Rachel Hawkridge responds to Chris Barber’s letter about George Phillies

Email from LNC Region 7 Rep Rachel Hawkridge to contact.ipr@gmail.com:

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 7/9/09

Colleagues,

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

Treasurer

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 = http://www.nolo.com/dictionary/libel-per-se-term.html) is a civil action, and on the heels of the Wrights debacle, 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 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 (wes.benedict@lp.org).

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.


See previous IPR coverage here and here.

22 thoughts on “Rachel Hawkridge responds to Chris Barber’s letter about George Phillies

  1. it is a joke

    why the hell is this stuff out here for all to see?
    Are we nuts?
    No wonder most people laugh at us.
    How about focusing on getting some people elected.

  2. Transparency Is Good

    The voters should see all internal LP issues.

    (1) Transparency, as a principle, is good.

    (2) Voters might respect a party that comes clean on all issues, rather than politics-as-usual coverups.

  3. Thomas L. Knapp

    “why the hell is this stuff out here for all to see?”

    Because Chris Barber (probably acting as proxy for Aaron Starr) decided that it could be usefully deployed as a torpedo to sink George Phillies’s campaign for chair.

    Next question?

  4. Pingback: George Phillies responds to Chris Barber’s letter | Independent Political Report

  5. George Phillies

    In addition, having fallen for whoever gave him his lines to attack me, Mr. Barber then decided to attack the rest of the New Path Slate.

    Some of the folks supporting the same chair candidate also circulated the accusation to the LPIL delegate list that I had promised to send money to Illinois for ballot access, and had not delivered*. Fortunately, I had just received the very nice thank you note from Julie Fox, who is a wonderful person and a great Libertarian, several members of the LPIL delegation had forwarded the message I did not see to me, and I was able to forward it to Illinois. I have no idea which LPIL delegates have seen it yet.

    *It appears that they also found someone to use to circulate the rumor, who also did not ask me if she was being used by her friends, so I will not even name her, because she is also a nice person and a good Libertarian.

    Having said that, the LPIL really needs your money for ballot access, and the LPCA really needs your help for phone banking against the Republican Proposition 14.

    Prop 14 is the Republican 14 declaration of war via Pearl Harbor attack on our party, and if elected chair you may be sure that I will remember that and repay the favor in kind.

  6. Brian Holtz

    Tom, if George did the Right Thing here by filing a criminal complaint against the LP, then shouldn’t the exposure of his secret heroic act help his campaign rather than “torpedo” it?

    If not, then what other kinds of information about Chair candidates do you think our NatCon delegates are not competent to evaluate for themselves?

  7. Nicholas Sarwark

    Tom, if George did the Right Thing here by filing a criminal complaint against the LP, then shouldn’t the exposure of his secret heroic act help his campaign rather than “torpedo” it?

    It probably would be helpful if people weren’t throwing around accusations of violating the membership oath and initiating force and if the FEC didn’t hold such a special place of hate in most libertarian hearts.

    Look, it’s no secret that Phillies has made a lot of enemies in the party. Those enemies are probably more inclined to stonewall him than to explain what errors were made. Say what you will about him, George Phillies cares deeply about the Libertarian Party and has put his money and time where his mouth is for decades. If he believed that the LNC was doing some shady shit with members’ donations and he wasn’t getting a straight answer from the LNC, the next logical step is to have the appropriate authorities investigate.

    They did, the error was corrected (at least on the LNC side), the case was dropped, and here we are. All of it was handled discreetly, at least until Mr. Barber’s attack letter went out.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp

    Brian,

    You write:

    “Tom, if George did the Right Thing here by filing a criminal complaint against the LP, then shouldn’t the exposure of his secret heroic act help his campaign rather than ‘torpedo’ it?”

    Yes.

    The “tone” of the question, as best I can hear that “tone” in printed text, seems to indicate that you think I’ve said otherwise.

    I haven’t.

    I’ve said that Barber (or, more likely, Starr) decided (maybe I should have used the word “thought” instead of “decided”) that the information could be fashioned into an effective torpedo.

    If the delegates could be isolated and allowed only to hear the Barber/Starr version of things, they might be right.

    But, the facts are on George’s side and he is free to communicate those facts to the same people who got the Barber/Starr tall tale.

    I think that George will come out of this with more delegate votes in pocket than he had when the Barber/Starr letter was mailed.

    “If not, then what other kinds of information about Chair candidates do you think our NatCon delegates are not competent to evaluate for themselves?”

    Ah, the payload of the “loaded” question!

    The payload is inert since the answer to the loaded question is not “not.”

    I not believe that there’s any kind of information on the candidates which the delegates cannot or should not evaluate for themselves.

