Marc Montoni: ‘The $1,000 Challenge’ for Libertarian candidates

Posted by Marc Montoni at Free Virginia:

So, you’re a Libertarian Candidate, and you want a big donation from me. Sure! I have $1,000 burning a hole in my pocket. You can claim it — all of it.

But it isn’t “free”. You’ll need to have some ducks in a row. Here are my requirements:


1) You must have a written campaign platform with no substantial deviations from the LP platform or with Libertarian principles. If you’re in favor of any new tax, or some form of gun control, or interfering with people trying to move from one place to another, or interfering with the right of association, or more government enforcement related to this or that victimless ‘crime’, well, I can donate to a bunch of Democrats and Republicans if those things interested me. Libertarianism is about *abolitionism*.

2) You should have a reasonably detailed campaign plan. I will want a copy. While each campaign should have some flexibility in the specifics discussed in its submission, I would expect to see the following information:

(a) A statement specifying the personal financial commitment you will make to your campaign.

(b) A description of the manpower resources committed to the campaign. In particular, the description should included a list of key campaign personnel, along with brief descriptions of their previous campaign experience.

– (i) I am not disposed to provide resources to any campaign that does not have both a campaign manager and a treasurer who knows something about campaign finance reporting requirements.

– (ii) The candidate should serve neither as his own campaign manager nor as his own treasurer, except in unusual circumstances.

(c) A biography of the candidate.

(d) Assessment of whether there is a reasonable chance the candidate will not be able to complete the campaign. (For example, if the candidate has been informed of a possible change in job status, such as being transferred to a different state, this should be disclosed.)

(e) A description of anticipated fundraising sources and activities, along with information about pledges from prospective donors. (As in Item 3 above, information about prospective donors will be treated with discretion. To the extent that such information is included in LPVa or local party files, it may be appropriate to redact names from such reports.)

(f) A description of campaign strategy (e.g., what issues will the campaign emphasize) and a proposed timeline for campaign activities. This description should include information such as anticipated number of votes needed to win, as well as a basic analysis of the voting patterns of the district. (For example, assuming previous data exist, what percentage of voters in the district vote Democrat, vote Republican, vote Libertarian, etc.)

(e) A description of campaign goals and performance metrics. (For example, if the candidate considers winning the election to be unlikely, what are the alternative goals of the campaign? Obtaining at least X number of votes? Causing the incumbent to be defeated? Winning the candidate’s home precinct?) Personally, my preference is that all candidates use their races as an opportunity to finding and recruiting the libertarians who are already out there into becoming members, supporters, and — candidates for next year.

Be realistic. Candidates who overblow their case and generally have absolutely unrealistic expectations aren’t going to get *my* money. So many times, I’ve listened to LP candidates who swear that theirs is a winnable campaign. The fact that they are out-funded and out-volunteered by a factor of 5, 50, or 500 to 1 doesn’t seem to faze them. If you think you’re going to win, you better have some solid polling results that agree with you.

3) You must have at least the basics assembled of a campaign: a) a website that gives some sort of candidate/campaign overview as well as several high-resolution, media-quality photographs ready for download by media outlets; 2) a basic campaign flyer and yard sign, both with complementary designs to project a consistent image; and items associated with the campaign plan (for instance, if you have a treasurer, you should already have a bank account in the name of the campaign.

4) You must have reasonable credit history. Repeated personal bankruptcies, well… if you can’t stay within budget, you should be a Republican or Democrat.

5) You must have a clean criminal history. I may make an exception for victimless crime convictions, but expect full disclosure.

6) You must have a reasonably clean driving record. If you’ve had three DUI’s and been at-fault in more than one or two accidents, well, cowboy, it’s time to get yourself a bicycle.

7) You must have a clean civil history. If you have made your fortune like John Edwards did, by filing lawsuits against innocents, well, you’re not my candidate. Conversely, if you’ve been sued six or seven times, sounds to me like you need to find a safer line of work.

8) There must be a disclosure statement, concerning any potentially embarrassing or controversial aspects of the your background. This statement should include all information in items 4, 5, 6, and 7 above; and you must make it available for review by the members who attend your district nominating meeting, as well as the city or county committee and the State Central Committee, PRIOR TO any approval by any of these committees. The state and local party committees will treat these disclosures with discretion; such statements should not be available for public scrutiny.

