BEST Coalition is Formed to Propose Priorities for Libertarian National Committee

A new website has appeared advertised on Facebook, which proposes 5 priorities for the upcoming term of the Libertarian National Committee. The Libertarian Party’s national convention, Character Matters, is planned for June 26 to 29, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio.

BEST - Building Essential Structure Together - BEST - Building Essential Structure Together

The BEST Coalition

BEST – Building Essential Structure Together – is a coalition of Libertarian Party members who believe the National Party should focus on certain core priorities, revolving around infrastructure.

The BEST Coalition formed when several state party leaders were speaking to one another about the immediate needs and goals of the Libertarian Party. With National Libertarian Party leadership up for election at the LP National convention in late June, it seemed to be the opportune time to form a coalition to ask that our next party leaders focus on completing several core tasks; tasks can be achieved in the next two years. We believe that the five items listed as the goals of the BEST Coalition will be widely accepted, and when achieved would provide a springboard for the accelerated growth the Libertarian Party.

We hope that you’ll look at our platform, and sign on to the BEST Coalition.

Here is the website. It is unknown at this time who put up the website, or if it will be tied into a slate of candidates running to be on the Libertarian National Committee, who will be voted on at the convention. I will keep this article updated.

90 thoughts on “BEST Coalition is Formed to Propose Priorities for Libertarian National Committee

  1. George Phillies

    The position on ballot access information is excellent. One might wonder which interpretation of “ballot access’ the BEST authors had in mind.

    With respect to 1, something more concrete might be clearer.

    With respect to 5, political fundraising is very much not the same as non-profit fundraising. You could hire away Democrats or Republicans, perhaps, but you might not like the consequences.

  2. David Colborne

    My personal understanding of 1, which is admittedly third-hand (or so), is that there were some issues coordinating LP office activities with Gary Johnson’s campaign, which ultimately forced GJ to maintain a parallel campaign infrastructure separate from the LP proper. I’m fuzzy on the details, though.

  3. Steven Wilson

    For 1.

    I am not sure, but the LNC doesn’t have total control over who would win the election process at the convention. So, it would seem unlibertarian to “force” the LNC to give a full throat support mechanism behind someone that they don’t believe in.

    This also brings up the carpet bagger syndrome that takes place. How exactly, without any standards as I have seen, will the LNC term each person if they become libertarian? You would need a litmus test I think.

    4.

    The Brand equity of the LP couldn’t be orchestrated from the LNC. There are too many state party issues for one single voice to drown out the others. Media contacts are one thing, but getting action items through producers and editors is a completely different animal.

    I have worked with clients where I had wine and dine those behind the curtain as to guarantee the right light is shone on the client during the news or to get that super exclusive interview. You can’t use leverage in the media until you have something they can use to promote themselves.

    5.

    Fundraising would go better if the LNC would get transparent. It would also help if they kept their promises. I joke about the office closet all the time, but it isn’t funny. What happened to the fund is a prime example of amateur hour. It also tainted this LNC.

    You are not going to get donors if you tell them one thing and then do another. It doesn’t matter why you changed your mind, but it does matter that you changed it in the first place.

    Brand equity is a long term phenomena. One campaign won’t do it.

  4. Nicholas Sarwark

    I am not sure, but the LNC doesn’t have total control over who would win the election process at the convention. So, it would seem unlibertarian to “force” the LNC to give a full throat support mechanism behind someone that they don’t believe in.

    This also brings up the carpet bagger syndrome that takes place. How exactly, without any standards as I have seen, will the LNC term each person if they become libertarian? You would need a litmus test I think.

    The choice of Presidential candidate rests solely with the delegates. It is not the place of the LNC or any members of the LNC to decide whether the candidate is Libertarian enough to get full support.

    The fiduciary duty of the LNC is to support the nominee. If the nominee is so far off the reservation that it is warranted, the LNC can strip the candidate of his/her nomination. There is no in-between option for anyone serving on the LNC.

  5. David Colborne

    Also agreed with Nick. If the LP wanted the LNC empowered to choose who to support and how much support to provide in a Presidential election, we wouldn’t have the conventions make the decision for the LNC.

    #3 was the brand awareness one (#4 was IT) – I think the idea is to make sure that the number of people responsible for communication on behalf of the national LP is limited and responsible. Obviously the state parties would still remain responsible for communicating their own messages.

    The IT infrastructure one is a curious issue. I know from previous experience that the accuracy of National’s data dumps to states is somewhere between “abysmal” and “criminally negligent”. I’ve heard more than a few stories of state or local affiliates putting National dumps into Mailchimp and then promptly getting their accounts suspended due to excessive rejections or drops; personally, having mailed against the list a couple of times, I’ve found the return post rate to be somewhere in the 33-45% range. Anything that helps improve on that would be a wonderful thing.

  6. Been There, Done That

    I would like the 2 candidates to address each of the 5 priorities: in how you would see them implemented, the qualities of staff/help to accomplish them and what examples of leadership will you provide to move the party to the national stage.

  7. Chuck Moulton

    If you look at the details (“professional”, “professional”, “professional”), these priorities seem like more of what we’ve been hearing for years: raise a boatload of money, hire a boatload of professionals… a top-down central plan for liberty.

    I disagree.

    For years the LP ignored the fact that we’re a party of volunteers. Finally Arvin Vohra is harnessing our best resource by organizing them into action-oriented groups on Facebook based on expertise and interest, then giving them concrete tasks to execute. That’s the future, playing to our strengths.

  8. George Phillies

    There needs to be some serious improvement in the precision of the Presidential campaign support proposal. The LNC can give the Presidential campaign money, but not very much. It can coordinate certain things with the Presidential campaign, up to certain financial limits set by Federal law.

    The LNC should not, however, be doing the part of the work of the Presidential campaign, namely to show up well before the National Convention with a sound campaign organization. The last three times, we nominated (i) a candidate whose campaign organization was his driver, (ii) a candidate who jumped into the race a month in advance, and (iii) a candidate whose campaign, in his previous party, which he had jumped four months prior, had by the standards of that party been ineffective. If there is no organization by convention time, it is pretty much too late.

    To the credit of the people around him, candidate (i) ended up with a sound fundraising operation, a successful media operation, and an actual volunteer effort.

    The immediately notable feature of the IT people database is the column headings, which can only be understood with a set of notes. (They are good notes). The second feature is the column order, which is remarkable. The more obscure feature is that every month out goes the list of people who never want to hear from us again, are dead, etc. The email address list was cleaned up by Wes Benedict.

    With respect to the Colborne remark above, it is hard to understand how someone could run for President and not know that he needed a campaign organization (though lack of one would explain his total failure as a Republican candidate).

  9. George Phillies

    With respect to (5) let me emphasize my prior comment. People who have done non-political fundraising are mostly worthless for political fundraising, because the core issues are completely different. Fundraisers from other parties cannot be trusted. Chuck Moulton has it right; we are a volunteer organization, and should play to our strengths not our weaknesses.

  10. Chuck Moulton

    1. The LNC and staff must fully support the Presidential campaign

    This is somewhat complicated due to FEC issues.

    2. The LNC will implement a more balanced approach to ballot access.

    Some states can (and do) handle their own ballot access just fine. This shouldn’t necessarily be centralized, but best practices should be shared.

    A lot of the people who argue for a “balanced approach” want to focus on lobbying and litigation to improve ballot access INSTEAD OF petitioning in the harder states. Often they are willing to forgo ballot access if lobbying and litigation doesn’t work and/or they want to reallocate the resources currently spent on very hard states to other projects.

    In my opinion we should be doing all three simultaneously: lobbying, litigation, and ballot access. We should form teams of volunteers tasked with each (e.g., utilizing the many attorneys who are LP members). But I would not jettison ballot access in Illinois or Pennsylvania or New York if lobbying and litigation aren’t successful. We need our presidential candidate on 49 states (ideally 50 if we can tame Oklahoma).

    3. The LNC will increase our presence and brand awareness in national politics.

    What we need is to dominate social media with our volunteer army, not to hire a professional to centrally plan talking points.

    4. The LNC will update and maintain a modernized IT infrastructure.

    The LP should absolutely utilize technology better. We need the sorts of systems the Obama campaign used to identify potential libertarians, get them excited about the LP, and maximize their volunteer involvement and donations — all using micro-targeting and analytics.

    Again, we CAN’T afford to pay for these shiny new gizmos even with 5x our current budget; however, we CAN get our army of volunteer geeks/programmers/techies to build it for us.

    5. The LNC will seek out professional fundraisers to raise significantly more funds.

    That would be great, but it’s a pipe dream. Repeatedly the national LP, state affiliates, and LP campaigns have put themselves on a vicious cycle of hiring high priced fundraisers who raise little more than their own salary, then used the scant extra money to pay for even more fundraisers and infrastructure. At the end of the day 95% of the money was burned on overhead with little actual politics to show for it — which understandably often pisses off donors.

    The LP needs to budget realistically. If we set a budget as if we’ll have revenues of X, then end up having revenues of X/2, the spending cuts are always the actual politics. The higher revenue projections are, the more likely they will fall short, and the more actual politics will get the shaft. So when I hear “professional fundraisers to raise significantly more funds” I cringe… while in theory that sounds nice, in practice it will lead to spending 100% of funds raised on overhead with a few “professionals” lining their pockets.

    The LP needs a million dollar budget that includes significant actual politics. If we raise more money, wonderful… then we can do even more politics. Don’t set a $2 million or $5 million budget that defaults to 100% overhead when we fall short of revenue goals.

  11. David Colborne

    Chuck:

    If you look at the details (“professional”, “professional”, “professional”), these priorities seem like more of what we’ve been hearing for years: raise a boatload of money, hire a boatload of professionals… a top-down central plan for liberty.

    Not necessarily. Volunteers can act and be organized professionally as well – in fact, at least in my experience here in Nevada, they work much better when there’s some clear direction and organization in place that can give them something to do. Naturally, those volunteers that would rather assume leadership positions and go their own way are certainly free to do so, and it usually doesn’t take them much encouragement to organize some volunteers themselves to help them out.

    For years the LP ignored the fact that we’re a party of volunteers. Finally Arvin Vohra is harnessing our best resource by organizing them into action-oriented groups on Facebook based on expertise and interest, then giving them concrete tasks to execute.

    Which is a good start, though this is the first I’ve heard of his groups personally. This raises a good point – if national spent less effort sending out expensively written and poorly worded fundraising letters and more effort asking for volunteers to help out with that sort of thing, we not only wouldn’t need as much money to be effective, we’d also probably raise more money.

    Phillies:

    With respect to the Colborne remark above, it is hard to understand how someone could run for President and not know that he needed a campaign organization (though lack of one would explain his total failure as a Republican candidate).

    GJ already had a campaign team put together owing to his GOP primary run; that was never an issue. Coordination between his team and the LP, however, left quite a bit lacking, so I’ve gathered. It wasn’t just about money, which I’m sure GJ and the LP were both perfectly aware was limited by FEC rules.