  9. Michael Seebeck

    Nick @7 said:

    Look, it’s no secret that Phillies has made a lot of enemies in the party. Those enemies are probably more inclined to stonewall him than to explain what errors were made. Say what you will about him, George Phillies cares deeply about the Libertarian Party and has put his money and time where his mouth is for decades. If he believed that the LNC was doing some shady shit with members’ donations and he wasn’t getting a straight answer from the LNC, the next logical step is to have the appropriate authorities investigate.

    They did, the error was corrected (at least on the LNC side), the case was dropped, and here we are. All of it was handled discreetly, at least until Mr. Barber’s attack letter went out.

    That sums it all up right there, best of anyone.

    Ask yourself this, folks: does it reflect badly on George that he kept it discreet, or does it reflect badly on those stonewalling him because 1) they were afraid of having their poor management exposed and 2) they launched an incoherent hit piece blaming someone else for catching their incompetence?

    Me, I go for the latter, for both reasons.

    George initiated no force here. But the Barber letter was an initiation of FARCE.

  10. LibertarianGirl

    NS__. If he believed that the LNC was doing some shady shit with members’ donations and he wasn’t getting a straight answer from the LNC, the next logical step is to have the appropriate authorities investigate.

    me _ isnt there some kind of inhouse “authority” like the Jud Com or anything short of employing the man tp potentially ruin someones career ad land them in a cage. A criminal complaint is not a civil one , its calling someone a criminal , and worse its using the laws and government we are supposedly against to make a point.

    now call me stupid , I often am , but did or didnt the LNC give Barr 10,000 ? can someone please explain simply what has happened . Neither Barbers letter nor Rachaels version are clear to me.

    also , while I dont know Rachael except for meeting her twice and thru here and FB , and yes this will sound silly , she gives me an honest- good natured vibe. I cannot imagine her doing anything with a bad intention , even if she did make a mistake.

  11. Nicholas Sarwark

    @LG – The LNC did not give Barr $10K. That was what the LNC letter (signed by Starr) to the FEC said.

    I don’t know about Rachael’s version, but I’ve read Barber’s letter and it seems deliberately misleading, which might explain why it’s unclear.

  12. Thomas L. Knapp

    LG,

    I’m not going to call you stupid, because the matter IS confusing.

    Here’s the simple version, as I understand it (I may have it wrong, too):

    The Barr campaign’s FEC reports reflected a payment from the LNC of $10,000.

    The LNC’s FEC reports did not reflect such a payment.

    There were any number of plausible explanations for that discrepancy, so when George noticed it, he asked an LNC member (Rachel Hawkridge) to look into it, rather than jumping to the conclusion that the WORST possible explanation (the LNC was, for some reason, hiding a payment to the Barr campaign).

    Hawkridge’s conversation with Dave Chastain, of the Barr campaign, convinced her that the campaign believed such a payment had been made, so she next brought the matter to the LNC to find out what was going on there — bookkeeping error, whatever.

    Instead of just openly resolving the matter, the LNC went into executive session, falsely citing the reason as a “personnel matter” and using the confidentiality of that executive session to bludgeon Hawkridge into dropping the matter, nicely out of view of, and therefore outside accountability to, the membership.

    It was at that point that George decided to contact the FEC — as oppposed to, e.g., calling down public thunder on the LNC — and he was constrained to do so in a particular way.

    He couldn’t request an “advisory opinion” on the propriety of what the LNC had done in terms of bookkeeping, because he had no way of KNOWING what they had done.

    The only recourse was a “criminal complaint” — notification to the FEC that a discrepancy existed which COULD be indicative of fraud or theft, and a request that they investigate.

    The FEC investigated briefly, and decided not to pursue the matter further.

    A brief digression:

    The FEC’s decision not to pursue the matter was, according to its own files, a matter of “prosecutorial discretion.” They weren’t saying that no crime had committed, they were saying that whether or not a crime had been committed, the thing was small enough potatoes that they’d rather use their budget on other things.

    George has capitalized on this a little bit, to the extent that he notes that the FEC investigation did not explicitly exonerate the LNC.

    To be fair, the FEC’s notes on why it didn’t go any further also cited both the LNC and the Barr campaign as seeming to be sincere in their attempts to rectify any discrepancies. So while George is right that it was not a “not guilty” verdict, neither was it a “we think you’re up to something bad but can’t be bothered with it” thing either.

    And that is where it would likely have ended, had not Chris Barber and whomever is behind him decided that the whole thing might be useful versus George’s chair candidacy.

    Until the Barber letter was sent, apparently even most of the LNC itself had no idea that there was an FEC investigation.

