filings, and that report was out there – a ticking time bomb, ready to explode at any time.

    Our Treasurer denied that there had been any such payment, and then said . . .

    Aaron Starr to LNC show details 7/9/09


    I was asked by a fellow board member as to whether it would be appropriate for a member of the LNC to indicate publicly that no disbursement was made to the Barr campaign by the LNC.

    I would not go out of my way to initiate such a conversation, but if someone should ask you about this I believe there would be no legal issue with making the statement that our FEC filings accurately report that no disbursement was made to the Barr campaign by the LNC.

    Aaron Starr


    Libertarian National Committee, Inc.

    Mr. Wrights, Dr. Ruwart, and Mr. Karlan all stated that they thought it need to be cleared up and asked that our attorney and our FEC consultant be present at our St. Louis meeting.

    At one point, the Treasurer claimed “Our accounting records do show the Bob Barr Leadership Fund (PAC) contributing $10,000 to the LNC during August. Paula Edwards recorded the amount as coming from the Barr 2008 Presidential Committee, perhaps because they are closely related entities.”

    Mr. Chastain stated to me that there had been a wire transfer from the LNC to Barr.

    I then asked that Mr. Kraus bring banking records for the time that the payment had been reported to the meeting, so that we could see for sure. In that eMail, I also stated . . . “I have not told anyone outside the Committee about this, but I believe that Dr. Phillies has requested the same information, so it won’t be a secret for long. If we see the banking records, then maybe all our doubts will be allayed, and almost all of the membership has at least one of us that they trust.”

    The Chair declined.

    At the meeting, further questions were asked, answered, and my colleagues seemed to be satisfied with the answers that we got.

    I wasn’t satisfied, but had no idea where to go with it at that point – I didn’t know what to ask even, much less what to do.

    On Sunday morning, most of my colleagues were cold, and avoiding me. When asked, Dr. Ruwart and Mr. Wrights had no idea why. All through the day, the atypical behavior continued. At the end of the meeting, after public comment and dismissing Ms. Julie Stone (who was videocasting the meeting) we went into Executive Session to, among other things, deal with “a personnel matter”.

    I’m sure that some of you, and most of the LNC, will object to my telling you that I was that “personnel matter”. Most of what we spoke about in ExSess was included in Mr. Barber’s letter, and even though what has already been reported was untrue, someone broke confidentiallity. I maintain that I am not personnel, and it was therefore not a valid ExSess. I fully expect that if the majority of the current LNC is re-elected, there will be some “disciplinary” action brought against me for this perceived transgression. If so, I hope that enough of my colleagues will object and leave the meeting, so that there will not be a quorum.

    In that session, the Treasurer handed me a copy of this eMail to Mr. Chastain (the Barr treasurer) . . .

    David –

    Can you get a copy of your receipt of the wire transfer, preferably today? Friday

    It comes down to a matter of veracity – and you can guess who our
    treasurer says is not honest. Allegations have been made . . .

    I’d prefer that you not disclose the source of this information.

    And you might want to look into the concept of “libel per se”.

    Thanks very much. :o)

    He walked around so that he was standing behind me (I will refrain from speculating on his motives for this maneuver), and asked if I had sent it. Of course, I replied that I had. He then demanded that I read it aloud.

    Later, I realized that he had apparently told most of the LNC (in private) that I had told Mr. Chastain to pursue criminal libel proceedings against him. I did not. “Libel per se” (link =

    ) is a civil action, and on the heels of the Wrights debacle (can you link to that story here?), I was tired of our people being libeled and attacked by the Committee.

    The ensuing discussion focused mostly on my accusation of libel, and “not trusting” the Treasurer. Of the possibility of bring the FEC down on the party.

    It was decided that I would write a letter to Messrs. Shane Cory and David Chastain, disowning my allegation that the Treasurer had implied that the Barr campaign was less than honest in their filings. Mr. Latham agreed to help with this.

    I did so, sending this, which passed Mr. Latham’s inspection.

    Rachel H. for LPWA Communications to Shane, David show details 7/30/09

    Messrs. Chastain and Cory –

    I am writing to clarify my Friday, July 16 eMail to Mr. Chastain.

