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Joe Buchman responds to LNC audit controversy

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Dr. Joseph Buchman, a resigned member of the LNC Audit committee (the other members are Aaron Starr and Brett Pojunis) comments on 2012 Libertarian Audit Committee: Out of Control?:

For those questioning why I resigned, while I did so rather impulsively and without prior discussion with Aaron or Brett which I now regret, I did so for two reasons:

1) It was my understanding when I volunteered to be considered for appointment by the non-officer members of the LNC for service on the audit committee that my duties would be confined to:

A) researching and vetting various auditing firms,

B) contracting with an auditing firm and

C) assisting the LNC in answering any questions they might have about the results of that audit.

As part of that process I also visited, in-person, members of the Auditing Firm in their offices outside Washington DC, was present for the first, and last days of the five-days of fieldwork for the audit itself and have met in-person with both Aaron in Los Angeles and Brett in Las Vegas to discuss this audit.

IMO we completed the roles explicated above in full in late June 2013. However in July it seemed to me we had been commissioned to, in effect, conduct a second more detailed review of the financial records of the Libertarian Party. I felt this was a role more suited to the Chair or Treasurer and wrote at the time:


From: Joseph Buchman
Date: Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 2:41 PM
Subject: Re: Related Party Transactions
To: Aaron Starr
Cc: Robert Kraus, Jackie, Kelly, Brett, Geoffrey Neale, Tim Hagan

Hello everyone,

I am concerned that we may be overstepping the authority and proper function of the Audit Committee at this point.

IMO it was fine of Aaron, as our chair, to ask for the materials from Robert as part of our commission to assist the LNC in correctly interpreting the results of the audit.

However, that should not, again, in my opinion only, be, in effect, the result of a second audit by the three of us.

So, to the degree requests from us do not require significant additional work by LP staff, or incur additional costs from the auditors themselves, I would like to see them supported.

Once either of those thresholds has been reached, however, I think we should be cognizant of the boundaries the bylaws establish for the committee.

At this point there is, again IMO, sufficient evidence to report to the LNC as a whole concerns about some remunerations and contracts, and then having raised those concerns to consider our role fulfilled, and our authority more or less exhausted as it relates to the Audit Oversight committee.

It also seems to me that there are issues here which might be best addressed, not only by the LNC as a whole, but also in convention next year.

In short, I deeply respect and am personally aligned with Chair Starr’s desire for transparency here, I support his requests for information but do not believe we have the authority to demand the same.

If I’ve misunderstood that boundary/role, please let me know.

All the best,

Joseph G. Buchman, PhD, MBA (finance),


(Note: Jackie and Kelly in the CC field above are members of the auditing firm. Kelly did the fieldwork, Jackie is her supervisor.)

Nonetheless Chair Neale instructed LP Office staff to provide the detailed records to the members of the Audit Committee that had been requested by Chair Starr.

I supported Geoff in that; I believe it was out of his desire to clean things up/not have anything hidden, but in retrospect what I now think should have happened is that the Audit Committee should have finished its report in July and gone into hibernation until the 2013 Audit (we’re appointed for two year terms), and the LNC through its Treasurer or Chair completed that financial investigation, utilizing other outside experts, like Mr. Starr if desired, rather than tasking this to the committee. There was sufficient information at the time, IMO, for appropriate management notes to go into the final Auditor’s Report, as well as sufficient Red Flags for further investigation.

At the time (early July 2013) however, I was okay with being commissioned to do this work, especially with Aaron doing the bulk of it, and doing it extremely well. The guy is competent, motivated, dedicated and seemingly tireless.

I’m not. Frankly I’m rather lazy. So I felt like this was a ton more work than I’d signed up for, especially as the Platform Committee was soon to have its last members appointed and I am (or was) concurrently serving as its chair and apparently have a somewhat more limited amount of time to devote to things Libertarian than Mr. Starr!

2) My second reason for resigning was the result of an October 15th phone call from Chair Neale which was highly critical of the Audit Oversight Committee and our (seeming) failure to end the process of the 2012 audit. I’m not inclined to share the details of that phone call here, but it left me feeling rather . . . let’s just say unappreciated.

(At about the same time I started getting calls from a collection agency threatening litigation against me personally for unpaid debts of the Gary Johnson 2012 campaign (in this case an unpaid Twitter Account) in which I’d had zero involvement (perhaps they had confused me with another Joe who had worked on the campaign) . This wasn’t the first time I’d received such demands for payment on my home phone, and I reached a point of feeling I’d about “had it” with all things (BIG L) Libertarian, or at least financial ones.)

So I offered my resignation in an email to Geoff Neale. In retrospect I should have offered that to the chair of the Audit Committee, and not the chair of the LNC. Nonetheless Geoff accepted it. We’ve had a good conversation since then, and I’m happy to be focused on my work as interim chair of the 2014 Platform Committee rather trying to simultaneously serve on an Audit Committee that (in effect, from my perspective) now seems to be attempting to conduct a second more detailed audit and/or fulfill the role of the Treasurer, the external Auditors, the LNC itself, or some combination of the above.

To answer the question I offer in the title of [the original] post, despite my resignation, NO. NO, I do not believe the Audit Committee is out of control (at least not as of the time I resigned). I do believe we were tasked with work that is at best at the very outside edges of our original boundaries.