9) You must have already been certified as “on the ballot”.

10) You must have been formally endorsed/nominated as the official LP candidate during a meeting of the members WHO RESIDE WITHIN YOUR ELECTION DISTRICT; *and* you must also be formally approved by the county or city Libertarian committee in which you live. No exceptions. This is how the major-party candidates are nominated, and we can do the same thing.

10) All of the required financial reports must be up-to-date. I’ll want copies.

11) “Open Secrets” — Campaign finance reports should be accessible online on your campaign website; or if it can be linked to VaPAP or the SBOE website, that’s fine as long as there is a prominent, non-hidden menu link to that page on your site.

12) You must openly identify yourself as a Libertarian candidate in all campaign appearances, on your literature, on your website, in your media releases, and the like. I will not donate to anyone who has a history of being involved in the Republican Liberty Caucus, the Democratic Freedom Caucus, or who accepts the endorsement of any other political party. Call it being a partisan hack all you want, but I do not intend to give anyone money for sending a mixed message about the abolitionist basis of the libertarian philosophy and the political party that represents it.

13) You must *demonstrate* a thorough understanding of the necessity of recruiting new members into the LP; which means:

submit all campaign contacts to the LP for followup on a timely basis — preferably daily

– providing PROMINENT and EASY access to visitors to the campaign website to ask for more information about the LP

14) You must provide some evidence that you have done some serious fundraising already, on your own. I’ve been in the LP since 1980, and for all of that 30 years, I’ve observed LP candidates enter races that typically cost a winning winning candidates, oh, say $50,000 — and then watched them give all sorts of reasons why the LP or LP members should give them thousands of dollars, even though he hasn’t even raised a few hundred from friends and family.

It’s fairly easy to raise at least a few thousand dollars just from friends and business associates. See:

Additional campaign and party-building tips are available:

“Serious funds” means seriousness about winning the election. The LP candidate seeking election should work towards funding superiority. He should raise and spend as much or more than the COLLECTIVE opposition. Yes, that means if you’re in a 3-way race, your fundraising must exceed the funds available to BOTH of your opponents. We’re the only guys advocating freedom — the other guys are BOTH advertising socialism. Unless you have enough dosh that you can drown *them* out, you’re not going to win. Fundraising should be at the heart of any serious campaign. If you don’t raise money, you can’t advertise. If you don’t advertise, you aren’t going to get elected.

If you can’t raise enough to give the majors a serious run for their money, then you’re running for the wrong office. Try running for County Board of Supervisors, or Town Council, instead.

However, if you want to stay in the race you’re in, and you are not going to win, then it had better be a campaign that directs all efforts to signing up more LP members to build the cadre for next year.

15) You must have demonstrated some ability to find volunteers for your campaign. This is almost as important as fundraising. The majors send their volunteers out to knock on doors for them, to manage their campaigns’ “back office”, and so on.

16) You must provide in a timely manner a reasonably detailed post-election report to all of your donors, to the LPVA State Central Committee, and to your local endorsing committee.

17) Not a formal requirement for my $1,000, but I’d appreciate provide copies of campaign material (e.g., signs, posters, flyers, bumperstickers, fundraising letters, etc.) and news coverage (e.g., newspaper clippings, video and audiotapes of media interviews) for LPVa archival purposes.

18) If you accept money from me, but you decide to withdraw from your race for any reason other than a medical condition or involuntary transfer by your employer, you shall refund my donation(s) first, before any loans are paid and before any other donors are reimbursed. In the event you have no campaign funds left, you must shall reimburse me and other donors using your own personal funds.


That’s my checklist. It’s not short, and there are hoops to jump through. But there is $1,000 waiting at the end of the hoops. And, not a single one of my requirements is any less than a major-party candidate would be required to do for them. This is common-sense, party-building stuff.

To make your case, write me at Freedom (/at/) (Remove the obvious spamtrap elements).