    To the credit of the people around him, candidate (i) ended up with a sound fundraising operation, a successful media operation, and an actual volunteer effort.

    Badnarik? He did all right – as I understand it, Reno hosted his most successful fundraiser in a restaurant that our city council ultimately condemned to make room for additional parking at the city-owned convention center. I miss that restaurant, to be honest – it had amazing prime rib.

  12. David Colborne

    Chuck:

    The LP should absolutely utilize technology better. We need the sorts of systems the Obama campaign used to identify potential libertarians, get them excited about the LP, and maximize their volunteer involvement and donations — all using micro-targeting and analytics.

    Again, we CAN’T afford to pay for these shiny new gizmos even with 5x our current budget; however, we CAN get our army of volunteer geeks/programmers/techies to build it for us.

    Speaking as a geek/programmer/techie (okay, sysadmin), building things is (comparably) easy. Keeping it maintained and selling the value of using the system to less technically sophisticated volunteers, however, gets a little trickier. From personal experience, I can think of at least four or five “shiny gizmos” that I’ve seen rolled out only to have them fall by the wayside because nobody else wanted to use them (or, just as often, nobody could be bothered to explain how to use them).

    In Nevada, at least, we’ve learned to avoid the worst of that by using “what gets the job done”, though we do have a few skunkworks projects in the background to improve our outreach tracking. We’ve also had a few false starts along the way (Trello and other similar PM packages didn’t get the buy-in we were looking for, so we shelved them in favor of more informal methods). In the end, it comes down to finding what works, what people are willing to learn and use, and what lets us keep track of what work is being done and by whom across the 7th largest state in the country. Communication and follow-through are key.

  13. Mark Hilgenberg

    I understand the need for a professional fundraiser but I am certain they would pick the low hanging fruit just to keep funds flowing and that fruit is usually conservatarian leaning.

    We need the Beehive solution, thousands of fundraisers out using their particular talents and styles raising funds for the party. This would bring in funds from people and groups we don’t necessarily focus on through our traditional 14 page letter approach.

    Sure, there would be rules but I feel this would be a great strategy.

  14. George Phillies

    The most important Obama donation was the $3.00 donation. If you do not understand why, well, piling up cash is only one reason to collect donations.

  15. Been There, Done That

    Fundraising can be done. There are options that I have yet to see exercised by any state affiliate. I mostly attribute that to tax issues, etc., but Mr Phillies is correct about the $3 donation. We’ve all seen the LNC raising funds for the new office, which is fine, but there is more to do and far more to learn. The problem is that it takes more than one or two people, it takes time and effort, and people get lazy or angry over unrealistic expectations. It would be nice to see dedicated, active leadership showing some initiative and a desire to change and learn.

  16. Stewart Flood

    whois bestlp.org
    Domain Name:BESTLP.ORG
    Domain ID: D172879243-LROR
    Creation Date: 2014-06-09T03:15:38Z
    Updated Date: 2014-06-09T03:15:38Z
    Registry Expiry Date: 2015-06-09T03:15:38Z
    Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, LLC (R91-LROR)
    Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 146
    WHOIS Server:
    Referral URL:
    Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
    Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
    Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
    Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
    Domain Status: serverTransferProhibited
    Domain Status: addPeriod
    Registrant ID:CR170126949
    Registrant Name:Kenneth Moellman Jr
    Registrant Organization:
    Registrant Street: 475 Hickory Grve Rd
    Registrant City:Foster
    Registrant State/Province:Kentucky
    Registrant Postal Code:41043
    Registrant Country:US
    Registrant Phone:+1.8596523575
    Registrant Phone Ext:
    Registrant Fax:
    Registrant Fax Ext:
    Registrant Email:domain@mu-net.org
    Admin ID:CR170126951
    Admin Name:Kenneth Moellman Jr
    Admin Organization:
    Admin Street: 475 Hickory Grve Rd
    Admin City:Foster
    Admin State/Province:Kentucky
    Admin Postal Code:41043
    Admin Country:US
    Admin Phone:+1.8596523575
    Admin Phone Ext:
    Admin Fax:
    Admin Fax Ext:
    Admin Email:domain@mu-net.org
    Tech ID:CR170126950
    Tech Name:Kenneth Moellman Jr
    Tech Organization:
    Tech Street: 475 Hickory Grve Rd
    Tech City:Foster
    Tech State/Province:Kentucky
    Tech Postal Code:41043
    Tech Country:US
    Tech Phone:+1.8596523575
    Tech Phone Ext:
    Tech Fax:
    Tech Fax Ext:
    Tech Email:domain@mu-net.org
    Name Server:NS11.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
    Name Server:NS12.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    Name Server:
    DNSSEC:Unsigned

    How hard was that? The domain ownership isn’t hidden.

    I doubt that Ken is trying to hide who’s involved. Why not ask him?

  17. Ken Moellman

    Hello everyone. Without going into detail, i’m a little bit crippled on internet access at the moment. Some quick replies: i do own the website. I do think there are some details that need to be discussed (more details on the planks are on the website). This is not some secret coup or anything. I’m not seeking any office on the LNC. This is the culmination of multiple discussions with a lot of various people. And suppporters are ‘secret’ right now only because we dont want this to be a radical vs pragmatic or left vs right or any other division within the party. It’s not a caucus. It’s not a scheme or scam. The goal is to provide a list of really basic things the party — us, the members — wish to see accomplished, at a bare minimum, over the next 2 years. Some have characterized it as providing direction for the next LNC — a list of acheivable goals. We want widespread support. Let’s tackle some basic stuff. Please look at the website. If you like the plan, please sign on to the plan on the website.

  18. Nicholas Sarwark

    I applaud the BEST coalition for setting goals for what the LNC should actually do. Somebody needs to.

    I also agree that implementing those goals could turn in to a debacle by which people seek to line their pockets by being hired to implement them.

    If I am elected Chair, I intend to do the things the BEST coalition wants, but do them in a way that best uses our donors’ money, with well negotiated contracts for those services that are contracted out, and measurable and attainable goals to avoid overly high expectations and disappointing results.

  19. Marc Montoni

    The IT infrastructure one is a curious issue. I know from previous experience that the accuracy of National’s data dumps to states is somewhere between “abysmal” and “criminally negligent”.

    Having dealt with the LPHQ database for now almost 30 years, this sounds like BS to me.

    I might have agreed with you in 2004-2005 when a former national director hired incompetent data-entry people who couldn’t spell at all and for whom English was a second language. However, they’ve gotten leagues better since then.

    We just did a mailing to 800 LP members, recently lapsed former members, and recent inquiries in Virginia. The vast majority (~650) were members. Out of the whole mailing, we got word of new data from fewer than 30 addresses. This was the combined total of a) Mailed pieces returned by USPS; b) addresses that the CASS/NCOADB processing caught before the mailing ever went out. 30 mail bounces is a 3.8% error rate. That’s actually about right — 5% of people change their address every year. They die, move in with their parents, get divorced, go to jail, or win the lottery.

    About half the returns were from the recent inquiries section, and that makes sense. There are quite a few cranks who fill out the “more information” form on the LP website with false information, to make us waste postage.

    But still, 770 apparently made it to their destination.

    When the Virginia LP gets word of changed addresses, we tell LPHQ about it, and normally they import the correction with no hassle.

    I’ve heard more than a few stories of state or local affiliates putting National dumps into Mailchimp and then promptly getting their accounts suspended due to excessive rejections or drops; personally, having mailed against the list a couple of times, I’ve found the return post rate to be somewhere in the 33-45% range.

    It’s unclear here whether you’re talking about email or regular mail.

    If regular mail, I have NEVER seen a 33-45 % error rate.

    Ever.

    If you mean email, I can believe that only if your state party has sat on its ass for several years with regard to communication with the people on their list.

    And that’s most state parties. Most of them are little more than moribund shells that make little effort to communicate with their constituents. Even worse, many of them make no effort to share data with national, and so national’s data does get more aged over time.

    I regularly hit every email on the LP database within Virginia. And I have never seen more than ~5% bounces. As soonas I get a bounce, I note it in an importable file for LPHQ, and they delete it or update it, as needded.

    Anything that helps improve on that would be a wonderful thing.

    LPHQ’s IT problems have no easy solution. LPHQ works with ~15,000 member records plus thousands more inquiry & lapsed member records.

    I tried for several years to get the national committee to address various concerns about the database; but was largely rebuffed. I was on the IT Committee with Chuck, and we did our best. Nevertheless, I continue to work with what they put out. It could certainly be better, but even as it is, the LP database is a valuable tool.

    It’s pure short-sighted provincialism that most state parties don’t see it that way.

  20. State Chairs List

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Alex Snitker
    Date: Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 6:37 PM
    Subject: Re: [Statechairs] Fwd: New: The BEST Coalition
    To: SAM8074@aol.com, ken.moellman@lpky.org, statechairs@hq.lp.org

    Thanks for the tip but I am already well informed on the position and mindset of the current LNC regarding this subject.

    It is also sad that you think that having a competition would have that kind of a negative impact. We could see if that was true if any of the state chairs would like to respond.

    The competition itself would make all of our candidates better.

    We will see what the other states think on this subject.

    One other note. You should realize that in order to actually get someone elected to president you will need some wins in congress first. You can plainly see that it is very difficult to see someone get elected but I am sure you have seen some candidates that had a great showing if not win if they just had the full backing of the LP. You would use this to market the entire party. It would be great to have the national sites set up while the competition was going on.

    But we each have an opinion on this and I am sure they are not on the same page.

    Alex Snitker

    Vice Chairman
    Libertarian Party of Florida

    1334 Tampa Road, Suite 2
    Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

    From: SAM8074@aol.com [mailto:SAM8074@aol.com]
    Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2014 6:06 PM
    To: vicechair@lpf.org; ken.moellman@lpky.org; statechairs@hq.lp.org

    Subject: Re: [Statechairs] Fwd: New: The BEST Coalition

    The LNC is not responsible to getting people elected to Congress. That is the responsibility of the various state parties. With a possible 435 candidates for Congress each year there is no way the LNC could make a choice to support just a few with alienating the membership of 45-48 other state parties.

    The only candidate responsibility of the LNC is the POTUS race per our bylaws. If you want to make a change to that then propose a bylaws change during the debate.

    Live Free,

    Sam Goldstein
    LNC Region 3 Representative
    sam.goldstein@lp.org Email

    In a message dated 6/12/2014 4:36:12 P.M. US Eastern Daylight Time, vicechair@lpf.org writes:

    The Best Platform is missing what I would consider the most important goal.

    To get a Libertarian elected to Congress.

    IMO the national LP could facilitate a competition amongst the candidates running for US Congress and the US Senate to identify the best 1 or 2 candidates running with the best chance of winning and focusing the effort of the entire Libertarian Party behind those candidates.