I believe we did a good-faith effort to fulfill on those tasks, and to bring these issues to light. (I cannot however speak knowingly to issues involved after the following report was submitted and my subsequent resignation accepted.)



Joe also commented in response to Wes Benedict:

I miss being on the Audit Oversight Committee as well. What I don’t miss is being on a committee tasked with reviewing all the emails between Carla and Cloud or having to deal with the mess created when basic policies and accounting processes aren’t followed.

Somewhere there’s a disconnect there.

It’s unfair, IMO, to lay that all on Aaron or to personalize this as you and others have done. Nor would it be fair of Aaron or others to tweak the audit, or extend the Audit Committee’s work for political purposes.

IMO it was fine of the Audit Committee Chair to ask for detailed records, Brett surely had the authority as an LNC member to ask for them regardless; but what was missing was some clear boundary for our work, or the implementation of that.

I admire your defense of your staff; I did not know until today that you had not been given a copy of the Audit Committee’s Second Interim report, your defense and theirs should surely be part of the audit process as well, IMO.

(FYI I did ask to be included in the confidential Audit-discuss listserv created by the LNC, and that request was denied.)

For those curious about my involvement in the UFO issue which you have somehow seen fit to raise here, or for those who may find that remark as disparaging, I’m not at all embarrassed. It’s surely damaged my credibility in Higher Education far more than in Libertarian circles. One of the reasons I was able to be in DC and support the 2012 Audit Fieldwork is that I had just served as the Moderator for the week-long Citizens Hearing on UFO Disclosure with former US Senator Mike Gravel (who identified himself as a Libertarian in those Hearings), former 10-term US Representatives Roscoe Bartlett and Lynn Woolsey, as well as former Representatives Darlene Hooley, Carolyn Kilpatrick and Merrill Cook. If fact I contacted, recruited and contracted with five of those six for their service on that committee.

Witnesses included a former head of the FAA, a moon-walking Apollo astronaut (Dr. Edgar Mitchell (PhD from MIT), a former Canadian Minister of Defense, military officials from 10 nations, a former Congressman from Brazil, Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr . . . My idea, at least, of a group of honest, courageous, heroic folk.

Of course when I ran for the US Congress (Utah’s First District, 2008) and called for legislation to protect whistle blowers; and then open hearings on “waste, fraud, criminal-activity and the UFO issue” I was attacked by the likes of Steve Gordon, who called the chair of the LNC to have me removed as a candidate, among other things.

So Wes, your comment that I apparently have seen things in the Audit that others don’t or haven’t seen is hurtful at best; so let me suggest again that the LP would be best served by taking the issues raised in our Second Interim Report, if not in the Citizen Hearing on UFO Disclosure as well, far more seriously.

The idea that we’re alone in the Universe is about as absurd to me as the idea Mr. Cloud earned his $38,000, or that it costs $20,000 to move to DC from . . . where, Kolob?

(There, I just made IPR a lot less dull, at least for our readers on Kolob.)

http://citizenhearing.org/


See also: LNC passes policy manual changes regarding audit related issues

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5 Comments

  1. paulie paulie November 30, 2013

    Comment bump…

  2. Wes Wagner Wes Wagner November 24, 2013

    FDS

    I concur… when looking at the situation and trying to figure out who the crooks are…

    why not both?

  3. From Der Sidelines From Der Sidelines November 24, 2013

    Sorry, but one has to always question Starr’s motives since he has a long reputation of screwing things up in terms of the LP and its affiliations, and pursuing his own agenda of having his own cliques in control of everything he and those groups do, be it the Audit Committee, the LNC, the LNCC, LSLA, the Oregon mess, LP California, you name it. His dedication has been long shown to his own agenda, whatever it is, and not necessarily to advancing Liberty. That’s why he got tossed off the LNC with 80% of the vote against him in St. Louis, to resounding and almost deafening cheers–people saw him for what he was.

    It is very easy to look at Starr’s reaching as yet another attempt to create the chaos necessary to remove people from their positions and put in his own, or even himself, in pursuit of his agenda.

    In simple terms, he’s toxic.

    That in no way speaks to anything regarding, or exonerates or convicts, any alleged activity of the LP Staff including Cloud and Howell. All I’m saying is the source needs extensive consideration during deliberation.

  4. paulie paulie November 24, 2013

    Nice photo 🙂

    The response to the Audit Committee report was part of your original post. I thought it was a good idea to keep that in an IPR post, just not one posted by you since it contained your opinions (unless of course we get rid of that rule completely). I thought you also provided a valuable counterpoint to Wes B. I don’t want to go overboard by turning everyone’s comments into separate threads, but there may be one or two more people whose input would merit that. Maybe even more. But not yet.

  5. Joseph Buchman Joseph Buchman November 23, 2013

    If Paulie thinks my comments in other threads warrant their own post, I guess I’m okay with it. I did update the photo from the 2008 US Congressional photo (Utah’s First District), taken by Rob Latham, which Paulie first used, to the one above, from my TED talk at the 2013 Burning Man Playa Skool Dome in Black Rock City. Wes said IPR got boring in the year I was away, and I’m trying my best to change that . . .

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