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Texas LP Convention Documents and Contributions Stolen

A letter (reproduced below) from Heather Fazio, membership coordinator of the Libertarian Party of Texas, warns delegates and others who gave contributions or personal information to officials at the convention that their donations have been stolen and their personal information, including credit card numbers, compromised following a break-in of her car.  The break-in apparently occurred in Cedar Park (about 20 miles north of Austin Texas)  two days following the conclusion of the convention — at about 2:00pm on June 12th — but was not reported,  according to the police report, until slightly over 24 hours later on Wednesday June 13th.

The police report can be viewed here:

http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101213715196-127/Police+Report+2012-06-13.pdf

 

 

The link for contributions at the bottom of the above letter can be found here:

http://lptexas.org/node/105

IPR readers with any information which might serve to apprehend the individual(s) responsible are encouraged to contact Sergeant Melissa McGrath of the Austin Police Department at 512 974 5347 or by email at: http://www.austintexas.gov/email/police3 and reference case number 20120577.

About Post Author

Joe Buchman

44 Comments

  1. Jill Pyeatt Jill Pyeatt June 21, 2012

    Can someone please recommend to Heather that she contact her homeowners insurance company (if she has one)? I don’t know Texas insurance laws, but they might be able to help a litte.

  2. Jill Pyeatt Jill Pyeatt June 21, 2012

    Or, if the Texas LP has a business insurance policy, they can probably help, also.

  3. Reed Ebarb Reed Ebarb June 21, 2012

    This isn’t her fault I don’t believe. This was a random act and there is no way she could have expected this to happen. I would encourage everyone to be forgiving and understanding. She deserves the benefit of the doubt.

  4. George Phillies George Phillies June 21, 2012

    The money wasn’t deposited, days after the event? And it was left in a car?

  5. NewFederalist NewFederalist June 21, 2012

    I was thinking the same thing, George.

  6. Be Rational Be Rational June 21, 2012

    It is totally irresponsible and negligent to have left donations and important documents unattended in a vehicle of any kind, even for a few minutes. It is even worse when it was on a weekday, two days after the conclusion of the convention.

    By the time of the break-in, the donations should have already been deposited – the previous day – they should have been secured in the meantime, and the documents should have been removed to a secure location.

  7. Richie Richie June 21, 2012

    “A Robert Milnes was spotted nearby, acting suspiciously with a coat hanger and a duffel bag.”

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

  8. paulie paulie June 21, 2012

    Jill,

    Heather’s number is in her letter above.

  9. Jill Pyeatt Jill Pyeatt June 21, 2012

    Thanks, Paulie. I’ll call her now.

  10. Steve M Steve M June 21, 2012

    i was thinking that too….. leaving a purse in a car over night with a couple of grand in cash in it that doesn’t belong to the owner of the purse. She better take responsibility (pull that money out of her savings) for those cash donations!

  11. Trent Hill Trent Hill June 22, 2012

    Tough crowd.

    The lady was burglarized. Obviously she knows this was a bad idea–now. I’m betting insurance will cover this.

  12. Jill Pyeatt Jill Pyeatt June 22, 2012

    Well, California has a cash limit of $200, but I don’t know about Texas. They might be able to help with some of the other stuff. It’s at least worth a phone call.

  13. NewFederalist NewFederalist June 22, 2012

    “Tough crowd.

    The lady was burglarized. Obviously she knows this was a bad idea–now.”

    I’m sure. But whether stupid or careless as a libertarian I would think she would take responsibility.

  14. Ad Hoc Ad Hoc June 22, 2012

    She did take responsibility and apologize in the letter above, I’m sure it was not easy to do.

  15. LibertarianGirl LibertarianGirl June 22, 2012

    Im gonna fall on the side of what she did is inexcusable …..the money should have been deposited right away but if it wasnt who freakin leave 2 grand in the car unattended . For christs sake , was it in a damn cash bag even? she’s responsible , period , and if insurance doesnt cover it , she should replace it

  16. Sanity Sanity June 22, 2012

    If the Democrat or Repulican parties let this happen it would be MAJOR news. Oh, but they wouldn’t let that happen. And if they did they would something MAJOR about it. Maybe that is why they are the MAJOR parties. They take their business seriously instead of simply being a bunch of part timer malcontents dabbling around in politics.

