George Phillies’ “Liberty for America” Discusses LP Convention Floor Fees, Posts Brief Written by Chuck Moulton

This article was posted to the May/June edition of Liberty for America, which is written and published by George Phillies.

Background from George Phillies (p. 6):

Floor Fees

Contrary to all precedent in living memory, National Convention Director Ruth Bennett imposed a poll tax, floor fees, on delegates who wanted the privilege of voting at our National Convention. That’s right, an extra $94 was charged on the people who had already laid out to travel to Las Vegas, eat away rather than at home, and sleep in a resort hotel.

After some discussion, Brad Ploeger organized a petitioning effort to take the question to the National Party Judicial Committee. Bennett had imposed additional conditions, beyond those in the Party Bylaws, on being a voting delegate. The simple and direct analogy with our Federal Constitution, which prevents states from imposing additional requirements on candidates for Federal office, indicates that the National Committee and its agents can do no such thing.

Ploeger, counting signatures not yet submitted, managed to obtain the signatures both of 10% of the registered delegates at the 2010 convention, and also the signatures of 1% of all Sustaining members of our party. There have been few Judicial Committee appeals in party history, and none have ever followed the signature route to gaining the Committee’s attention.

An extended series of briefs on floor fees were submitted to the Judicial Committee. Attached with the electronic edition of this newspaper is the brilliant analysis and refutation by Chuck Moulton of the Convention Committee’s defense of the charges.

Unfortunately, the Judicial Committee voted 4-3 to sustain the floor fees. Voting to sustain floor fees were Hall, Holtz, Gray and Sullentrup. Voting against floor fees were Latham, Sarwark and Wrights. Gray and Sullentrup are gone from the Judicial Committee. Lee Wrights moved over to be Vice Chair, hopefully to keep the LNC from making bad decisions that result in members dragging its misgoverning body to the Judicial Committee.

Main article, with introduction by George Phillies and a brief by Chuck Moulton (pp. 11-23):

Liberty for America has had supplied to it the following brilliantly-pointed remarks from Chuck Moulton, explaining glaring errors in the Convention Oversight Committee’s defense of its floor fee. We quote from what we were supplied by our source.

Chuck Moulton writes:

I had not planned to write anything to the Judicial Committee. However, I was forwarded some briefs by Brad Ploeger and it makes me shake in anger at how filled with non sequiturs they are.

I realize it is past the deadline for submitting briefs to be considered by the JC. However, I’m going to give my 2 cents and any JC member who wants to read it can do so.
I’ll respond point by point to each brief.

I’ll respond point by point to each brief.

Brief from the Convention Oversight Committee

The Convention Oversight Committee brief presents practically no bylaws arguments and thus seems totally irrelevant to this case. However, it was so filled with egregious errors about policy that I felt compelled to respond to its nonsense.

Convention Oversight Committee brief (p. 1):

This basic principle-that no one has a claim on the Life, Liberty or Property of another-is the basis for our Party and our philosophy. However, the Petitioners seem to have forgotten this basic Principle. They are demanding that others be forced to subsidize their attendance and participation in our Convention. In any dispute involving the interpretation of our Bylaws, we must never contravene our basic Principle: No one may demand the unwilling support of another.

A decision by the Judicial Committee that Delegates are not responsible for their share of the costs of a Convention would put that burden on others who have not agreed to accept it. That violates the fundamental Libertarian Principle. For that reason alone this Petition must be denied.

The subsidization canard is pervasive in this brief. They have the direction of subsidization reversed. The delegates are providing a service to the members by doing the party’s required business. By providing their time and paying for their travel, lodging, etc. any so-called free delegates are subsidizing the membership that did not make it to the convention. What the convention oversight committee wants is for delegates conducting party business to subsidize the wishes of others to have a big party at a fancy hotel with expensive speakers and meals. In fact a convention could be run much more cheaply at a less expensive venue in a less expensive city.

The idea that some misapplied principle about subsidization should trump the bylaws is absurd.

Convention Oversight Committee brief (p. 1):

Few, if any, of the petitioners are aware of the costs involved in running a national convention, and mistakenly believe that the cost per person should be what they might expect for a state convention.

Five individuals signing this brief have experience running nine national conventions, and can tell you from experience that common costs are significant at a national convention. For example, a state convention with 50 people may not require the use of any audio-visual equipment. When you have a convention with over 500 in attendance, it’s mandatory to have big screen monitors and sound systems, otherwise the people in the back half of the room will not be able to see or hear what’s going on. In some years we have spent as much as $40,000 on A/V alone!

The list makes two things abundantly clear:

  • The Convention Oversight Committee has overpaid for many things, and wishes to pawn those expenses off on delegates who merely want to do party business.
  • The Convention Oversight Committee is classifying items as common cost which in fact are not, subsidizing those who want a fancy convention with money from those who wish to conduct party business.

The rest of the brief can be read in pages 11-23 of the May-June 2012 Liberty for America.

Other Judicial Committee briefs can be found on Brian Holtz’s website.

Chuck Moulton is currently Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Virginia.

George Phillies is a long-time Libertarian.  Among many other things, he writes and publishes Liberty for America.

2 thoughts on “George Phillies’ “Liberty for America” Discusses LP Convention Floor Fees, Posts Brief Written by Chuck Moulton

  1. Oranje Mike

    Everyone reading this post should be sure to click the link and read this edition of Phillies’ newsletter. Worthwhile reads about controversy at the convention and attempts to silence the “povertarians”.

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