    One of our members has alleged wrongdoing by the LNC with respect to the Barr campaign. The allegation is based on the Barr campaign’s report to the FEC — available on the FEC’s web site — that on July 23, 2008 the LNC made a $10,000 donation to the Barr campaign. The LNC’s report to the FEC does not indicate a $10,000 donation to the Barr campaign.

    The LP’s Treasurer has stated that the LNC did not make a $10,000 donation to the Barr campaign. I misinterpreted the LP Treasurer’s statement as an allegation of dishonesty by the Barr campaign. Because there are any number of innocent explanations for the discrepancy between the two reporting entities, I no longer stand by that impression, which I communicated in my July 16 eMail to Mr. Chastain.

    However, if you or someone affiliated with the Barr campaign can help clarify this discrepancy, I would appreciate being copied on your correspondence sent to the LNC’s Executive Director, Wes Benedict (

    Act In Liberty,

    Rachel Hawkridge

    That was the last I heard of the matter until Dr. Phillies told me that the matter had been resolved by amending the filings.

    The whole of the LNC was never informed that there had been an FEC complaint filed against the party, nor of the resolution. This is an part of an ongoing pattern of secrecy, deception and a lack of transparency on the part of the Treasurer. I asked my colleagues for information, and explanation about what had gone on, and none was forthcoming. The Treasurer’s response seemed to be “Trust me.” And then he never told the whole of the Committee about the complaint.

    It is also a longterm, ongoing pattern of openness, financial watchfulness and pushing the LNC to do the right thing on the part of Dr. Phillies. It’s why I trust that, as Chair, he would conduct the business of the party in a straightforward, transparent fashion.

    He did the right thing, in attempting to get the LNC to resolve the manner in private. He could not allow the time bomb of conflicting FEC reports to lie out there to bushwack future LNCs.

  29. Andy

    “I instead agree with David Nolan: it’s a Pledge against revolutionary violence.”

    The pledge is in opposition to the INITIATION of force. If somebody is INITIATING force against you then you’ve got the right to fight back.

    Governments initiative force. Therefore it is within Libertarian principles to revolt against it, with violence if necessary.

  30. Carolyn Marbry

    Paulie @41, I let them know. Thanks for taking care of that. Just looking out for Mr. Chastain’s privacy a little here since I know I don’t like my number getting published.

  31. Robert Capozzi

    It’s early and I don’t have the patience to wade through all of this, but let me get this straight:

    Phillies suspected a financial impropriety between the LNC Treasury and the Barr campaign, and he we to the FEC? He didn’t contact the LNC and its members? Isn’t he friendly with some of the LNC? Wouldn’t it have been far more appropriate for LNCers to investigate this first? Maybe, maybe, if he didn’t get satisfaction from the LNC should he have gone to the FEC as a last resort….

    Or am I missing something?….

  32. Robert Capozzi

    OK, I’ll read this more closely. I simply don’t recall the LNC taking the matter up; Phillies going to the membership; then, perhaps as a last resort, going to the FEC. But I guess I’ll study this legal mumbo jumbo.

  33. Robert Capozzi

    tk: Having, to his mind, not succeeded in finding the truth of whether or not a $10,000 theft/fraud had occurred, was Phillies supposed to let it go? Should he have called the ASPCA or the Red Cross or CNN instead of the FEC?

    me: If Phillies didn’t get satisfaction from his allies on the LNC, then it strikes me that he should have gone to the membership, NOT the FEC.

    My strong impression is that Phillies reads FEC reports looking for what he THINKS are discrepancies, finds one, then goes ballistic. I recall him making a BIG DEAL over one line item in the Barr P&L without any understanding of that line item or how much “waste” there may or may not have been in that line. He displayed not only poor judgment in that instance, but at least he expressed his concerns to the wider LP, NOT the FEC.

    In THIS case, Phillies went to the government without first bringing what he THOUGHT was a “theft” to the membership’s attention.

    This, IMO, is really beyond the pale. I have a lot of admiration for Phillies on some levels, but this is not the behavior of an adult, and certainly not the behavior I’d want to see in our party’s Chair. This is masochistic behavior. Masking it by claiming, in effect, “I thought I’d discovered a theft” lacks credibility…I’m sorry. This claim is based on a MISUNDERSTANDING of a federal filing. That’s certainly understandable.

