On May 5, 2011, at 7:54 pm, the Libertarian Party of Nevada had over sixty members, three active county-level affiliates, and enjoyed constantly increasing momentum month after month. Each local affiliate proudly hosted events at least once a month. With the weather improving and convention season beginning, each local affiliate was putting its booth staffing plans into place, purchasing outreach brochures, printing membership packets, and generally doing all of the little things necessary to get the word out. Less than an hour later, the Libertarian Party of Nevada had under twenty members, no county-level affiliates, and had granted its Chair the power to manage its funds in whatever manner he deemed fit, devoid of any and all oversight.
How could this happen? How could the state that is planning to host the national Libertarian Party convention in less than a year lose over two-thirds of its membership and abandon all future activity throughout the state?
It was all because of two motions passed by the LP Nevada’s Executive Committee over the course of a half hour meeting. The first motion, proposed by Irv Hopkins, At-Large Representative, though almost certainly not authored by him was:
“I move to consolidate the Libertarian Party in Nevada by revoking the affiliate status of all Nevada county based chapters of the Libertarian Party, including the Libertarian Party of Clark County, Nevada Capital Libertarian Party, and Nye County Libertarian Party, thereby folding them into one cohesive state organization until such time as membership levels warrant the re-chartering of county organizations.”
According to state bylaws, members in affiliated counties have their dues set by the affiliate. Most affiliates in Nevada had abandoned the practice of collecting mandatory dues, reflecting Nevada’s status as the worst-hit state in the country, economically speaking, with the worst unemployment rate in the country. Also, if you’re a member of an existing affiliate, you’re a member of the state LP, provided your affiliate paid a minimum of $10 for each person it declared a member of the state party. However, that membership is not transferable if your affiliate suddenly ceases to exist. If you suddenly find yourself living in an unaffiliated area, you’re only a member if you directly contributed at least $50 ($25 to the national LP, $25 to the state LP) within the past calendar year. The only people in affiliated areas that would have any reason to do this would be “1776 Brigade” members, who donate $17.76 a month to the state LP. At the time this motion was considered, there were fewer than twenty Brigade members.
One of those members was Wayne Allyn Root, Nevada’s own champion of small government guided through individual responsibility.
Time after time Wayne had spoken in favor of lower taxes, decreased centralization of our government, and the importance of letting local people make local decisions. Yet, when it came time to put those words to action, he instead chose to raise fees, lower the number of fully franchised libertarians in his state to a third of its original number, and “consolidate” all power in the hands of an eight member committee that meets by telephone once a quarter. Sadly, his abandonment of the principles that he so forcefully and routinely advocated didn’t end there. He also voted in favor of this gem:
“Irv moves to authorize the Chair the use of any LPN funds for such functions as outreach, campaigns, fundraising, and the annual convention.”
In short, Wayne Allyn Root, champion of small, transparent, open government, voted in favor of abdicating all responsibility and oversight over the funds of the Libertarian Party of Nevada to the Chair to use on whatever he can justify as “outreach, campaigns, fundraising, and the annual convention.” Since this is every single conceivable legitimate expenditure the Libertarian Party of Nevada could possibly make, it effectively grants Wayne’s good friend Joe Silvestri complete and total discretion over the party’s funds.
The trouble with accepting responsibility and accepting a position as a voting officer in an organization like the Libertarian Party is that, sooner or later, you’re bound to develop a voting record. When you do, people will be able to see clearly and transparently whether your words match your actions. In the case of Wayne Allyn Root, as much as I enjoy his words from time to time, his actions speak louder and I find them disappointing.
And so does Nevada.
See minutes here: lpnminutes032511corrected