  17. NewFederalist NewFederalist June 22, 2012

    @15…exactly. I am sure she is a lovely person who is good to her mother and makes her own clothes BUT she sure acted like a class A airhead in taking care of the party’s funds AND safeguarding contibutor’s identities and personal financial info. Not only should she feel bad she should be held accountable. If that makes me a BADASS then I can live with that.

  18. Victor Lazlo Victor Lazlo June 22, 2012

    This does not look good. Leaving $2,000 cash in a car for 2 days, plus credit card info, etc. (the entire proceeds of a convention???), then waiting 24 hours to make a police report??? When did she tell her employer? And what’s up with the gold/silver buillion? There are serious questions here. In any event, she should repay the value of the goods she negligently lost.

  19. paulie paulie June 22, 2012

    If the Democrat or Repulican parties let this happen it would be MAJOR news.

    Believe it or not, this and worse happens in those parties.

  20. paulie paulie June 22, 2012

    I’m sure the donors, state chair and/or state committee and Heather can figure something out. Why is everyone so eager to dump on someone going through a big problem? Yes, she screwed up, and she is acknowledging that. I’m sure many people here (myself included) have screwed up before. Let the people most directly involved figure out just how severe the consequences should be.

    On the other side of the ledger is that she has a job which a lot of people do not want, and which is hard to fill with people who can get the work done and are willing to put up with the pay and (lack of) job security. She probably had personal money stolen as well and it may not be easy for her to replace the money that was stolen, but then again maybe some of it may be recovered, insured, or maybe some of the donors whose money was taken will be more forgiving than people on the comment section.

  21. LP observer LP observer June 22, 2012

    If I did that in my real job, it is called termination. No excuses. It is a business not some game of of monopoly.

  22. paulie paulie June 22, 2012

    LP Observer,

    Your real job may have a lot more people willing and able to do it – and seek it – than Heather’s job.

    While that is a choice that her employer may or may not make, I suggest you should leave that up to her employer to figure out.

    She may not be that easy to replace.

  23. Victor Lazlo Victor Lazlo June 23, 2012

    @ 20 “I’m sure many people here (myself included) have screwed up before.”
    Never, ever, ever have I or anyone that I know “screwed up” like that. There is a word — several words, in fact — for people that do that sort of thing. The kindest is “unemployed.” To leave that much money in a purse in a car is almost pathological.
    And I still want to know about the gold/silver mentioned in the police report.

  24. Victor Lazlo Victor Lazlo June 23, 2012

    @ 22 ”Your real job may have a lot more people willing and able to do it – and seek it – than Heather’s job . . . .She may not be that easy to replace.”

    Wow. Just wow. No one is irreplaceable.

    What is so hard about being a Membership Co-ordinator? I am sure that MANY people are ready, willing. and able to do it. If it is such a demanding job, then obviously it is not the job for someone who could/would do this.

    As far as not being able to pay back the money, part of deciding who can be entrusted with something this valuable is who can afford to make good their serious lapses.

  25. Bill Wood Bill Wood June 23, 2012

    Funny we talk about this at work all the time. We always put more blame on the victim than on the thief.

    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Private Pyle, if there is one thing in this world that I hate, it is an unlocked footlocker! You know that don’t you?
    Private Gomer Pyle: Sir, yes, sir.
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: If it wasn’t for dickheads like you, there wouldn’t be any thievery in this world, would there?

  26. Paulie Paulie June 23, 2012

    To leave that much money in a purse in a car is almost pathological.

    I’ve had that much or more money in my wallet many times. So have other people I have known.

    And I still want to know about the gold/silver mentioned in the police report.

    It may have been donor contributions – some LP members prefer it to cash and credit cards. It may have been her personal money, or some of both.

    What is so hard about being a Membership Co-ordinator? I am sure that MANY people are ready, willing. and able to do it.

    Last I heard she was the only remaining employee of the Texas LP. The job title may not have been updated to reflect that. Everyone else working for them had quit or been let go due to lack of funds.

    From what I know of these kinds of jobs, they require long hours, lots of specific knowledge, pay little, and rely on shaky fundraising for pay thus don’t have a lot of job security. They also come with a lot of abuse from party members and others who expect the person at the office to set policy (usually not the case), have the party reflect their exact views, do various things for which there is no money or volunteers, and so on.

    So no, there’s not a ton of people lining up to do this kind of work, and of the ones willing to do it, it’s hard to predict who will be able to handle it.

