Dear Fellow Patriots,
I am reaching out to you in the spirit of fellowship and goodwill in the hope that all of us can arrive at a fair and just resolution to the very serious rift that currently threatens our beloved Libertarian Party of Oregon. In addition, it concerns me that this situation is negatively impacting the progress and direction of our national party. At a time when America sorely needs the ideas, passions, and solutions offered by Libertarians, we cannot in good conscience allow this quarrel to continue.
Let’s review the facts that lay before us. Over the past two years, two rival factions have been battling for control of the Libertarian Party of Oregon (LPO). Each faction is promoting its own agenda and supporting its own slate of candidates for state and national offices.
One faction, led by Wes Wagner, recognizes him as chairman of the LPO. The other faction recognizes Tim Reese as chairman. The Reese faction is backed by Richard Burke and M Carling. In my opinion, both factions want to do the right thing by pursuing their own agenda and strategies. However, when strong passions and dynamic personalities clash, feelings and egos can become bruised.
It’s important to understand how this unfortunate situation developed. At the 2009 LPO state convention, we voted on many changes to our bylaws. All of these amendments were prepared in advance and recommended by Burke and Carling. One of the motions was not published in advance. This amendment stated that if no explicit rules existed in our bylaws regarding any issue, then the issue would be resolved by applying Robert’s Rules of Order.
I was present at this convention. I expressed my concern about voting for an amendment that was presented hastily and which did not seem to serve any practical purpose. . (I’ve seen this tactic tried when I served as Vice Chair of the LNC). However, Carling supported the amendment’s passage and I deferred to his superior knowledge of Libertarian bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order. The amendment passed and the bylaws were amended.
At the invitation of the Reese faction, LNC Chair Mark Hinkle and LNC Secretary Alicia Matson attended the subsequent state convention. Citing the newly adopted amendment to the bylaws, Hinkle and Matson ruled that an LPO quorum was not based on the number of active party members but rather on everyone who had ever joined the party—an unrealistic number. As a result of this ruling, it is now virtually impossible to achieve quorum to call a meeting, elect new officers, amend the party bylaws, or conduct any meaningful LPO business.
The current situation is a dysfunctional stalemate with two executive committees, one led by the Wagner faction and the other led by the Reese faction – each claiming legitimacy. To convolute matters even further, the Wagner executive committee adopted a new set of bylaws to support its agenda. The legitimacy of this new set of bylaws has been called into serious question.
The bottom line is how do we resolve this dispute in the easiest, quickest way possible – so that we can move on with the party’s business? Currently, there seem to be two courses-of-action.
The first option is to recognize the Wagner executive committee as the legitimate governing body of the LPO. The Libertarian Party National Judicial Committee ruled that the Wagner executive committee was in fact the legitimate ruling arm. However, this decision was not supported by LNC Chair Hinkle, who has stated that he does not recognize the Wagner executive committee.
The second option is to disaffiliate the LPO and install a new executive committee. This would essentially create a new and second LPO. The Reese faction is actively pursuing this course of action. Although this second option may initially appear feasible, it would likely create even more problems and uncertainty. Our party would likely encounter serious reproof from the secretary of state’s office, from our membership, and from our donors and supporters. Party assets would be in dispute. We face the real chance of loosing our ballot access status.
Yes, friends. We’ve created a huge challenge for ourselves. But the overriding question is where do we go from here? In my opinion, neither of the two aforementioned options is ideal. After evaluating facts, personalities, and agendas, I propose a different course of action:
o We recognize the Wes Wagner executive committee. This was also the ruling by the LPO Judicial Committee. I agree with their decision.
o We need to void (nullify, etc.) the amendment that created the unrealistic quorum requirement. There are many reasons why this amendment can and should be nullified. I propose that the national Judicial Committee meet again and vote to void this amendment.
o We also need to nullify the new Oregon bylaws that were adopted by the Wagner executive committee. In my opinion, the executive committee did not have the authority to adopt new bylaws. (If the LPO membership wishes to change bylaws, it can do so at any future state convention.)
Even if this course of action is taken, there is no guarantee that the Wagner faction will recognize these decisions. It is my hope that he (along with the rest of the Oregon Executive Committee) decides to resolve this stalemate before this problem escalates even further.
Moving forward, I urge that all of us to drop our fixation with bylaws,
Robert’s Rules of Order, and other constraints and clever attempts to further an agenda by manipulating our policies. Please keep in mind our true adversaries in our fight for liberty! Let’s devote our time, energy, and brainpower on activities that are key to our party’s growth – activities like marketing, membership recruitment, candidate development, and fundraising. I also urge the LNC to not over-step their bounds or muddle in the activities of the state affiliates.
When I served on the LNC, too many of our discussions revolved around rules and parliamentary procedure. Friends, we’re losing touch with what’s truly important. In our preoccupation with rules, we’re neglecting our friends and neighbors who desperately need action and solutions. Parliamentary procedure is not going to create jobs or put food on the table. I fervently believe that our party is not about rules. It’s about a purpose – to increase personal freedom and personal responsibility. It’s about fundraising, and spreading our message, and attracting powerful candidates to run for office. It’s about inspiring more citizens to rally around our principles and join the Libertarian party.
At future Libertarian conventions, I respectfully ask you (the LP members) to re-evaluate the qualities that your leadership should possess. I encourage you to especially consider individuals who can share experience and knowledge in areas like marketing, public relations, organizational development, fundraising, just to name a few.
The situation that we find ourselves in is politically driven – and it is a mistake. Let us put aside our petty differences and desire for control. Let us forgive the barbs and insults that may have wounded us. Let us remember why we joined the Libertarian Party in the first place. At this dangerous juncture in our nation’s history, it is critical that we recommit ourselves to the greater fight – the fight for personal liberty and freedom. Please. Let’s do the right thing now.
Freedom & Peace,
Michael P. Jingozian
Former Vice Chairman, LNC