    This was something that I brought up to the LNC in 2010 but was not received well. I was told at the time that competition like this was not something that the LP wanted to do.

    IMO if we can secure a victory there the other issues that you are talking about will be much easier to handle because we would show the nation that we have reached a milestone that shows we are serious about winning elections.

    I can only speak for myself but I will not support any plan that does not address a plan of action that will directly support getting candidates elected to office.

    In Liberty,

    Alex Snitker

    Vice Chairman
    Libertarian Party of Florida

    1334 Tampa Road, Suite 2
    Palm Harbor, Florida 34683

    From: Statechairs [mailto:statechairs-bounces@hq.lp.org] On Behalf Of ken.moellman@lpky.org
    Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 9:06 PM
    To: SAM8074@aol.com; statechairs@hq.lp.org
    Subject: Re: [Statechairs] Fwd: New: The BEST Coalition

    At this phase we’re just looking to get buy-in from state leadership and delegates. I am not one who does much in the way of endorsing people, but I would hope that this is a simple enough plan to warrant widespread support. I encourage LP leaders and delegates to sign-on at the website (BESTLP.org).

    Ken

    Sent from my mobile device

    —— Original message——

    From:

    Date: Wed, 6/11/2014 8:24 PM

    To: ken.moellman@lpky.org;statechairs@hq.lp.org;

    Subject:Re: [Statechairs] Fwd: New: The BEST Coalition

    Ken,

    The BEST Coalition has several excellent ideas and goals for the next LNC. Does the Coalition have any plans to endorse or run candidates for the various LNC offices and the LNC At Large and Regional representative spots? Without a game plan for placing BEST advocates on the LNC your desire for any useful change in LNC priorities will be for naught.

    As you know, I have served on current and immediate past LNCs and have not seen any coherent plan of action for getting Libertarians elected to office nor advancing the profile of the LP in the eye of the general public. In fact, the only coherent effort I’ve seen is the recently culminated purchase of an office condo to house the LP office.

    I wish you and the BEST Coalition great success and look forward to hearing your plans to get BEST supporters elected to the LNC.

    Live Free,

    Sam Goldstein
    LNC Region 3 Representative
    sam.goldstein@lp.org Email

    In a message dated 6/11/2014 6:55:09 P.M. US Eastern Daylight Time, ken.moellman@lpky.org writes:

    Fellow state chairs –

    A number of state chairs and other LP leaders have been talking about the upcoming national convention. I’ve spoken to a number of chairs, and there have been some repetitive themes in many of these phone calls. There are 5 issues upon which everyone seems to agree, and as such we decided they should have a name and a specifically-outlined agenda.

    And so we have formed “The BEST Coalition”. BEST — Building Essential Structure Together — has a very basic, 5-point agenda. We’d like to see the next LNC focus on accomplishing these 5 items in the next 2 years. These things should be able to be achieved in that timeframe.

    The five items are:

    1. The LNC and staff must fully support the Presidential campaign.
    2. The LNC will implement a more balanced approach to ballot access.
    3. The LNC will increase our presence and brand awareness in national politics.
    4. The LNC will update and maintain a modernized IT infrastructure.
    5. The LNC will seek out professional fundraisers to raise significantly more funds.

    These 5 items will provide a core infrastructure for the party at a national level to the benefit of state affiliates. I believe that most state chairs will agree that these are basic roles for LP National.

    You can learn more about The BEST Coalition, and sign up as a supporter of this agenda, at http://www.bestLP.org/ . You can also join the Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/bestlp.org . I would encourage you to share this website with your members and delegates, and encourage them to sign on if they agree with the coalition.

    Thank you,
    Ken Moellman
    Chair, LPKY

  21. Been There, Done That

    Nick,

    I applaud your comments for being the campaign comments they are.

    But lets be specific here. If you like the goals set by BEST, what do you expect to see? What do you see working, and where? What kind of people would you like to see on the LNC?

    I have not yet had an answer to my questions.

  22. Shane

    Chuck, your faith in social media is unfortunate. I’m just letting you know, again, that you simply cannot rely on it for growth.

    Your criticism of fundraisers is laughable or you have been dealing with the wrong people. Decent consultants and agencies raise at least four to six times their costs on house. The issue with the LP is that I haven’t found a single person who is experienced in fundraising and knows how to hire and manage the right support — and in that case, you may get taken for a ride.

    Here are a few quick tips:

    — NEVER hire a fundraiser on commission.
    — Set aside a reasonable percentage of your house file net for prospecting.
    — Build affinity with the membership (don’t ask for money on every touch). Cutting LP News to four or so issues was a huge mistake.
    — Use three marketing channels, not one, not four. Use three. The best for the LP is postal, email and phones. Integrate the messaging.
    — Establish a realistic cost to acquire a new donor and non-donor and test until you hit it. When you hit it, go big.

    The LP has been inept at building a large donor base. It’s the biggest factor holding back the party and there is no excuse for it.

  23. Nicholas Sarwark

    But lets be specific here. If you like the goals set by BEST, what do you expect to see?

    An LNC that actually works on those goals, concrete proposals, and a staff that implements them.

    What do you see working, and where?

    It’s a list of goals, not a set of plans. Goals neither work, nor don’t work.

    What kind of people would you like to see on the LNC?

    People committed to doing work to move the Libertarian Party forward and ending the culture of petty infighting.

  24. David Colborne

    Marc:

    It’s unclear here whether you’re talking about email or regular mail

    The answer is “yes”.

    If regular mail, I have NEVER seen a 33-45 % error rate.

    Ever.

    If you mean email, I can believe that only if your state party has sat on its ass for several years with regard to communication with the people on their list.

    I’ll concede that Nevada’s situation is somewhat unique. We have a highly transient, changing population that moves around more often than most – for example, most of the people I worked with on the Gary Johnson campaign in 2012 have since moved out of state – so that’s undoubtedly part of it. Also, as I’m sure you’re aware, Nevada’s activity levels and leadership has been historically inconsistent over the years, which I’m sure also plays a part.

    Even so, I can assure you that, yes, the bounce rate on our new Executive Committee’s first mailing was roughly 33%, give or take, which is just ridiculous. Presumably, national sends mail to people in Nevada and elsewhere, regardless of whether the state affiliate is running effectively or not, so how is that even possible? The Mailchimp anecdote, meanwhile, came from a county affiliate in a neighboring state; based on what I’ve seen personally, I agree that 33% is probably a little high (my personal failure rate with national’s list is usually around 10% or so when dealing with email), but that’s still higher than you would expect from an organization that regularly sends out email.

    I agree that there are no easy answers to national’s IT. Good IT costs time and money, and we don’t have much of either. A CRM solution that automatically handled email campaigns, including responses and bounces, would go a long way toward helping. A constructive relationship between state affiliates and National would also help; for a variety of reasons, that’s not happening in Nevada (if Oregon secedes, I can think of several members in Nevada, including myself, that would be tempted to join them), but maybe it will help elsewhere.

  25. David Colborne

    Chuck:

    3. The LNC will increase our presence and brand awareness in national politics.

    What we need is to dominate social media with our volunteer army, not to hire a professional to centrally plan talking points.

    I wanted to comment on this one real quick, especially in light of the recent shooting in North Las Vegas.

    The short answer is “yes” – you need both. You need someone clearly in charge and responsible for the Party’s message and you need them to get in front of the crowd and get the message out. Thankfully, we have that in Nevada, which allowed us to get in front of the “hooray for dead cops!” crowd, get our message of nonviolence out, and let our membership know that, no, their state party does not tacitly support the murder of anyone, even if they’re in a police uniform, so it’s okay to disagree with people that do. That proved to be a tremendous comfort to our membership and has allowed us to continue to grow and outreach without issue.

    Without someone “at the helm” – and this person doesn’t necessarily have to have formal authority, they just need to know what they’re talking about, be active socially, and have the respect of the libertarian community – the message can quickly get overwhelmed by those with the most time, which is almost never the people you actually want driving your message. Truth is, a lot of cranks have computers and nothing but time on their hands – if you don’t assign someone to speak for your Party, one of them will happily assume the honor for you. Believe me, that’s not a good thing.

    At the same time, you also need volunteers and like-minded individuals that are willing to share and spread your message, along with people willing to engage with the message. When members of our Executive Committee started coming out publicly after the shooting, we had some spirited discussions on our social media portals, which allowed us the opportunity to fine-tune things even further and better clarify our position on the matter. This wouldn’t be possible with a pure “top-down” approach, not that anyone would seriously recommend one for social media anyway.

  26. George Phillies

    The first time we used the national email list, the email error rate was enormous. Apparently national was at the time not bothering to correct their email list for bounces, and several major ISPs had blacklisted LP.org. When I sent in a very long list of bad emails, I was told by the then-national-director there was no way to make corrections unless I told them the member ID number. Matters have since improved greatly.

  27. Mark Axinn

    I too have problems with the top-down, one size fits all states approach of the BEST plan, but I commend Ken for coming up with a concrete list of priorities and hope that the leadership of the next LNC consider each of them in planning for the future of our party.

    Fundraising by professionals means a lot of money goes to the professionals. I am not a professional fundraiser and charge the LP zero for my time, yet somehow I have managed to raise over $40,000 (not counting National support) since I became LPNY Chair in 2010. Instead, I have begged, pestered and emailed to death my membership without hiring any professionals. The only cost I have incurred is postage (yes, snail mail always raises more than it costs, in fact a lot more). Would a professional have done a better job of fundraising to get candidates on the ballot each of the last four years? I don’t know; I am only a volunteer.

    Now here is an area where I am a professional: Litigation. I welcome support and advice from people outside my state for the lawsuits we bring, but the decision has to be made on the local level as each state has different election laws and needs.

    In the mid-1990’s, we successfully eliminated a statute which required us to list Election Districts and Assembly Districts of every signatory on our ballot petitions (Schulz). In the early 2000’s we joined with the Green Party (and the now-defunct Right to Life Party) to compel the Board of Elections to register New York voters as Libertarians, Greens or RTL’s (Green Party v. BOE) even though none of them were parties at the time. In 2010, we filed (and last year won) a federal case resulting in a change to the rule requiring a candidate of more than one independent body to select only one ballot line (Credico).

    The legal fees in each case were tremendous and if we could not team up with others who provided the funding, we could not have benefitted therefrom. (The Brennan Center at NYU provided counsel in the GP case, and we joined as a “me too” plaintiff. In Credico, the State had to reimburse 80% of our legal fees after we won the underlying litigation.)

    We have also defended several legal challenges to our candidates, with representation provided by a small handful of attorneys willing to work for very reduced rates for LPNY candidates.

    In each case, we have had to evaluate the merits, costs and available funding of litigation. This is something that had to be done at a local level and on a case by case basis in every instance.