Here are a few resources you might find useful:

Campaign Planning Manual from the Libertarian Party of Indiana

Political Resource Library, from

29 thoughts on “Marc Montoni: ‘The $1,000 Challenge’ for Libertarian candidates

  1. Doug Craig

    Man I love this ,this is effing great.This is the kind of stuff the LNC should be kicking around.
    We dont win races because we dont run races to win them. You have to compete with the big at some lvl to win. Either money or people or great press or internet following Or you can put in a ton of time but at some point you got to out campaign the r or d at some level having the best ideas will only get you so far

    BTW is this open to candidates not from your state

  2. Steven R Linnabary

    I probably wouldn’t qualify. I’ve been arrested and jailed 30-50 times (@ the Pentagon, Electric Boat in Groton CT & the Soviet Consulate in NYC, etc.).

    And in past campaigns I have been endorsed by the Reform and Green Parties (in 2000) and I once actually sought the republican endorsement in a nonpartisan school board race (in ’99) where they didn’t bother to field candidates.

    And I’ve ALWAYS served as my own treasurer because I don’t want any of my friends jailed for my refusal to divulge my supporters names and addresses.

    But other than that, this looks like an excellent proposition for any SERIOUS LP candidate.

    BTW, I especially like #1 and #14.


  3. Vaughn

    I’ m sure there is a 1 on 1 race somewhere that could be won with the addition of $1,000, like a county commissioner or state legislator.

  4. Marc Montoni

    John Jay Myers said:

    Marc here is a web page I created where you can find all of the answers to your specific questions:

    John, Doug asked explicitly and you asked implicitly whether my offer was open to candidates outside of Virginia; also, this offer was designed for candidates in 2011 and 2012, rather than this year (campaigns this year are already “set” as far as campaign plans are concerned). Frankly, I had not anticipated my offer “going national”, and so my offer was directed at potential Virginia candidates (thus all the references to Virginia resources, laws, and reporting).

    Also, I understand that a campaign for congress in Texas in some ways might be a “smaller” race than many other local races in other states, however, my intent is to donate to a local or state campaign where an infusion of $1000 will have a somewhat substantial effect. This can’t happen in a congressional race.

    John, I may well drop some bucks on your race. However, my $1,000 offer is for another kind of race.

    The TX LP should attempt to find some LP members in-state who might be interested in doing what I am in their own state.

  5. Marc Montoni

    Steven R Linnabary said:

    I probably wouldn’t qualify.

    Like I said, Steven, I generally make exception for victimless crimes, with full disclosure. But again, my offer was mainly for Virginians, and preferably in local or state-level races.

    And I’ve ALWAYS served as my own treasurer because I don’t want any of my friends jailed for my refusal to divulge my supporters names and addresses.

    I understand, and that’s probably an excellent reason. I respect the fact that you wish to protect others from the fist of the state that may fall on you. You’re a brave man and a great fighter, and we are fortunate to have you.

  6. Marc Montoni

    Vaughn said:

    I’m sure there is a 1 on 1 race somewhere that could be won with the addition of $1,000, like a county commissioner or state legislator.

    I agree, which is why I issued the challenge. I want to find that campaign.

    You should switch over to the LP and issue your own challenge to LP members in OH, and help us find “that campaign” as well. 😉

  7. paulie Post author

    The TX LP should attempt to find some LP members in-state who might be interested in doing what I am in their own state

    A list of criteria such as this should be used by the LNC, LNCC, Liberty for America, or some other group(s) to match donors with candidates who can put the money to its best possible use.

  8. paulie Post author

    You should switch over to the LP and issue your own challenge to LP members in OH, and help us find “that campaign” as well.

    Or, failing that, other alt parties should develop similar strategies for tragetting money towards their best opportunities. I know they don’t have much money, but they do have some.

  9. Marc Montoni

    @ 11 I might agree Paulie, but the LNC & LNCC have no incentive to support a bonafide libertarian campaign, because the majority on those committees are obsessed just with winning.

    I put the “principled” requirement first because I see no point in electing a “libertarian” who has a bunch of “exceptions”. I understand that some feel advocating for a new tax (for example) doesn’t undermine the libertarian message, but I disagree and therefore I will not subsidize that view with my money.

    I agree with the “small government plus one exception equals big government” maxim. We’re in the mess we’re in now because Democrats and Republicans have both accepted each others’ “one exceptions” for two centuries. Over time, those exceptions add up to the rule.

  10. paulie Post author

    Any organization can accomplish this task. If no existing organization is suitable, a new one should be started. I hope you are not the only potential donor who would appreciate having a database of this type of information to better target your donations.

