LP Nat Com Rejects JC Decision re Oregon

From Alicia Mattson’s email to voting members of the LP National Board:

“Voting “aye”:  Eshelman, Karlan, Knedler, Lark, Mattson, Redpath,
Root, Rutherford, Sink-Burris, Visek, Wiener, Wolf

Voting “nay”:  Blau, Craig, Olsen, Ploeger, Ruwart

With a final vote tally of 12-5, the motion PASSES.

Alicia Mattson
LNC Secretary”


Sponsors:  Dan Wiener, Wayne Root, Randy Eshelman, Dan Karlan


Whereas, Article 9, Section 2 of the Libertarian Party Bylaws
specifically restricts the authority of the Judicial Committee:

The subject matter jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee is limited
to consideration of only those matters expressly identified as
a. suspension of affiliate parties (Article 6, Section 6),
b. suspension of officers (Article 7, Section 8),
c. suspension of National Committee members-at-large (Article 8, Section 5),
d. voiding of National Committee decisions (Article 8, Section 13),
e. challenges to platform planks (Rule 5, Section 7),
f. challenges to Resolutions (Rule 6, Section 2), and
g. suspension of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates
(Article 14, Section5)

Whereas, these explicit restrictions were enumerated in detail in the
Bylaws for the purpose of preventing an unchecked Judicial Committee
from usurping the duly authorized powers of the Libertarian National
Committee to control and manage the affairs of the Party consistent
with the Bylaws;

Whereas, it is apparent under the 2009 Libertarian Party of Oregon
(LPO) Bylaws that it was impossible for Wes Wagner and his associate
claimants to be the legitimate leadership of LPO as of the date of the
Judicial Committee appeal, and therefore under Article 6, Section 6 of
the Bylaws the Wagner-led faction lacked standing to initiate an
appeal on behalf of the LPO;

Whereas, the Judicial Committee lacked jurisdiction under any other
provision of the Bylaws to hear the complaint brought by Mr. Wagner;

Whereas, the dispute in question has always been about recognizing the
leadership of officers properly selected under LPO’s 2009 Bylaws, and
not the choosing between two organizations or disaffiliating a state

Whereas, the Bylaws do not grant any authority to the Judicial
Committee to determine matters of state affiliate leadership;

Whereas, in its statement of August 25 and subsequent clarification on
September 23, the Judicial Committee declared that the Libertarian
Party of a particular state (and by implication, the leadership of
that state party), is the entity recognized by the secretary of state
(in this case, the Secretary of State of Oregon);

Whereas, this declaration is neither stated nor implied by any
provision of the Libertarian Party Bylaws, and thus amounts to the
crafting of a rule of its own making and an arrogation of power;

Whereas, this declaration and attendant decision may be mistakenly
cited by state agencies and courts as evidence that the Libertarian
Party Bylaws require the National Committee to recognize as affiliate
officers those people recognized by state officials, rather than those
who are duly selected according to the state affiliate’s bylaws;

Whereas, this declaration and attendant decision therefore places
state affiliates in greater jeopardy of untoward interference by state
officials and those hostile to the interests of the Libertarian Party
and its affiliates;
Whereas, the Judicial Committee made a further declaration on
September 23 concerning its view of affiliate autonomy, a subject
about which no appeal was made and no hearing conducted; and

Whereas, a direct consequence of the Judicial Committee’s improper
actions of August 25 and September 23 was the Oregon Secretary of
State’s September 29 decision to recognize the last officers known to
them, rather than the officers elected by members of the Libertarian
Party of Oregon in accordance with its bylaws.

Therefore be it resolved, it is the sense of the Libertarian National
Committee that the decision by four members of the Judicial Committee
in its 4-3 declaration regarding the Libertarian Party of Oregon is
not justified by the Libertarian Party Bylaws, and that the Judicial
Committee has acted outside of its limited authority, which is clearly
and explicitly defined in the Libertarian Party Bylaws; and

Be it further resolved, the Libertarian National Committee finds that
the Judicial Committee’s decision is irreparably tainted by the fact
that the deciding vote on the decision was cast by a person with an
obvious conflict of interest, and that in any other venue of
jurisprudence a person with such conflicts of interest would have been
expected or required to recuse himself.

Thank you to Nicholas Sarwark for this story.

34 thoughts on “LP Nat Com Rejects JC Decision re Oregon

  1. Darryl W. Perry

    In basic English, what is the affect of this resolution?
    1) Has LPO been disaffiliated?
    2) Is the Reeve’s faction, without ballot access the official LP affiliate?
    3) Is Lee Wrights being asked to resign/recuse himself from the Judicial Committee?

  2. Who Appointed LNC Final Authority?

    And what if the Judicial Committee resolves that the LNC, right now, acted outside its limited authority and contrary to the By Laws?

    Why does the LNC imagine that it has final word?