  28. Eric Sundwall

    1. Just bloody protest when you can and stop all the hand wringing.

    2. Let all LPUS or state affiliate members into the LP POTUS debate. No tokens.

    3. Become a nimble and virtual organization that funds ballot access.

    4. Never stop asserting taxation is theft.

    5. Oppose all wars.

    6. Litigate to debate.

    7. End zoning.

    8. Oppose government schools.

    9. Demand the metric system.

    10. Fight people who attack you.

    Mark Axinn for LPUS proconsul for life!

  29. Scott Lieberman

    re: “Shane June 13, 2014 at 6:52 am”

    Shane:

    Your comments on fundraising are very, very good.

    In fact, that comment should be required reading for the Libertarian Party’s Executive Director, all new members of the LNC, and all State Committee members.

  30. Shane

    George, regarding your email issues, I hope that wasn’t me.

    The email database was not (possible is not) synced with Raiser’s Edge. So bounces, unsubs, etc., don’t report back to RE for the data dump.

    I don’t think it should but for any state just now getting data in order, they want only valid email addresses and should get a separate dump from the email database.

    I know I cleaned up the email DB twice. First time was in 2004 when it was a complete mess. The second time, we added in a match from the registered libertarian file and that too required a good deal of work.

    I don’t think the email has grown much in the last seven years but LPHQ should purchase the registered libertarian file and do an email append. While that file is bad for postal prospecting, it’s a good way to build affinity over email.

  31. Michael H. Wilson

    A good bit of what Shane wrote about fund raising should be used as an article in the LP News. These are the sort of things and training tools that the local membership needs to have access to.

  32. Chuck Moulton

    Shane wrote:

    Your criticism of fundraisers is laughable or you have been dealing with the wrong people.

    My criticism of fundraisers is laughable AND I have been dealing with the wrong people.

    You are just as familiar with the LP’s storied history as I am. See for example the Badnarik for Congress campaign from 2006. If I took all the LP affiliates that hired executive directors or fundraisers and determined the percentage of the affiliate budget that went to the ED salary each year for the last decade (e.g., if 6 affiliates each had EDs for 10 years, that would be 60 data points), what do you think the median percentage would be?

  33. Shane

    Michael, I doubt they’d run anything by me in LP News. However, I’d be happy to write regular tips to the LSLA list — I think they could make the most of it. If you know anyone on the list that would forward, just let me know.

    On the “right” there’s is a great weekly fundraising tip put out but Koch along with a monthly call. We should do the same.

  34. George Phillies

    Chuck, Somewhere around 100%. A number of states with EDs spent WAY MORE than their income, could not legally go broke (not to mention the ED gets the property that is worth anything, like mailing lists and name ownership and URLS), and took years to dig their way out.

    NC made a paid ED work by giving him a fixed cut of money he raised on his own. IN seems to have worked with a different formula. The amount of money MA wasted is astonishing.

  35. Shane

    Chuck, point taken. The question remains is should ED’s be doing the fundraising? They’re administrators, not necessarily marketers or fundraisers. A good ED knows enough about politics, marketing, organizing, etc., to know they’re not experts.

    In an ideal party, the affiliates would receive fundraising support (as in templates, software and consulting) from LPHQ. That would reduce costs and raise returns all around.

    But that can’t be done until LPHQ proves their marketing acumen.

  36. From Der Sidelines

    More trying to reinvent the wheel every two years?

    When is the LP going to get the damn car off the blocks and actually moving?

  37. Steven Wilson

    Over the years, I have heard many theories about how to “do” fundraising. I am not saying one is better than the other, but I do know people; and people want results. If a person donates many with the purpose of funding ballot access and the efforts fail, then you owe them an explanation. Transparency of the endeaor would aid in this explanation.

    If you donate for a building and wind up with a office, then that is what you paid for: you paid for an office.

    I have tried to say many times on here but no one seems to care about it. Brand equity is a long term phenomena. You can’t buy it now, you can’t plant it in the spring and harvest in the fall, and you can’t contract it by going on craig’s list. No matter who you hire to do it, fundraising for the LP is going to be difficult.

    What are you doing with my money?

    From angel investors to grandma and grandpa: a short question and one that is easy to say, but one that most won’t answer truthfully. Gary Johnson and his campaign paid a great percentage toward labor. That is wonderful if a family member or friend needed a job, but if the goal was to achieve a victory then it was a total loss.

    I suggest specific outcome-centric fundraising. I might also suggest make fundraising a local game. Have state chairs percentile their funds. Today, when you donate to the State LP, X1 goes to the state, while X2 goes to the National LP.

    Examples

    Ladies and gentlemen, tonight I am asking donations for websites for candidates running for federal races this cycle. The cost per candidate website is X.

    Ladies and gentlemen, tonight I am asking donations for radio spots to be purchased for a Governor campaign in the state of A. The cost per radio spot is X.

    For all donors, you will have access to a online excel program which will be updated once a week. It will show how much is donated and where it goes. If you have concerns you can contact me at this number. I will also respond to emails within 24 hours.

    Thank you for your time and your money.

    It sounds very simple when I type it, but it fails when the LNC reads it. You can’t crayola brand equity. The LP has NO brand equity that is positive. It doesn’t matter how strongly you feel about it. It doesn’t matter how much you want the LNC to be functional.

    When a customer buys X and it performs as expected, the customer is going to return to that X. Over time, the customer will not need advertising slogans, rebates, or coupon offers. Over time the brand of X sells itself.

    If the LNC operates openly and efficiently with this format, you won’t find Wes or anyone else going Oliver Twist. But the LP must begin somewhere, and begging for money to keep the lights on while celebrating buying an office we cannot afford is amateur.

    I am not trying to offend anyone in particular, but quite frankly, this should be a no brainer.

    Cheers!!

  38. Shane

    Steven, non-profit/political fundraising is a bit different. People don’t really want to know how their money is used specifically, they want to know the result. The question I repeatedly ask my copywriters is “how will my life improve if I give you $25?”

    It’s the difference between lawn and lawn seed. When they go to the home improvement store to get lawn seed, they’re thinking ahead and picturing their lawn.

    When people give $100 to a candidate or party, they’re thinking ahead to a better country.

    I disagree that raising money for the LP is difficult. Raising money for the GOP is FAR more difficult.

  39. Michael H. Wilson

    George I have not heard of many EDs in the LP doing much more than wasting time and money while accomplishing little or nothing. There are a few good people in that position but few and far between.

  40. Andy

    Chuck Moulton said: “A lot of the people who argue for a ‘balanced approach’ want to focus on lobbying and litigation to improve ballot access INSTEAD OF petitioning in the harder states. Often they are willing to forgo ballot access if lobbying and litigation doesn’t work and/or they want to reallocate the resources currently spent on very hard states to other projects.

    In my opinion we should be doing all three simultaneously: lobbying, litigation, and ballot access. We should form teams of volunteers tasked with each (e.g., utilizing the many attorneys who are LP members). But I would not jettison ballot access in Illinois or Pennsylvania or New York if lobbying and litigation aren’t successful. We need our presidential candidate on 49 states (ideally 50 if we can tame Oklahoma).”

    How about also improving the way that ballot access petition drives are run? The petition drives should be more outreach oriented, and most of the work should be done by actual Libertarians.

    The Libertarian Party just spent a bunch of money on a petition drive in Illinois. How many of the signatures were collected (and are being collected) by actual Libertarians, and how many of them have been and are being collected by non-libertarian mercenaries? Answer, once again, most of the signatures have been collected by people who are not even libertarians.

    Libertarians should be the ones picking up the f’ing clip boards, pens, and petition sheets and going out and talking about THEIR party and the philosophy that they CLAIM to support, rather than farming most of the work out to people who are NOT libertarians.

    We are not back in the 1970’s or 1980’s. The Libertarian Party has been around for a long time now, and there are a lot of Libertarians and small “l” libertarians in this country.

    Why does the LP still engage in ballot access as if nothing has been learned since the 1970’s and 1980’s, and as if the Libertarian Party is still some weird little party of which most people have never heard?

    Why do we have to go through the same issues with petition circulators getting access to public locations to collect signatures year after year? The LP has been petitioning in Illinois almost every 2 years since the 1970’s, yet little to nothing is ever done during or in between petition drives to make sure that petition circulators have access to locations where there is public foot traffic without getting run out by some cop or bureaucrat.

    The same thing happens in every state, in spite of the fact that in many, or even all of these instances, there are ALREADY court presidents legal statutes in place that are supposed to protect our right to go out in public and ask people to sign petitions, yet these rulings and statutes are frequently IGNORED and hardly anyone does anything about it.

    Petition circulators getting run out of places where the public has access is one of the biggest obstacles faced on ballot access drives, because if you can’t get access to the public to ask them to sign the petitions, you can’t get any signatures. If a petition circulator gets run out of a location, they have to waste a lot of time trying to find another location, and they may not find one that is any good. This is one of the biggest reasons why some petition drives fail, and it is also one of the reasons why the LP has had to spend more money than necessary to save some petition drives.

    The LP should have a list of all of the relevant court rulings and legal statutes, and should have letters form letters written to deal with different situations (such as one for colleges, one for public festivals, one for DMV’s, one for public libraries, etc….). These form letters could have fill in the blank boxes (we encounter the same situations over and over again) and should have the name, phone number, fax number, and email address of a Libertarian attorney (the LNC’s attorney, or an LP volunteer who is an attorney). Anyone can send a letter that cites court decisions and legal statutes, but a lot of people are more impressed or intimidated if the letter comes from licensed attorney. Sometimes a simple letter or phone call from an attorney get the goons to back down, and this means that petition circulators can collect a lot more signatures than they’d be able to get otherwise.

    Here is a real life example of this in action, and this instance happened courtesy of Ken Moellman, or at least from him taking my suggestion. Paul and I were in Kentucky gathering signatures to place Ken Moellman on the ballot when he ran for State Treasurer in 2011. While there, we got hassled and run out of a public library and a festival that was held in a public park. I called up Ken, I told him what happened, and I mentioned the some relevant court rulings and statutes. I then asked Ken if he knew anyone that was an attorney. He said that he had a friend who was an attorney. His friend was not an LP member, but was apparently an LP sympathizer. Anyway, he contacted his attorney friend, told him what happened to us at that library and that festival in public park, and Ken’s attorney friend contacted the library and the people who ran the festival in the public park, and both the library and the festival people BACKED DOWN and Paul and I were able to go back to those locations and collect signatures.

    Contacting the whoever is in charge of whatever venue where the public has access with information about our legal right to ask people to sign petitions at said venue, even when done by an attorney, does not always work, but it DOES WORK enough of the time to where it is worth doing, and gaining access to such venues can be the difference maker in ballot access drives succeeding or failing, and can also save the party money from having to bring in more petition circulators do to “last minute saves.”

    I really think that the party should engage in law suits when petition circulators are run out of locations. I realize that this is not practical to do all of the time, but even if there were just a few law suits like this here and there it could make a big difference, especially if the party is smart about it.