    If the database existed, each donor could choose which factors they consider most important, and/or contact the candidates/campaigns for additional information. The database or gatekeeper organization would just act as an initial sorting tool.

    Supposing you are correct and the LNC/LNCC does not care how libertarian the candidates are, but screens for all the nuts and bolts stuff. At this point you could check out the websites of and news articles about the candidates who have not been screened out, which would be a much less daunting task than doing all the research on every candidate.

    Or, suppose LNC was screening for one set of factors (nuts and bolts) and the radical caucus campaign review committee (hypothetical organization) was screening for ideological factors. You could then see which, if any, candidates wound up near the top of both rankings.

  11. JT

    Vaughn: “I’m sure there is a 1 on 1 race somewhere that could be won with the addition of $1,000, like a county commissioner or state legislator.”

    I doubt it. How much do you think R and D county commission or state legislature candidates spend on their campaigns? $3k? That money could raise the vote total for an L, but I’m very skeptical that it’s enough by itself to make the difference between a winning and losing campaign for a partisan race.

  12. Dave Nalle

    Since you rule out all Republican Liberty Caucus members you might as well just burn your money. It would save more time. You’ve ruled out all the best candidates in the states which allow dual party registration or in nonparitsan elections who actually have a chance of winning.

    And I can’t imagine even a LP candidate jumping through the hoops you lay out here. It’s not enough money to justify the work involved.

    Got to admire your remarkable arrogance, though. It’s impressive.


  13. paulie Post author


    I’m not sure how likely Marc thinks it is that he’ll part with the $1k, but I took his post as more of an educational one, which is why I found it interesting and posted it here. What I’m hoping for – and think Marc was hoping for – is that at least some of the candidates will read all or most of his checklist and think about how to implement some of it.

    If they do so seriously, I expect they would gain a lot more than $1,000, with or without Marc.

  14. JT

    Paulie: “Depends on the size of the county. I bet there are plenty that don’t even spend that much.”

    Could be, Paulie. In fact, I’m sure that’s true for a county commission or state legislature candidate in a district where another party doesn’t even have a candidate or only has a paper candidate. But I think it’s probably different in almost all *competitive* partisan races for those offices. I just said I was skeptical that $1k could itself change the outcome, and I still am.

    Dave: “And I can’t imagine even a LP candidate jumping through the hoops you lay out here. It’s not enough money to justify the work involved.”

    I don’t think it’s impossible. Improbable though.

  15. Marc Montoni

    Dave said:

    Since you rule out all Republican Liberty Caucus members you might as well just burn your money. It would save more time. You’ve ruled out all the best candidates in the states which allow dual party registration or in nonparitsan elections who actually have a chance of winning.

    1) Too bad. It’s my money and I am free to give it to whoever I wish.

    2) Supporting Republicans and Democrats interests me not in the least. Doing so doesn’t win me less government.

    3) Donors to RLC candidates have done their share of money burning supporting RLC-endorsed candidates. The few that get elected also seem to have a real problem with sticking to the libertarian agenda. Most can’t hold a candle to Ron Paul — and while pretty damn good, he also falls off the wagon quite enough for me.

    4) Winning is not my main goal, although it is one of them. If I score a win but the LP in the area ends up losing most of its membership shortly afterwards (rather than growing larger), and the candidate promptly forgets to act like a libertarian once in office, just what in the hell have I “won”?

    And I can’t imagine even a LP candidate jumping through the hoops you lay out here. It’s not enough money to justify the work involved.

    Really? So you’re saying LP candidates are too lazy to do the basic politics 101 things that may actually get them elected? That they are immune from the laws of politics, where you actually need to plan your campaign, raise money, recruit volunteers, doorhang, and be shovel-ready for the media?

    What sort of insufferable arrogance do you possess that makes you pass such a negative judgement against those who are trying to make our nation freer?

    I disagree with you. I think there are libertarian-Libertarians who *are* ready to do politics like they mean it, and I mean to find them.

    Got to admire your remarkable arrogance, though. It’s impressive.

    So offering a fairly substantial pile of money to the right candidate demonstrates arrogance? Would it demonstrate more or less arrogance to keep silent and offer nothing? You must live in a different world. I live in one where people can voluntarily donate to the campaigns that interest them, under the conditions that satisfy them.