    I thought judicial committees existed to keep executives and legislative bodies in check.

    Guess that doesn’t apply to “libertarian” organizations.

  3. Nicholas Sarwark

    Sarwark, not Sarwak.

    To answer Mr. Perry’s questions:

    There is no effect of the resolution, other than for 12 members of the LNC to go on record as believing the Judicial Committee to have overstepped its authority and to be wrong.

    1) The Wagner faction is still the affiliate and there is not, to my knowledge, a pending vote to disaffiliate them.

    2) No.

    3) That request was made at the time and he declined to do so.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp


    1) No.

    2) No.

    3) Yes — but if Wrights has a conflict of interest in this matter, four of the 12 people (the parliamentarian who’s trying to get her way in Oregon, the two LNC representatives of the region, and the presidential candidate who continues to run without formally declaring) who voted in the affirmative on the resolution do also.

  5. Nicholas Sarwark

    And technically, the headline is incorrect. The LNC has passed a resolution disagreeing with the Judicial Committee, but have not voted (nor has the power to) overturn the decision of the Judicial Committee.

  6. Jill Pyeatt

    There’s so much the LNC can and should be doing to further the cause of Liberty. This kind of stuff is downright embarrassing. It’s almost as if the party is purposefully being sabotaged; grown-ups just shouldn’t act like this.

    I can’t wait until May to vote out as many of these people as I can, and, of course, I mean the ‘yay’ voters.

  7. George Phillies

    @8, @11 In 2010, delegates had a nearly complete set of choices.

    Manifestly, they took the wrong choices.

    Ask your delegates whether they voted for these people in 2010, or for their opponents.

    If they voted the wrong way, *replace them as delegates*.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp


    That story would fill a book, if anyone found the topic interesting enough to write one.

    The short version is that when a party divided between several factions, with all but one of those factions at least nominally committed to collegiality and rapprochement versus a remaining one committed to all out political war under cover of rhetoric about collegiality and rapprochement, comes into convention, that single faction will outperform the others in internal elections.

  9. Alan Pyeatt

    Was it not an LNC decision to recognize one faction of the LPO rather than the other one? So maybe one of the supporters of this resolution can explain how Item d above does not apply.

    Maybe there’s something I’m missing here, but this resolution sure looks like a tortured way of justifying the LNC in avoiding compliance with a legitimate decision by the Judicial Committee.

  10. Robert Capozzi

    Normally, I would think this is an unnecessary and hollow resolution. However, given the gravity of what’s transpired here, I’d say it was prudent to go on record about this.

    I don’t, however, buy that the JC lacks jurisdiction.

    I questioned whether Wrights was conflicted early on, and as I recall, no one ever engaged the point, including Wrights. (Of course, I am just a rank and file, interested party with no portfolio.) Holtz kind of suggested that Wrights not recuse himself, but I don’t recall a rationale. I would hope the JC would be more careful about such matters. If Wrights was not conflicted, I’d like to understand that conclusion, after the fact would have been fine.

  11. Sane LP member

    @ 18
    Wrights lives with Ruwart in same house.
    Ruwart votes on LNC and Wrights votes on JC.
    End of discussion.
    No conflict of interest I guess.

  12. Jeremy C. Young

    That’s a bit silly, I think. Wrights and Ruwart were living in the same house in 2010 when she was elected to NatComm and he was elected to JudComm. The entire purview of JudComm is to rule on NatComm’s compliance with the bylaws. So you’re arguing that delegates elected Wrights to his position expecting him to recuse himself from every single decision he was called upon to make. It would be much different if their relationship had changed after the vote, but as it is I think Wrights should be able to rule on any decision that doesn’t involve something like a censure of Ruwart.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp

    In any political party, you’re going to have key personnel in relationships — work relationships, friendships, romantic, whatever — with each other.

    After all, people who share an interest or enthusiasm are both more likely to meet each other and more likely to get along well with each other.

    In a small party, the effect is probably magnified for the simple reason that there are fewer people to choose from for key positions.

    If every personal relationship constitutes a conflict of interest for all purposes, the LNC may as well shut down.

    IIRC, Nancy Neale chaired the national convention committee at least once, possibly twice, while her husband Geoff chaired the LNC. And while I may not agreed with every decision that committee made, I think she did a good job. Did her involvement mean Geoff should have recused himself from any involvement in the convention?

  14. Robert Capozzi

    tk, no. That was not a contentious, “legal” matter. The convention committee is a committee OF the LNC, yes, not a superior (in certain matters) committee to the LNC.

    Actually, my bigger conflict issue for Wrights was his candidacy.

    My flash take is that if he simply lives under the same roof as a member of the LNC and EC, that’s not necessarily a conflict. If his partner is on the LNC and EC, I’d say that IS a conflict.