    Given the particulars involved, I would again say that the people who know the exact particulars of the situation should be the ones making the decision about exactly what the consequences should be.

    As far as not being able to pay back the money, part of deciding who can be entrusted with something this valuable is who can afford to make good their serious lapses.

    I have no idea whether she can afford to pay it back. She probably does not have a lot of money unless she inherited some or her husband makes a lot or something, or maybe she has savings from a previous job. My guess would be that she doesn’t make very much, although I’m not going to ask.

    You seem to be under the impression that people are lining up for these jobs, and state parties can pick and choose from among excellent candidates at any time. This is rarely (if ever) the case.

    If someone lost that much of my money I would obviously be very unhappy. What I would do about it would depend on the exact circumstances, which people not directly involved with the situation can only guess at (usually incorrectly). I’ve been in businesses where the consequences were much worse than becoming unemployed (use your imagination). Not that I’m suggesting anything like that here.

  27. NewFederalist NewFederalist June 23, 2012

    “Thank you in advance for your understanding, I am doing my best to recover from this loss.”

    I don’t mean to keep piling on but… the above statement spoke volumes to me! Just who is this about anyway?

  28. Victor Lazlo Victor Lazlo June 23, 2012

    @27 Yes, that does connote a high degree of self-absoption. And I think that I would have left off the plea for contributions.

  29. Aaron Starr Aaron Starr June 23, 2012

    There are some things here that I don’t understand because Ms. Fazio’s letter seems inconsistent with the press release report from the police department.

    Ms. Fazio’s letter states that the burglary took place in the driveway of her home. The police press release report (it’s not the actual police report) does state that the crime took place at 3308 Harpers Ferry Lane, Austin, TX 78745, a residence according to Google maps, but it also notes that Ms. Fazio lives in Cedar Park, TX 78613, which is about 27 miles away.

    Perhaps Ms. Fazio maintains two separate residences?

    Ms. Fazio’s letter states there is a good lead because of the perpetrator’s unauthorized use of her credit card. The police press release report does make reference to “credit card abuse – other”. But the accompanying undated letter (evidently faxed on Monday, June 18) from the police department states: “You reported a burglary of a vehicle to the Austin Police Department. At this time there are no investigative leads. Your case is closed.”

    Why would the case be closed if a good lead exists?

  30. Aaron Starr Aaron Starr June 23, 2012

    Other observations and inquiries:

    The LP Texas office is located at 1904 Guadalupe St., Ste. B, Austin, TX 78705, which is 10 miles from where the crime is reported to have taken place. The office is between Ms. Fazio’s Cedar Park home and the crime scene, so it seems unlikely that she en route from her home to the LP office (or from the LP office to her home) at the time.

    Does anyone know whether Ms. Fazio works full time at the LP office? The crime is reported to have taken place at 2:00 pm on a Tuesday – during the middle of a typical workday – at a residence other than Ms. Fazio’s home according to the police press release report.

    The police press release report mentions a burglary, but no mention of damage to the vehicle, so one might wonder if the vehicle was unlocked.

    How common is it for a woman to leave her purse with $2,000 cash in an unlocked car in someone else’s driveway in the middle of a weekday afternoon?

    Is the actual police report being made available, rather than just the press release report distributed to the media?

    Viewing the actual police report might clear up some misunderstandings.

  31. Joe Buchman Joe Buchman June 23, 2012

    Aaron,

    “Perhaps Ms. Fazio maintains two separate residences?”

    Good question, and good job being a critical reader of what was posted. I failed to do that prior to posting the original summary above.

    Good work!

    Joe

  32. Paulie Paulie June 23, 2012

    Does someone feel like giving Heather a call and asking her? I don’t want to badger her but those are good questions.

  33. Jill Pyeatt Jill Pyeatt June 23, 2012

    I’m also curious about if insurance helped. An update would be nice, but I don’t know her well enough to ask her.

  34. Aaron Starr Aaron Starr June 23, 2012

    I don’t know her at all, so I can’t imagine my calling her.

    There is a lot of money at stake here, so I’m hoping that the people directly impacted in Texas will further probe the situation, ask the right questions and achieve clarity as to the circumstances surrounding this incident.