    George didn’t publicize it, because he had not desire to harm the party — he wasn’t going to go public unless it turned out that there HAD been fraud or theft.

    The FEC investigation was a public record, but it hadn’t exactly been plastered across the front page of the New York Times.

    I can’t blame Barber/Starr for using any political weapon at hand, but if the concern here is the party’s reputation and image, it’s pretty clear that George acted so as to protect the party, while Barber/Starr decided that damaging the party was fine if they thought it would hurt George’s campaign for the chairmanship.

  13. Brian Holtz

    The only recourse was a “criminal complaint”

    No, another recourse was to tell the LNC that a criminal complaint is the only remaining recourse.

    apparently even most of the LNC itself had no idea that there was an FEC investigation

    And that is precisely the problem with what George did. The correct way to use nuclear weaponry is to announce you have them, not to fire them and see if they work.

  14. Grab the barf bag ????????? .......... Lake

    Thomas L. Knapp // May 21, 2010:
    “Lib Grrl, I’m not going to call you stupid, because the matter IS confusing. Here’s the simple version, as I understand it (I may have it wrong, too):”

    Lake: of course it is confusing to / from Saint Louis County Tommy. (Whom do you think the rock opera was REALLY named after ???????)

    When you let personal loyalties shade the truth, not much knowledge will grow in the dark. By the by, the LP is the one and only 21st Century American Peace Party. Doctor George Phillies told me so. (So did Heart Land lap dog Knappster!)

  15. Thomas L. Knapp

    Don,

    You write:

    “When you let personal loyalties shade the truth”

    Do you have any evidence that I’ve done so?

    Was my straight reportage on the Barber letter anything BUT straight reportage?

    Does this indicate that I allow any “personal loyalty” to George Phillies to prevent me from criticizing him when I think criticism is warranted?

  16. Robert Capozzi

    tk, it IS an interesting question about the intra-LP aspects of this. I’d think Root supporters would find Hinkle and Myers more his competition than Phillies. My guess is Phillies supporters’d go to Hinkle and Hancock, mostly.

    This:

    tk: Instead of just openly resolving the matter, the LNC went into executive session, falsely citing the reason as a “personnel matter” and using the confidentiality of that executive session to bludgeon Hawkridge into dropping the matter, nicely out of view of, and therefore outside accountability to, the membership.

    Seems implausible. The LNC bludgeoned Hawkridge on this and her allies on the LNC stood by? No repercussions? No aftermath?

    RH tells GP after this, “Sorry, can’t talk about it,” and GP then doesn’t say, “Hey, this is unacceptable. I may have to go to the FEC about this,” he just files a complaint?

    No comprende, amigo.

  17. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    I’m reciting what I believe to be the facts as I know them.

    There are several reasons why you might find those factual claims implausible while I find them plausible.

    Perhaps I’m not communicating them well.

    Perhaps your view or recollection of recent LNC interactions is different than mine.

    Etc., etc.

    On the other hand, this …

    RH tells GP after this, “Sorry, can’t talk about it,” and GP then doesn’t say, “Hey, this is unacceptable. I may have to go to the FEC about this,” he just files a complaint?

    … incorporates assumptions which do not naturally follow from the factual claims I’ve set down.

    I haven’t made any factual claims one way or another, for example, as to what Hawkridge might have told Phillies after the LNC executive session, or as to how Phillies might have responded.

    So, when you call that part implausible, well, the only person to blame for the implausibility of it would be the person who thought it up. And that’s you.

  18. Brian Holtz

    Tom, thanks for the reminder. I didn’t remember that in 2007 George wrote: “fairness dictates that foreign imports be subject to the same burden, a tax equivalent to whatever minimum wage and environmental restrictions foreign manufacturers are avoiding”.

    My position is: “Commerce across borders should be without constraints, except for green pricing of the environmental externalities imposed across those borders by the traded products.” Minimum wage laws are bad enough at home; we shouldn’t be trying to impose them abroad through tariffs.

  19. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, mine should have been labeled as speculation. Unfortunately, GP’s response letter leaves more unanswered than answered, including any sense of how hard he tried to NOT file a complaint that he apparently felt needed to be filed.

    I certainly can imagine that it’d be appropriate to file a claim with the FEC against my own party. In my judgment, I’d like see a whistleblower exhaust ALL his/her reasonable options.

    That doesn’t appear to be the case here, not even close.

  20. Michael H. Wilson

    ” RH writes; “He (Starr) 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.”

    If Starr did this, and I have no reason to doubt Rachel’s comment, then it strike me that Starr is one, a very poor manager; two, has no respect for others; three, especially women; and likes to use intimidation as a management tool.

    Someone, anyone else, should and could replace him.

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