    Oh, and as for Oklahoma, that state’s ballot access requirement is achievable. I know it is difficult, but the LP has made it their before. The reason that it failed in the last few elections is because there was not a real attempt for 2004 and for 2008, and for 2012, there was a real attempt, but it was badly mismanaged. Yes, it was mismanagement that killed LP ballot access in Oklahoma for 2012. The money and manpower was available for that drive to have been a success, and it would have been, if not for mismanagement.

  41. Andy

    The LNC and the Gary Johnson campaign had to spend several thousand more dollars than necessary getting on the ballot in Alabama due to petition circulators being illegal run out of several locations, such as at least two colleges, and there was another one where petitioners were limited to only gathering signatures on the exterior sidewalks, a public library, a public arena, as well as some other places. This cost the drive a few thousand signatures, and to make up for it, more money had to be spent to bring in more petition circulators.

    I was personally threatened with arrest for petitioning at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (two other petition circulators were threatened with arrest there as well), the Homewood Public Library, and the Jefferson/Birmingham Civic Center (I was even threatened with arrest after I moved out to the public side walk that goes in front of the Civic Center).

    The cops at the University of Alabama claimed that it was a private university, and when I showed them paper work that said that it was a public college, they continued to insist that it was a private college. When I told them that the paper was a state government agency where they listed the University of Alabama as being a public university, their response was, “Well, that’s just their opinion.” I told the cops that I was going to come back the next day to talk to the administrators, and they said that if they saw me on the campus carrying petition sheets or voter registration forms, that they would arrest me.

    A couple of other petition circulators were threatened by the police at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Fortunately, that campus is located in down town Birmingham, and it is surrounded by city sidewalks, so these petitioners were able to collect signatures from the city sidewalks that surround the campus, however, it did cut down on the number of signatures that they were able to collect, because not everyone who goes to that campus walks on the city sidewalks that surround the campus, so after they were run out of the interior sidewalks on that campus, they were cut off from asking a lot of people from signing the petition whom they never got to see on the exterior city sidewalks that surround that campus.

    I was not so fortunate when I tried to gather signatures at a gun show at the Jefferson/Birmingham Civic Center. I started out in court yard in front of the entrance and I was getting a great response on the petition. The gun show promoter was even cool with me being there, and they said that I could come inside if they had more room, which unfortunately they did not. Everything was going fine up until I was approached by the Jefferson/Birmingham Civic Center Police. Yes, that’s right, the Jefferson/Birmingham Civic Center actually has its own police force that is stationed there on a full time basis (I don’t think that they really do anything most of the time, other ran ride or walk around and try to look important). The first cops that approached me said that I had to move out to the public side walk, I tried to explain what I was doing, and how we have a legal right to do this, but they would not listen, so I ended up going out to the public sidewalk. I was still able to collect signatures there, but not as many, as this cut me off from speaking to a lot of the gun show attendees who approached the arena entrance from a different direction, but I was still able to get some signatures, that this was better than nothing. After being out on the public sidewalk for a little while, I was then approached by the Civic Center Police again, and I was then told that I could not be on the public sidewalk. I told them that I had to get these signatures in order to place a candidate for President on the ballot. They asked me who it was, and I said, “Gary Johnson.” They said, “Gary Johnson? Who is that?” I said, “He’s a former Governor of New Mexico, and now he is running for President as the candidate for the Libertarian Party.” One of the cops then said, “Why is he doing that? Who does he think he is, Ross Perot or something?” I said, “He’s running because he wants to run, and because the Libertarian Party nominated him to run.” They said, “Well, you can’t do this here.” I said, “This is a public sidewalk, and the US Supreme Court has ruled that public sidewalks are fair ground for free speech activities anywhere in the United States of America.” I then tried to explain that Alabama state election law requires us to gather these signatures in order to place a candidate on the ballot, but they did not care, as they continued to insist that I had to leave or that I’d be arrested. I said that I was not going to leave and that I wanted to speak to whoever is in charge at the police department. They said that they were calling a Police Sergeant to the scene. The Police Sergeant came to the scene and was a total authoritarian asshole (and note that there were already 5 cops there surrounding me on a public sidewalk, so with the Sergeant, this made 6) who would not listen to anything that I had to say or read any of the legal papers I was carrying, and he threated to take me to jail if I did not leave immediately. Remembering what had happened to me with the police in Ellicott City, Maryland in 2010, and remembering how I received ZERO help from anybody in the Libertarian Party in dealing with that situation, I decided to retreat. So I left this event where I was doing well gathering ballot access petition signatures, and then had to drive around the Birmingham area to try to find another location. This happened on Saturday. The gun show was a two day event, which ran Saturday and Sunday (as pretty much all gun shows do), so this screwed up both my Saturday and Sunday. I did a lot of driving around which wasted a lot of time (and gas), and I ended up running around in the parking lot of a shopping center that had a dollar store and a drug store. I got a few signatures, but not as many as I would have gotten had I been able to remain at the gun show, especially if I could have staid in the high traffic location in front in the court yard in front of where people entered the show.

    This type of crap that I described above is not limited to Alabama, it happens in every state pretty much every time a petition drive is held. It is less likely to happen in a few states than in others, but this is only because of multiple law suits that have happened in these few states, and then numerous phone calls to the Secretary of State’s offices, Attorney General’s offices, city attorney’s offices, and to police watch commanders, to make sure that the court rulings from those law suits are actually being followed. This type of crap has happened during the course of the petition drive in Illinois that the LP is doing right now, including within the last few days.

    How often does anyone in the Libertarian Party even try to do anything to help with these situations, or to try to prevent them from happening? Not very often.

  42. Andy

    ” that this was better than nothing.”

    Should read, “and this was better than nothing.”

  43. Andy

    ” being illegal run out of several locations”

    Should read, “being illegally run out of several locations…”

  44. Andy

    ” (e.g., utilizing the many attorneys who are LP members).”

    So there are many Libertarian Party members who are attorneys. Wow, you wouldn’t know this when it comes to people gathering signatures on Libertarian Party ballot access petitions being threatened, harassed, intimidated, being illegally run out of public locations where they are trying to ask people to sign the petition, and even being illegally arrested.

    During the situation where I was falsely arrested for gathering petition signatures in front of a public library in Ellicott City, Maryland, which was documented here at Independent Political Report, NOT ONE LIBERTARIAN ATTORNEY LIFTED A FINGER TO DO A GOD DAMN THING, INCLUDING THE ONES WHO FREQUENT THIS WEBSITE! NOT EVEN SO MUCH AS A WORD OF ADVICE.

    Why haven’t Libertarian attorneys done anything about the petition circulators who have been threatened with arrest within the last several weeks for attempting to gather LP ballot access petition signatures at Chicago Transit Authority stops, or public libraries, or other locations in Illinois?

    Not even so much as one phone call been made by any Libertarian attorneys to my knowledge, or one letter or fax or even a freaking email from Libertarian attorney of which I am aware.

    A person gathering petition signatures on an LP ballot access petition gets threatened or arrested or even beaten up by the cops. Who gives a shit, right? This has been the attitude of most of the dilettantes in the LP.

  45. Michael H. Wilson

    Andy I once asked a Libertarian attorney for some advice on an issue. He told me his fee was $500 an hour. I found the info much cheaper than that.

  46. Shane

    Paul, postal outperforms email marketing in every circumstance I’ve seen that was professionally managed.

    A decent postal house file returns 5% of pieces delivered. A decent email house file returns .4% of emails delivered.

    Even with significantly reduced costs on email, postal still has a higher net.

    That will change within the next decade or so, but for now postal is still king.

  47. Andy

    WOW, the silence from Libertarian lawyers (several of whom are regular readers of this site) is DEAFENING.

  48. Eric Blitz

    @Andy

    I suspect many practicing libertarian lawyers are not familiar with the viable means of recourse to address the problems you describe. A lawyer will justifiably be vary hesitant to enter into a pro bono case in a field he/she is unfamiliar with the law and available process, for both professionalism and liability reasons. You can’t expect any and all libertarian lawyers to assist in an intervention on the spot with police departments when they have not been adequately prepared on these topics. Most lawyers would have no reason to have educated themselves on these topics, as there are few who regularly practice in areas dealing with First Amendment, civil rights, municipal law, etc. My point is that this type of assistance cannot be ad hoc, but must be prepared in advance.

    It would be good if each state party that faces petitioning secure assistance of a lawyer in advance, one who is willing to be educated on these topics. It would be preferable if we could leverage those lawyers already familiar with federal law and useful methods of resolving some of these cases to prepare papers to assist local lawyers in this regard, and I suspect we could solve some of these issues with some coordination. I also suspect it would be difficult to achieve these results.

    Then there is a more difficult problem to resolve. The reality is that these incidents are fact-intensive, in that the particular facts of the petitioner’s behavior and location and whether the application of the time/place/manner restrictions being relied upon by the authority determine the correct outcome. Because they are fact-intensive, their resolution is a very open-ended time burden that will scare off most lawyers. It is harder to tell a pro bono client that the costs don’t justify the relief they may seek. A paying client faces that reality. A pro bono client shifts that burden onto the lawyer. In many of these cases, it would be much more cost effective to just find another location than try to intervene. I’m sure many lawyers could ‘wing it’ with a phone call with the responding officers, but the success rate will be low (the fact intensive nature of the issue favors the police officers, who can side-step facts/law with a directive to achieve the public peace).

    It would be interesting to determine whether 1983 relief could be applied and start changing policy through the threat of such litigation, but I don’t know whether that is viable as I don’t practice in that area.

  49. Nicholas Sarwark

    42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the section of the U.S. Code codifying a cause of action to sue governments for depriving someone of their civil rights. It allows someone to seek money damages and, if I recall correctly, attorney’s fees.

  50. Eric Blitz

    On the subject of the Best Coalition, I would suggest that perhaps the focus on paid fundraising give way to a focus on better coordination and support for volunteer activities. I could envision a plan whereby the LP national develops a system whereby each state is asked to appoint a volunteer coordinator (many already have them), the volunteer coordinators are then asked to: (1) work together (regularly communicate through conference calls/social media platforms/maybe even national website support) on best practices; and (2) work with the national LP’s political director on substantive items that can be worked on at the local level but are coordinated and supported at the national level.

    Each state could opt in to such a system, so there is no command that state affiliates might object to, yet we might leverage the national party’s ability to build coalitions and prepare necessary support systems through such coordination. In my experience, gathering volunteers is not as hard as giving them meaningful tasks to do and sustaining any efforts once started. The volunteer coordinator cannot be tasked with both coordinating the volunteers and generating the substantive tasks. It is too overwhelming considering the breadth of the tasks the party faces. Sustaining efforts beyond an initial trial run is often difficult because there is no infrastructure supporting sustained efforts. The volunteers are often asked to provide their own support in a way that often breaks down. If instead of being asked to manage the actual volunteer work, the coordinators act as the person responsible for bringing in new volunteers and then coordinating their deployment to tasks that are managed by others, we might be able to cure the sustainability problem by having national support the states on the substantive tasks. If the national political director worked to develop the substantive tasks with each state director/chair who wish to participate, we might be able to activate more individuals to engage in meaningful activities. It would allow national to coordinate on subject matter, build in options for coordinating the necessary messaging with the social media teams, and by supporting meaningful activities for volunteers to engage in, increase the local activity level for some of the states that need a push. National leadership doesn’t need to displace state leadership, it needs to empower it through coordination, best practices, and a sense of purpose. The LNC, the Chair, and the Executive Director would need to buy into providing the assistance necessary to make the Political Director’s role in such an initiative useful.