    Going to the FEC? Not understandable, not at all.

  34. Thomas L. Knapp Post author


    If Phillies had gone to the membership instead of to the FEC, you’d have accused him of unnecessarily creating a public scandal.

    If Phillies had just let it go and a misappropriation had subsequently been detected by someone else, you’d have bitched “where’s Phillies, he’s the guy who always used to see this stuff first?”

    OK, OK, we get it already. If Phillies walks on water, you’ll bellyache that he’s depriving a ferry operator somewhere of a fucking fee.

    Phillies went to the FEC last, not first.

    He did so only after his questions were met with abuse of LNC executive session for the purpose of intimidating Hawkridge into backing off of those questions instead of with an open, transparent explanation.

    Those are the facts. No amount of spin will change them.

  35. Robert Capozzi

    tk, I like to think of myself as fair-minded, and ideologically Phillies is my ally, so if he’d went public with a QUESTION saying something to the effect of:

    It’s come to my attention that $10K was transferred from LNC to Barr. I brought this to RH’s attn, and apparently the issue cannot be discussed by the LNC because they went into ES. That’s unacceptable to me, so I’m appealling to other Ls to gauge interest in demanding a public accounting of these funds….

    Or something.

    Going to the FEC, especially when he did, was at best jumping the gun, at worst damaging the LP. I don’t see how you feel otherwise, TK…help us understand how.

  36. Nicholas Sarwark

    Going to the FEC, especially when he did, was at best jumping the gun, at worst damaging the LP. I don’t see how you feel otherwise, TK…help us understand how.

    Nobody was damaged. The FEC wrote a letter to the LNC and Barr ’08. The LNC (through Aaron Starr) explained that they had made an error and corrected it. Based on that representation, the FEC closed its case.

    That’s not an initiation of force, it’s an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Everything worked out the way it should (though I still haven’t heard if anyone saw the “Exhibit C” letter that Starr claims the auditors wrote prior to the FEC complaint).

    I think it’s common knowledge how I feel about prosecutors, but the ones involved here did what they were supposed to do.

  37. Robert Capozzi

    ns, hmm, you’re missing my point. I didn’t say it DID damage the LP. My critique is not about the FEC, it’s about going TO the FEC. This represents seriously poor judgment from a person who wants to LEAD the organization he filed a criminal complaint against, a complaint based on partial information.

    Phillies hardly exhausted all his options if he REALLY believed that significant financial malfeasance had occurred. (Frankly, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not sure $10K is all that significant, but reasonable people can disagree about what the bar of significance might be.)

    Say Phillies “prevailed.” Then the LP would likely be subject to closer scrutiny going forward. How could that possibly advance the cause of liberty? Is he of the belief that he has to destroy the LP to save it?

  38. nemo

    Meh. n/m – system does require session IDs (stupid clunky search) so you have to hit refresh after hitting the link anyway.
    Sorry for spamming your discussion. Do carry on.

  39. Monster5

    Mind you, I am inclined to believe that Mr. Chastain did not make a knowing falsehood.

    Yet, you filed a criminal complaint against the Barr campaign, which ostensibly is against David Chastain, considering it’s his ass on the line should any laws be broken.

  40. Brian Miller

    The Chairman of our Party should be working to increase the size of the Party and not run their opponents out of town.

    Hmmm. Someone should ask Ms. Keaton and Mr. Wrights what they think of that assertion.

    Yet, you filed a criminal complaint against the Barr campaign, which ostensibly is against David Chastain, considering it’s his ass on the line should any laws be broken.

    A position Chastain willingly accepted when he decided to assume the office in question.

    It’s sorta dizzying to consider that the last bastion of defense for the old guard who have failed to deliver in the LNC is “reporting potential fraud is BAD and UNLIBERTARIAN.”

  41. Thomas L. Knapp Post author


    You’re saying that the best thing for Phillies to have done was to saddle the party with immediate and negative publicity, regardless of whether or not there turned out to be any “there” there, rather than to see the matter quietly investigated first to find OUT if any wrongdoing had occurred.

  42. LP Pragmatist

    So why doesn’t Phillies just spare us the embarrassment and drop out of the LNC chairs race. The entire deal has an odor to it that doesn’t reasonate at all in the Midwest.

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