  15. Thomas L. Knapp


    “That was not a contentious, ‘legal’ matter.”

    Actually it was, several times, when party members questioned convention committee decisions regarding venue, speakers, etc. and the committee chair’s husband, the LNC chair, upheld said decisions. I don’t recall anyone saying, at that time “conflict of interest — Geoff’s just ruling that way because he’s married to Nancy.”

    You seem to think that I’m defending Wrights or saying that his decision not to resign the Judicial Committee when he became a candidate for president was correct.

    I’m doing no such thing.

    In fact, were I still in the party, I’d prefer that presidential candidates not serve on the LNC, or on the Judicial Committee, or on any committee that might have a significant impact on party decisions that affect the presidential nomination (that would include any candidate who runs around calling himself “the leading contender for the Libertarian Party’s 2012 presidential nomination” while simultaneously claiming not to be a candidate).

    My flash take on the SPECIFIC issue at hand is that the matter in question was not personal to Ruwart, and that Wrights on the Judicial Committee taking the same position as she did on the LNC/EC was not obviously a function of their relationship, whatever that relationship might be.

    The “candidate” objection to Wrights’s involvement in the ruling may make sense, if you believe that the Oregon affair is, beneath the details, a fight to decide the composition of the LPO’s 2012 convention delegation. But if that’s the case, Wrights is not the only person who should have been recusing himself.

  16. Robert Capozzi

    23 tk, I said contentious, LEGAL matter. The JC is an arbiter. But, even if it was a closer precedent, maintaining poor precedent is a bad idea. Maybe Neale AND Wrights should’ve recused themselves…

  17. Jakob Mills

    For someone who claims to no longer be a member of the LP or involved in traditional politics, Knapp sure has an opinion on everything LP related.

    Sorry, I just find that a tad annoying.

  18. libertariangirl

    its as gay as the discipline of keaton was… if you dont like a decision just freakin tell the person to their face or write a mean FB post..lol…a resolution guys? really?

  19. Jose C

    @8, @11 In 2010, delegates had a nearly complete set of choices.

    Manifestly, they took the wrong choices.

    Ask your delegates whether they voted for these people in 2010, or for their opponents.

    If they voted the wrong way, *replace them as delegates*.

    I agree with this. But we have to face the facts. The delegates did want to vote for you or those we supported. And so know we have this . . . We have many problems in this country and the National Committee screws around wasting their time on motions such as this. We have a party that has a long way to go for us to have success and the National Committee screws around wasting their time on motions such as this.

    The presidential election of 1980 and its success is a long time ago and yet with all our failures we waste time on issues such as this. I agree we need to make many changes. I will be at the 2012 convention to do my part.

  20. Daniel Wiener

    Thomas Knapp@23:

    “My flash take on the SPECIFIC issue at hand is that the matter in question was not personal to Ruwart, and that Wrights on the Judicial Committee taking the same position as she did on the LNC/EC was not obviously a function of their relationship, whatever that relationship might be.”

    Tom, unfortunately it was more than just Ruwart on the LNC and Wrights on the JC happening to take the same position. Mary Ruwart submitted a written argument to the JC in support of the Wagner faction in Oregon, and then she was a prominent proponent of the Wagner faction in oral arguments and Q&A during the Judicial Committee’s hearing.

    Without getting into the nature of Ruwart’s and Wright’s relationship, let’s just take the most benign analogy: If a lawyer who shared the same home address as a judge was one of the principal attorneys arguing a high-profile case in front of that judge, could there be any doubt that the judge would have a conflict of interest (or at the very least the appearance of a conflict of interest) and need to recuse himself?

  21. Thomas L. Knapp


    “Mary Ruwart submitted a written argument to the JC in support of requiring the LNC/EC to follow the bylaws instead of just doing whatever the hell it wants, and then she was a prominent proponent of requiring the LNC/EC to follow the bylaws instead of just doing whatever the hell it wants in oral arguments and Q&A during the Judicial Committee’s hearing.”

    There, fixed that for ya.

    But, point taken.

  22. Michael H. Wilson

    re Daniel Wiener at 29 let me tell you about the time I had someone write a complaint against another person and then sit as one of the members of the Judicial Committee hearing the complaint he, himself, wrote. When I asked him to recuse himself he said he could be objective.

    People who know nothing of the history of the LPO should stay out of that rat’s nest and let them work their own problems out.

    National can provide some ideas and make suggestions and it should be doing that so that all the states and state members are treated the same.

    Print a regular column in the LP News about how to run a meeting, how not to abuse RRONR, how to treat people with respect, how to do the dozen or so things it takes to run a local or state party.

    Set up a contest for the state parties competing in growth and membership retention and reward the best at the national convention with a large sum of money. $10,000 for first prize!

  23. Pingback: LP Nat Com Rejects JC Decision re Oregon | ThirdPartyPolitics.us

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