    The reason I suggest that volunteer coordination replace fundraising, is that I am not sure fundraising support and coordination from national will be anything more than what I’ve seen in the past. I am suspicious of the claims of paid fundraising schemes and think many states will view a national approach to selling such schemes as too risky to ‘buy in’ to the effort. However, most state affiliates have the opportunity and incentive to bring in volunteers and put them into service.

  51. Andy

    “paulie June 19, 2014 at 7:56 am
    You’re surprised that they are not eager to take on an unlimited amount of pro bono ork?

    A lot of this stuff would not take much work at all. We encounter the same problems over and over again in every state in the country (some more so than others) every time there is a petition drive or voter registration drive. Form letters could be written to deal with each situation, as in one for DMV’s, one for libraries, one for colleges, one for festivals, one for transit stops, etc… The form letters could be kept on file and whenever a situation arises the blanks could be filled in on the appropriate form letter. A list of Libertarian lawyers could be kept on file, it could be paid staff lawyer, or it could be a state or national committee member who is a lawyer, or it could be just a regular party member who wants to help.

    The Libertarian lawyer could be contacted and told, “We just had some petition circulators who were prevented from gathering signatures and were threatened with arrest at _______________ (fill in the blank). We are going to dispatch the appropriate form letter. If we don’t hear back from the people in charge of ______________ (fill in the blank) within three days, can you follow it up with a phone call?”

    You people are acting like this is a lot of work, and it really is not. It would only be a lot of work if we pursued litigation. I can understand being leery about the amount of work and time commitment it would take to purse a law suit, but keep in mind that it can be work it to do this. Law suits such as this have helped ease the process of gathering petition signatures in several states by opening up public access locations for signature gathering where petition circulators were previously being run off.

    I cited a real life example of this above, when Ken Moellman’s lawyer friend in Kentucky (who is not even an LP member) contacted a public library and a public festival where Paul and I had been illegally prevented from gathering petition signatures. Both locations backed down after they were contacted by Ken’s lawyer friend, and Paul and I were able to go back to these locations and collect a lot of signatures to place Ken on the ballot. This did not take a lot of work from his lawyer friend either.

    The ACLU of Arkansas did this for us when we were illegally prevented from gathering petition signatures at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock and the University in Central Arkansas in Conway. Both of these colleges backed down after they received letters from the ACLU followed up by phone calls. Paul and I were able to go back to these colleges and collect a lot of signatures for ballot access.

    I can only think of one example in the 14 years that I’ve been involved in ballot access where a Libertarian lawyer contacted a location that was preventing people from gathering petition signatures or registering people to vote. This happened when I was in Tucson, AZ a few years ago, and myself and another person were illegally prevented from gathering voter registrations at Pima County Community College. A Libertarian lawyer from AZ contacted this community college and the community college backed down.

    Most of these situations do NOT require a lot of work. A lot of it can be solved with a letter or a phone call, or perhaps a letter followed up with a phone call.

    A good project for the Libertarian Party to take on would be to contact Secretary of State’s offices, Attorney General’s offices, city attorney’s offices, etc…, around the country, both when ballot access drives are going on and when they are not going on, and clarify where it is legal for people to ask people to gather petition signatures or ask people to register to vote (hint: there are multiple court rulings that indicate that it is anywhere the public has access). I’d also recommend contacting the United States Attorney’s office. Under Title 18 of United States Code in Section 245 it says that it is a crime to interfere with anyone who is qualifying a candidate for the ballot or assisting people in registering to vote. How often is this law actually enforced? Not very often. Title 18 of United States Code also says that it is a crime to deprive somebody of their civil rights under color of law. Petition circulators get deprived of their civil rights under the color of law on an almost everyday basis in this country, yet the people who deprive them of their civil rights under the color of law almost always get away with it.

    I recommend that the Libertarian Party formulate a game plan to open up access for petition signature gathering and voter registration at more locations across the country. The party ought to put out the call for volunteers to start faxing or mailing form letters and making phone calls to Secretary of State’s offices, Attorney General’s offices, City Attorney’s offices, the US Attorney’s office, etc… These letters ought to be followed up with phone calls. The form letters should be written by Libertarian lawyers (they could actually copy some letters that were already written by other groups, like the ACLU, but just put it in their own words). The people mailing or faxing the form letters do not have to be lawyers, as they could be any LP volunteers or office staffers.

    Questions such as, “The federal district court ruled in Groene vs. Seng that the areas leading up to the entrances of DMV’s, libraries, court houses, etc…, are fair game for petition signature gathering. So why did a DMV employee at _______________ (fill in the location) tell one of our petition circulators that they had to leave, and why did a police officer threaten this petition circulator with arrest if they did not leave? What part of this court ruling do they not understand?”

    Or,

    “The US Supreme Court ruled in 1944 in the case of Marsh vs. Alabama, that a person does not give up their right to free speech when they walk on to a corporate square that is open to the public, so why did the police threaten to arrest one of our petition circulators if they did not leave after they were called by ______________ (fill in name of corporate employee).”

    How about trying to get something in writing BEFORE a petition drive starts from a Secretary of State’s office or an Attorney General’s office about where petitioners can go to collect signatures? When asking them this question, be sure to bring up cases like Groene vs. Seng and Marsh vs. Alabama, and try to get them to take stands on it, or to admit what it says.

    I’ve been to the LP national office in DC a couple of times. I noticed several empty desks that had computer and telephones on them. I know that the LP national office is moving to, or has already moved to, Arlington, VA, but I imagine that they will still have some extra desks, computers, and phones. Why not utilize some interns, and give them a phone script, and have some call some of these locations that hassle petition signature gatherers? Hell, I’ve done this myself, and sometimes it has worked, and I don’t have any special training.

    I don’t particularly care for the going the permission route myself, in most cases, because seeking permission turns something which is supposed to be our right, into a privilege, and in most cases, I don’t believe that we need permission or a “permit” to ask people to sign petitions. Exceptions to this could be if the event is in some kind of private club, or inside and event where people have to purchase tickets to get inside, or inside somebody’s private home. I really don’t think that we should have to seek permission to gather petition signatures at any of the corporate stores/shopping centers, because these corporations are all legal fictions created by the state, and I happen to know that they all receive various forms a tax payer subsidies, and that most of them, or maybe even all of them, are in part OWNED by various government entities (see government Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports for more details, and you will find that government employee pension funds, school districts, state universities, community colleges, water districts, toll authorities, port authorities, public transit systems, etc…, own billions and billions of dollars worth of corporate stocks and bonds). I also happen to know that a lot of these corporate stores/shopping centers are built on land that was seized through eminent domain, and that land seized through eminent domain is supposed to be for a public use. Also, there are several court rulings such as Marsh vs. Alabama, Robins vs. Pruneyard, and Bock vs. Westminster Mall, which have indicated that people do not give up their 1st amendment rights when they walk on to corporate property which is open to the public. Law enforcement in California, Washington, Massachusetts, and Colorado is supposed to back up the rights of people to gather petition signatures and register people to vote in public places, including stores/shopping centers. I say that they are supposed to do this, because they do not always follow the law, but I will say that my experience in working on petition drives in California 18 times, in Washington 5 times, in Colorado 7 times, and in Massachusetts 4 times, is that it was followed more often than not. So I’d like to see unfettered access for petition circulators and people conducting voter registration to all places that are open to the public, be it what is acknowledged to a government building like a DMV or public library or court house, or be it a corporate square or corporate store or corporate shopping center/mall that is opened to the public.

  52. paulie

    The office has already moved. There’s a space that could be set up for interns in the basement. Haven’t seen any sign that it is being used at all.

  53. Andy

    “paulie June 19, 2014 at 3:18 pm
    The office has already moved. There’s a space that could be set up for interns in the basement. Haven’t seen any sign that it is being used at all.”

    There are a lot of people out there that would like to have some job experience that they can put down on a resume. What I suggested above would give Libertarian Party interns something productive to do, which would benefit the party, and it would give them something that they could put down on a job resume.

    I mentioned how I don’t like seeking permission in most cases, when it comes to gathering petition signatures or conducting voter registration drives. Even though I do not like doing it in most cases, I have done it before, just for the sake of expediency. When a petition circulator has to waste their time going around asking for permission to gather signatures at various locations, it means that they are not gathering any signatures during this time period, which means that if they are a paid petitioner, they are not making any money, but perhaps more importantly from the perspective of those who are paying for the petition drive, they are not bringing in more signatures during the time that they are having to spend going around seeking permission for places to gather signatures. This is something that sets back progress on petition drives, and can lead to them failing, or having to have expensive last minute saves.

    When going the permission route, instead of having the petition circulators waste their time doing this, when their time is more productively spent gathering signatures, why not have office staffers or office interns or even regular Libertarian Party volunteers making these permission seeking calls or sending out these permission seeking emails or letter or faxes?

    I’ve seen a few Libertarian Party petition drives where somebody other than the petition circulator did the permission seeking, and the few times it has happened it has been of great benefit. A petition circulator is there to gather signatures, anything the petition circulator has to do beyond this is wasted time, and believe me, it is still a lot of work getting people to sign the petition even when you have a location.

    I see this as a division of labor. Petition drives would run more smoothly, and would be less likely to fail, or to run way over cost, if the party took some steps both before and during the petition drives to ensure that petition circulators have places to go where there is public foot traffic so they can ask people to sign the petitions. Any time that the petition circulator has to spend battling it out with the police, security guards, government bureaucrats, store managers, etc…, is time that could be more productively spent gathering signatures unmolested (as in without the interference of the police, security guards, etc…).

    If petition circulators had better access to more high foot traffic locations, smaller petition crews could be utilized, which would mean that more of the signatures could be collected by actual Libertarians, both paid and volunteer Libertarian signature gatherers.

    Also, for those who think that I’m only concerned about the paid aspect of gathering petition signatures or registering people to vote, consider this, how many people are motivated to go out and volunteer to collect petition signatures or voter registrations on a volunteer basis when they find out that there is a good chance that they are going to threatened by the police or security guards or government bureaucrats or store managers? Not too many people want to volunteer to do this under these conditions.

  54. Andy

    Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Unlawfully Arrested For Gathering Signatures For Ballot Access

  55. Andy

    I wonder if any Libertarian Party members who are lawyers have stepped forward to offer assistance, even in the form of advice, to the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor of Minnesota who was illegally arrested for attempting to gather ballot access petition signatures in a public park.