  16. Tom Blanton

    Marc, I have a hunch that when 2013 rolls around, you’re going to have a $1,000 in your pocket.

    Condition number one is going to eliminate the majority of LP candidates in Virginia from getting the dough.

    Maybe you should consider investing that grand in a bunch of re-usable yard signs that support Nobody.


  17. Chuck Moulton

    Dave Nalle wrote (@17):

    Since you rule out all Republican Liberty Caucus members you might as well just burn your money. It would save more time. …

    Got to admire your remarkable arrogance, though. It’s impressive.

    It’s pretty sad that the RLC is chaired by an asshole.

    Personally I support both the Libertarian Party and the Republican Liberty Caucus. I want more liberty and I’m willing to employ multiple concurrent strategies to make that happen.

    I’ve donated to libertarian Libertarians, libertarian Republicans, and libertarian Independents. I’d donate to a libertarian Democrat if I could find one up to snuff.

    Unfortunately some people in both the RLC and the LP have cast the organizations as enemies of one another. It makes it very hard to persuade my Libertarian friends that there are some Republicans worthy of their support and very hard to persuade my Republican friends that there are some Libertarians worthy of their support when a few loudmouth jerks get in positions of power and publicly troll to create controversy and discordance within the libertarian movement.

    I heard rumors that former RLC chair (and current RLC treasurer) Bill Westmiller was sometimes anti-LP in private meetings, but I never saw him speak ill of the LP in the RLC events I went to or on the web. Similarly RLC vice-chair Aaron Biterman may be constructively critical of what he sees as some bad LP politicking practices at times, but he is generally positive and cordial to Libertarians. The Nalle administration in contrast is a huge step down for the RLC. His above comment fits a consistent pattern of cacophony of which I’ve taken note.

    I’ll be attending the 2011 RLC national convention in Arlington, VA this coming February as a non-voting delegate (registered Libertarian, but monthly pledging RLC supporter). While there I’ll be encouraging all my RLC friends to give Dave Nalle the boot.

  18. Norm Westwell

    I am the only ELECTED Libertarian in Southern California. I arm running for a seat on the Huntington Beach City Council. HB is the 16 largest City in KA with a population of 200,000. There are 4 ballot positions with one incumbent and 3 open seats who are termed out.

    My Name is Norm Westwell.
    I am currently serving an uncontested second term at Trustee for the Ocean View School District. I served as Board Clerk in 2008 and President in 2009.

    I have raised over $11K and still have $10 in the bank. I have already overwhelmed the city with 60 8′ x 4′ signs. I still have 50 left. And lots of little signs also. I recycle signs so I have zillions of them. Bla Bla Bal. Visit my site please. THIS IS A WINNABLE RACE.

    You can donate online.

    Thank You.

    Go LP.

  19. Marc Montoni

    Actually, Chuck, I cannot support the RLC in any case.

    One reason is the consistently rude, inflammatory language its leaders (and members) have historically leveled at LP members and the LP in general.

    Most RLC members have at one point or another spoken disparagingly of the LP, when they should be congratulating our efforts, encouraging us, and treating us as natural allies. More than a few call outright for the demise of the LP.

    But the major reason I can’t go RLC is the fairly predictable failure of RLC elected officials to “walk the talk”.

    For exxample, the RLC’s homepage in 2001 claimed a list of congressmen who identified with the RLC. However, pulling up a roll-call vote on the Patriot Act, looking for the RLC members’ names, and counting up the “Yes” and “No” votes revealed the wide gap between the RLC’s claims of success and the reality.

    I understand there are some “true believers” in the cult of the RLC, who continue to contend that the RLC is significantly advancing liberty. Obviously, we’re all allowed to have different opinions on this, but there’s a reason I joined the LP — *both* the Republican and Democratic parties have become the most destructive force to civil liberties in America. Both have colluded to grow the size of the government by — oh, what, this year — 25% over last year?

    So I do not believe the RLC is a vehicle we can use to advance liberty. I have the same misgivings about the DFC (may it rest in peace).

  20. Aaron

    Marc Montoni is giving us a lecture on how to treat people with respect, and then he goes on to call the RLC a “cult”. What nice deccorum.

    The RLC is a group of people interested in advancing libertarian principles in the Republican Party. Participation is voluntary, but we welcome anyone who agrees with our mission statement.

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