  35. NewFederalist NewFederalist June 23, 2012

    “I don’t know her at all, so I can’t imagine my calling her. ”

    Well, perhaps a text message then. 😉

  36. Victor Lazlo Victor Lazlo June 24, 2012

    @ 26
    Me: “To leave that much money in a purse in a car is almost pathological.”

    Paulie: “I’ve had that much or more money in my wallet many times. So have other people I have known.”

    Me: Was it other people’s money? Did you leave it unattended in a car?

    Paulie: “Last I heard she was the only remaining employee of the Texas LP. The job title may not have been updated to reflect that. Everyone else working for them had quit or been let go due to lack of funds.”

    Me: Well, this will certainly make a bad situation much, much worse.

  37. paulie paulie June 24, 2012

    Was it other people’s money?

    In some cases it was payroll money for people who worked for me for cash or money that I owed to someone or several people for debts.

    Did you leave it unattended in a car?

    That has probably happened at some point.

    Well, this will certainly make a bad situation much, much worse.

    No doubt.

    Just how much worse seems to be to be something that people dealing with the situation directly can decide about best, along with what to do about it.

  38. zapper zapper June 24, 2012

    We should all have some sympathy for Heather at this point. She and the donors and the TX LP are victims of a thief after all.

    Sure, she made a foolish decision to leave money and sensitive documents unattended in a car – locked or unlocked. She should volunteer to make good on any uninsured losses.

    She may have to work at a reduced wage for the LP for a time or pick up a part time job to compensate for the losses. It will be hard for her, but no one has claimed that she doesn’t feel remorse about her mistake or that she is attempting to duck her responsibility.

  39. Mark Axinn Mark Axinn June 24, 2012

    I am Chair in a state without paid employees.

    This year, I ran two highly successful conventions (Manhattan LP and LPNY), each with about 80 attendees. We set up a PayPal link which most people used, and also provided a snail mail address for those who preferred to pay by check. By charging $10 more at the door, we guaranteed that most attendees had pre-paid.

    But of course we took in some cash at the door, which was perfect for tips for the restaurant staff. The rest I deposited on the Monday morning after the convention in the local party’s bank account.

    What’s so damn hard about that? Remember, I am a volunteer. For a paid employee to piss away donors’ money is inexcusable.

    If I lost eight cents or eight thousand dollars, I would sure as hell make good on it THE NEXT DAY.

    In my real job, I sometimes handle escrow deposits in the millions of dollars. Imagine if I left them in my car (actually I don’t have a car, but pretend) for a couple of days. Loss of employment would only be the beginning.

  40. Victor Lazlo Victor Lazlo June 25, 2012

    @ 40 “If I lost eight cents or eight thousand dollars, I would sure as hell make good on it THE NEXT DAY.”

    Exactly! And if you are not good for eight thousand dollars, or two thousand dollars, then do not accept the responsiblity as custodian or trustee for that amount of money.

  41. Ray Pistone Ray Pistone June 25, 2012

    So Mark Axinn should not be allowed to be a custodian for “escrow deposits in the millions of dollars” unless he is good for millions of dollars in case, say, he gets robbed at gunpoint and the robbers figure out a way to get the money cashed (unlikely with those amounts…but work with me here)?

  42. Daniel Wiener Daniel Wiener June 26, 2012

    Ray @ 42:
    Mark Axinn doesn’t have to be good for “escrow deposits in the millions of dollars” because those are presumably held in a bank account, not his (theoretical) car. If he actually did transport that amount of cash in his car, instead of using a bonded and insured armored transport service, then he should indeed be responsible.

    Like several others, I am bothered by the multiple stupidities and the inconsistencies involved in this reported theft, and I am hesitant to take any statements at face value. Are people being too harsh towards Heather Fazio? That can be better judged when more facts are available, and also depending upon whether the Libertarian Party of Texas is made whole.

    However, I can’t agree with Ad Hoc @ 14 when he said that “She did take responsibility and apologize in the letter above, I’m sure it was not easy to do.” Admitting you screwed up and apologizing for it is fine as far as it goes, but that in itself does not constitute “taking responsibility”. Taking responsibility requires actions to rectify the situation, not just words.

  43. paulie paulie June 26, 2012

    I can agree with Mr. Wiener, the facts are not all yet in and let’s not jump to conclusions prematurely. When I get a chance, if no one else does so first, I’ll ask Heather whether she wants to comment on any of the questions raised in this discussion.

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