  56. Nicholas Sarwark

    I was not aware Mr. Holbrook needed assistance or advice in this matter.

    He was released without charge, got an apology from the police for the improper arrest, and milked the free media to get out the message. I couldn’t have advised him to do anything different, and besides, he didn’t ask me.

  57. Andy

    Eric Blitz said: “Then there is a more difficult problem to resolve. The reality is that these incidents are fact-intensive, in that the particular facts of the petitioner’s behavior and location and whether the application of the time/place/manner restrictions being relied upon by the authority determine the correct outcome. Because they are fact-intensive, their resolution is a very open-ended time burden that will scare off most lawyers.”

    I’ve been involved with ballot access for 14 years and I’ve worked on ballot access drives in 33 states. I can tell you that almost all complaints against petition circulators fall into one of three categories:

    1) The complainer is politically opposed to whatever it is that the petition circulator is gathering signatures for and wants to get them kicked out because they do not want the petition drive that they are working on to be successful. These complainers are almost always either Democrats or Republicans. I’d say that this group constitutes the majority of complainers.

    I’ve actually seen strategy papers from groups who oppose petitions where they encourage their group members to make false complaints to location managers and the police in order to prevent petition circulators from gathering signatures on petitions which they oppose.

    2) Crazy people who just don’t like anyone talking to them. Yes, there are people like this out there.

    3) Ignorant people who think that petition circulators are doing something illegal, like identity theft, or soliciting without a permit.

    It is very rare that any complaint against a petition circulator has any legitimacy to it.

    Somebody may say, “The petitioner was rude to me.” Well this is somebody’s opinion, and their definition of rude may be that the petitioner asked them to sign more than once. Some people actually complain if you ask them to sign more than once, as if you are going to remember everyone who walks by when you talk to 1,000 plus people per day. Consider this, if a petition circulator is really rude, then they will not get that many signatures, which means that if they are getting paid, they won’t make very much money. Truly rude petitioners don’t last very long in the business. If they are volunteer petitioners and are really rude, they won’t get many signatures, which means that the cause that they support won’t get many signatures. Rude is a matter of opinion, and is not a crime.

    “The petitioner is blocking the door.” is another common complaint, but it is also usually something that people lie about or exaggerate. Most petition circulators have enough sense to not block a door. I’ve had people falsely accuse me of blocking a door, when I was 15 or 20 or 30 or more feet away from it. The rare occasions when a petition circulator does not have enough sense to not block a door, it is usually somebody who is not going to be very successful or last very long as a petition circulator.

    I’ve been involved in or seen or hear about more of these situations where a petition circulator had a nasty run in with the police and/or security guards and/or government bureaucrats and/or store managers, and they are almost always the same, and the complaint is almost always generated by somebody who falls into one of the three categories that I mentioned above.

    We really don’t even need lawyers for some of these situations, because myself, and some others, like Paul, already know a lot about the law as it pertains to gathering signatures on petitions and registering people to vote, but it helps to have actual lawyers in all of these cases. Why? Because there are lots of stupid conformists (which are usually the type of people who harass people who gather signatures on petitions) out there who are impressed with titles. I could tell them the exact same thing that an attorney would say, but because I’m not a member of the BAR Association and don’t have a title next to my name a lot of these people will not take it as seriously.

    There are some occasions when we really could use an attorney in these situations, and that is for filing law suits when we are denied access to locations and it can not be resolved any other way, as well as when petition circulators are falsely arrested by the police.

  58. Andy

    “I’ve been involved in or seen or hear about more of these situations where a petition circulator had a nasty run in with the police and/or security guards and/or government bureaucrats and/or store managers,”

    Should read, “I’ve been involved in or seen or heard about more of these situations where a petition circulator had a nasty run in with the police and/or security guards and/or government bureaucrats and/or store managers than I could easily count….”

  59. Andy

    “Eric Blitz June 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm
    @Andy

    I suspect many practicing libertarian lawyers are not familiar with the viable means of recourse to address the problems you describe. A lawyer will justifiably be vary hesitant to enter into a pro bono case in a field he/she is unfamiliar with the law and available process, for both professionalism and liability reasons. You can’t expect any and all libertarian lawyers to assist in an intervention on the spot with police departments when they have not been adequately prepared on these topics. Most lawyers would have no reason to have educated themselves on these topics, as there are few who regularly practice in areas dealing with First Amendment, civil rights, municipal law, etc. My point is that this type of assistance cannot be ad hoc, but must be prepared in advance.”

    Well then given that what I’m talking about effects whether or not Libertarian Party candidates and libertarian issues make the ballot or not, and given the added expense of doing last minute saves, don’t you think that it would benefit this party and movement if Libertarians who are trained and licensed attorney would do a little bit of homework on this issue so they can be of help when these situations arise?

    These type of situations that I’m talking about happen pretty much every time there is a petition drive. They have been a major factor in Libertarian Party petition drives failing.

    I know that the LNC has one lawyer on retainer, and I think that there is another lawyer who works at the LP national office. Couldn’t the party’s paid lawyers do something about these situations?

    Really, anyone in the LP who has a law degree could be of great help in these situations. I understand that law suits are a lot of work, but, as I said above, a lot of these problems can be resolved with a letter or phone call, or a letter and a phone call. It does not take a lot of work to do this. I’ve even got a couple of letters from the ACLU in regard to the right to gather petition signatures at college campuses. A Libertarian attorney could simply use these letters as templates, as in put them in their own words, and then fax them to a college whenever petition circulators get prevented from gathering signatures at a college. If the letter does not get the college administers to back down, then follow it up with a phone call. This does not always work, but it does work enough of the time to be beneficial.

  60. Andy

    “Nicholas Sarwark June 19, 2014 at 1:20 pm
    42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the section of the U.S. Code codifying a cause of action to sue governments for depriving someone of their civil rights. It allows someone to seek money damages and, if I recall correctly, attorney’s fees.”

    Yes, this is true. The only problem is that not everyone has the time or the know how to do what it would take to go through one of these law suits. This is especially difficult if one is a paid petition circulator who travels around the country for months at a time, or year round.

    I’ve seen home study courses advertised about how to sue the police. I thought about ordering one, but even if this worked, there is still the time and traveling factors that are hard to overcome.

  61. Andy

    Some of you may recognize the name and voice of the Libertarian petition circulator who made this call to the Chicago Transit Authority office, to complain about his being prevented from gathering Libertarian Party ballot access petition signatures on the subway platforms.

    Note that the CTA, or Chicago Transit Authority is a municipal corporation, as in it is a government corporation, and also note that it receives tax payer funding. Also, keep in mind that there is no law against speaking while standing on CTA platforms, as lots of people on the platforms regularly engage in conversations with other people who are riding on the CTA. The CTA was just targeting people for daring to ask people to sign state mandated ballot access petitions. If they had been talking about sports, or the weather, or movies, or restaurants, or music, or any other subject that the establishment does not see as a threat, it was OK, but because some people were asking other people to sign a petition to place Libertarian Party candidates on the ballot, these individuals were told that they could not speak about that, and that they had to leave or face arrest.

    Here is the first of one call that a Libertarian petition circulator (and the person who made this call is actually a real Libertarian petition circulator, and not a non-libertarian mercenary) made to the CTA about being denied the right to gather petition signatures there.

    Chicago Transit Authority vs. The Bill of Rights 001

  62. Andy

    “Nicholas Sarwark June 19, 2014 at 4:31 pm
    I was not aware Mr. Holbrook needed assistance or advice in this matter.

    He was released without charge, got an apology from the police for the improper arrest, and milked the free media to get out the message. I couldn’t have advised him to do anything different, and besides, he didn’t ask me.”

    He ought to file a civil rights law suit against the police officers, and the police officers ought to be fired, and ought to be prosecuted as well.

    Does Mr. Holbrook know how to file such a law suit? I don’t know, but odds are that there are Libertarians out there who are attorneys by profession who do know how to do this.

    Also, if such a proactive program to open up access to public locations for people who are gathering signatures on petitions or assisting people in registering to vote were launched by the Libertarian Party, then maybe incidents like the one that happened to Mr. Holbrook would not be as likely to occur.

    Do you agree or disagree that the Libertarian Party ought to launch a proactive program such as what I described above, to open up access for people working on ballot access drives, so that when the Libertarian Party has to do a ballot access drive, we will already have plenty of high foot traffic locations where petition signature gatherers can go to ask people to sign the petitions without being run out by the police or security guards or etc…?

  63. Andy

    The description below was posted for the first video.

    Chicago Transit Authority vs. The Bill Of Rights 001

    By Common Law

    Published on Jun 4, 2014

    Sophistry v. Political Philosophy:
    This call was to the number given to me by the jackbooted, badge-carrying, black fatigue-wearing CTA security guards. Of course, it’s not the right number –it’s the time-wasting number. Because, like Marc Stevens says, once you’re dealing with bureaucrats, you’ve already wasted your time, and have to begin “damage control.”

    312-681-3090 – This call gave me the Media and Relations Department number, and failed to clarify anything. However, I was asked for my information, which is standard procedure, in case they want to try to retaliate against someone who’s suing them.

    312-681-3173 This is the number for the CTA’s legal department given to me on this phone call. The NRA will need this number for when they finally (if ever) sue the CTA for denying citizens their right to carry firearms on the CTA. You see, the First Amendment isn’t the only individual right that’s denied on CTA property: they deny them all. As soon as you’re a traveler on CTA property, it’s their view that you surrender all of your rights at the turnstile.

    The PR Department (“Community Relations”) for the Chicago Transit Authority tries to explain to me why the First Amendment and my other constitutional rights don’t apply on “their” tax-financed property in the general waiting and boarding area. (They’ve said I can’t circulate a political nominating petition there, for the Libertarian Party, which the State requires to gather 5 times the number of signatures required by Democrats and Republicans.) They thereby defend a pathway to totalitarianism: by redefining the commons as “private property,” they can then claim that nobody has a right to do anything, anywhere, anytime. Whereas, I believe that the Bill of Rights applies to me, any time I am in public, or on my private property. They then speciously claim that I can petition on the portion of the private property that is outside the paid area (which doesn’t make sense from their stated viewpoint or from mine –because then I’d be an actual nuisance to the customers, and I wouldn’t even be able to succeed at getting signatures as people brushed me off to run to their trains). The real thing they’re trying to prevent, of course, is effective political speech. Not out of any strong principle, just a general preference for totalitarian “surplus order.” This tendency is common among Nazis, and the people who have been trying to imitate them, ever since they lost WWII.

  64. Andy

    Eric Blitz said: ” In many of these cases, it would be much more cost effective to just find another location than try to intervene.”

    Turning tail and running has been what petition circulators have been doing in far too many instances for many years. It really is not that cost effective when the petition circulator can not find another place to gather signatures, or they find another place that is much slower than the one where they got run out, therefore they can not collect as many signatures.

    Getting run out of high foot traffic public locations is one of the main things that causes petition drives to fail, or to run way over cost.

    The Libertarian Party spend how much money on the Oklahoma ballot access drive for 2012, including signature gathering expenses, photo copying expenses, fundraising expenses, and litigation expenses? I don’t know what the total price tag was, but it could have easily exceeded $200,000.

    The Libertarian Party of Oklahoma petition drive also FAILED, so it was basically $200,000 flushed down the drain. The LP did not even get much outreach out of it, because the vast majority of signatures were not even collected by Libertarians, they were collected by non-libertarian mercenaries (which is one of the reasons that drive failed).

    It is my opinion, backed up by facts, that the LP of OK petition drive for 2012 was mismanaged by the LP, and that if it was not for their mismanagement, that drive would have been successful, but even so, I’d be willing to bet that there were lots of petitioners who got run out of high foot traffic public access locations by the police, security guards, government bureaucrats, and store managers, and as badly managed as that drive was, I’d be willing to bet that if the petition circulators who had worked on it had been able to gain access to more locations with public foot traffic, that the LP would have qualified for the Oklahoma ballot.

    So tell me, is the trouble of sending a few letters and making a few phone calls to try to open up access to some locations where the public has access so people can ask other people to sign LP ballot access petition there worth it when the party has around $200,000 on the line, and when ballot access for Libertarian Party candidates is on the line?

    “I’m sure many lawyers could ‘wing it’ with a phone call with the responding officers, but the success rate will be low (the fact intensive nature of the issue favors the police officers, who can side-step facts/law with a directive to achieve the public peace).”

    I doubt that Ken Moellman’s lawyer friend who contacted that public library and that festival in a park in Kentucky, the result of which meant that Paul and I were able to return to those locations to collect signatures, specialized in 1st amendment issues. I don’t think that the Libertarian lawyer in Arizona who I mentioned who got Pima County Community College to back down so myself and another individual could collect voter registrations there specialized in the 1st amendment either.

    Trust me, “winging it,” works frequently enough to where it is something that the party should do more often.

  65. Chuck Moulton

    Letters and phone calls only work as long as the recipient believes the threat of litigation is genuine. If the attorney has no experience in the area or is called out and doesn’t follow through with a lawsuit, recipients will ignore the letters and phone calls.

    I think Eric nails it when he says pro bono clients don’t do a proper cost/benefit analysis because they shoulder none of the costs. Andy undervalues the value of an attorney’s time intervening relative to a petitioner’s opportunity cost of moving. So as great as it would be to have a support network of attorneys backing up petitioners, I suspect there would be significant moral hazard: petitioners will take more risk than they would if costs were internalized.

    A better model would be connecting libertarian lawyers with libertarian law students and having the law students do most of the work (with the work product supervised by the attorneys) — an online Libertarian law clinic. The advantage would be law students have a much lower opportunity cost of time, yet still could do useful research. I’m not sure what limitations there are on law students doing such work.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to the day Andy joins Twitter.

  66. Andy

    “Chuck Moulton June 20, 2014 at 3:30 am
    Letters and phone calls only work as long as the recipient believes the threat of litigation is genuine. If the attorney has no experience in the area or is called out and doesn’t follow through with a lawsuit, recipients will ignore the letters and phone calls.”

    I cited examples above of letters and phone calls working. I have seen other examples of letters and phone calls working which I did not mention above.

    I am not even a licensed attorney, and I have actually had some success with letters and phone calls that I’ve done myself.

    “I think Eric nails it when he says pro bono clients don’t do a proper cost/benefit analysis because they shoulder none of the costs. Andy undervalues the value of an attorney’s time intervening relative to a petitioner’s opportunity cost of moving.”

    This is not just about the petition circulator, it is about the success of the petition drive. Moving on to another location wastes lots of time, and sometimes another location can not be found, or whatever is found is slower, which means less signatures end up being collected than otherwise.

    This leads to LP petition drives FAILING to qualify for the ballot. Add up the costs from all of the LP petition drives that have failed over the years. I bet that it is a lot. Petition drives failing not only mean that the party wasted a lot of money, they also mean that Libertarian Party candidates do not appear on the ballot, and this is something that holds the party back from being more successful.

    Another factor here is the cost involved with doing last minute saves on petition drives, most of which would not be necessary if petition circulators did not get run out of high foot traffic public access locations. I gave an example above from Alabama in 2012, where the LP and the Gary Johnson campaign had to shell out thousands of extra dollars to bring in more petitioners to do a last minute save. This would not have been necessary if the petitioners who were already there had not been run out of several high foot traffic locations.

    One more factor is the unnecessary over-reliance on non-libertarian mercenary petitioners. If petition circulators were not run out of so many high foot traffic locations then more petition drives could be knocked out by smaller crews, which could consist of nothing but actual Libertarians, both paid and volunteer.

    I’d say that there is a very large cost involved in not doing anything, far more than the cost involved in Libertarian attorneys sending a few letters and making a few phone calls.

  67. Andy

    Chuck Moulton said: “A better model would be connecting libertarian lawyers with libertarian law students and having the law students do most of the work (with the work product supervised by the attorneys) — an online Libertarian law clinic. The advantage would be law students have a much lower opportunity cost of time, yet still could do useful research. I’m not sure what limitations there are on law students doing such work.”

    This is a very good idea. Let’s make it happen.

  68. Andy

    Chuck Moulton said: ” So as great as it would be to have a support network of attorneys backing up petitioners, I suspect there would be significant moral hazard: petitioners will take more risk than they would if costs were internalized.”

    Why should it be a “risk” for somebody to go out to a place where the public has access and ask people to sign a petition or register to vote? What is so “risky” about this? Who exactly is being damaged by this activity, and what damages did the victim(s) suffer?

  69. paulie

    Never mind attorneys, if ANY volunteers are available to help get locations – whether through the permission route, explaining our legal rights and law precedents, or whatever – it would make signatures less expensive to the proponent and cause fewer petitions to fail. It does not only work when there is a threat of a lawsuit, sometimes just mentioning prior court rulings is enough. I like the law students idea.

  70. Andy

    “paulie June 20, 2014 at 8:58 am
    Never mind attorneys, if ANY volunteers are available to help get locations – whether through the permission route, explaining our legal rights and law precedents, or whatever – it would make signatures less expensive to the proponent and cause fewer petitions to fail. It does not only work when there is a threat of a lawsuit, sometimes just mentioning prior court rulings is enough. I like the law students idea.”

    BINGO!

    Eric Blitz, Nicholas Sarwark, and Chuck Moulton are making this out to be more difficult than it really is. A lot of these petitioner access situations can be resolved through letters and/or phone calls. There has already been plenty of research done on these issues, and we encounter the same problems in every state in this country over and over again (in some states more than others). There are already letters written that Libertarian lawyers could just re-write in their own words, and the same letters could be used over and over again.

    Here is another example. When Paul and I were gathering petition signatures for the Libertarian Party in Arkansas last year, we both got hassled and threatened with arrest at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, and at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Fortunately, we got some help for the ACLU of Arkansas (note that we usually do not get any help from the ACLU, because the ACLU is usually backlogged with other cases). One of the ACLU attorneys faxed letters to Pulaski Technical College and the University of Central Arkansas, and this ACLU attorney followed up the letters with phone calls, and guess what, both of these colleges backed down and Paul and I were able to go back to those places and collect a lot of signatures. We got somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,600 signatures between those two colleges, which was about 10% of the signatures collected on that petition drive.

    During this same petition drive for the Libertarian Party of Arkansas last year, I drove out to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro by myself, and I ended up getting hassled and threatened with arrest. I talked to the administration, and after going back and forth with them, they said that I could stand in the university’s “free speech zones,” which I tried, and found to be in lower traffic places where I could not get as many signatures per hour as I had been able to get before the they hassled me. I told the ACLU attorney about it, and they wrote a letter to Arkansas State University, and they followed it up with a phone call, but unfortunately, the bureaucrats at Arkansas State University would not back down from their position, so this situation never got resolved. This wasted a lot of my time and caused me to get less signatures than I would have gotten otherwise. I’d love to see somebody go back to Arkansas State University with petitions and really push the issue, and sue them if necessary.

    Note that Paul and I and another Libertarian petitioner were able to gather petition signatures at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in 2011 and we did not get hassled at all. We also did not get hassled at Pulaski Technical College or the University of Central Arkansas in 2011 either.

    Anyway, a success rate of 2 out of 3 colleges that hassled us in Arkansas in 2013 with the ACLU is not bad. Like I said, we were able to get around 1,600 signatures between Pulaski Technical College and the University of Central Arkansas, which accounted for around 10% of the signatures collected on the 2013 LP ballot access drive in Arkansas.

  71. Andy

    “paulie June 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm
    True; sometimes a simple letter and/or call is all you need, other times it takes a lot more than that.”

    So given that this is the case, why isn’t anyone in the LP pursuing this action? This is one of the things that I’d prioritize the party to do if I were on the LNC or on a state committee (or at least one of the states where the LP has to do ballot access drive frequently).

  72. paulie

    I guess we just aren’t persuasive when it gets to making people do anything more strenuous than signing petitions.

  73. Andy

    “paulie June 21, 2014 at 9:22 am
    I guess we just aren’t persuasive when it gets to making people do anything more strenuous than signing petitions.”

    I think that the problem is that most Libertarians are so detached from the ballot access process, as in either they never go out and collect signatures themselves, or they just go out and collect a few signatures here and there, so they do not really know what is going on, and do not really care. A lot of them do not even understand why they should care.

  74. paulie

    I agree that more LP members should spend more time as volunteer petitioners. I am actually one of the top volunteer petitioners in the party, even though the vast majority of signatures I get are for pay. Even the tiny bit that I do without pay puts me ahead of almost everyone else.

  75. George Phillies

    Objective 1 rapidly becomes very complicated. For starters, the National Staff is barely able to keep up with its normal duties, even though the LNC spends a large fraction of its total income on administration and salaries. Also, the Presidential election year provides the maximum opportunity for all the other things the LNC tries to do.

    Objective 2 — The proposal that the LNC should have a systematic organization for ballot access, with internal knowledge rather than ‘call X’ for deadlines, etc, is excellent. More money on improving the law is excellent. What you do with this information varies state by state, and requires strategy state by state. Professional litigators are extremely expensive.

    Objective 3 — Press releases are fine, but not exactly modern. Advertising ‘vote Libertarian’ might be more to the point.

    Objective 4 is a data base. There already is one. There could be some improvements, such as deleting from the main list the dead people and the people who asked us to go away. Several legacy issues, such as the incomprehensible column headers and the exotic column order might be improved.

    Objective 5 has the difficulty that most professional fundraisers either work for other political parties, or are non profit fundraisers who work under unrelated conditions, i.e., the idea is not obviously workable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *