Yesterday [December 13, 2015] State Chairwoman Kimberly McCurry unilaterally removed LPLC Media Director Justin Burns from his position as editor of the LPM’s Facebook page. Her rationale for doing so was her dislike of LPLC Chairman Jeff Wood’s articles about liberty, which Mr. Burns was reposting. If you have a problem with her making this dictatorial decision without consulting the executive committee or the secretary team, please email her, call her, or send her a strongly worded letter.
[personal contact information removed] – The Officers page for the Libertarian Party of Michigan can be found here. Please note that Chair McCurry’s name was previously Moore.
All named parties above were contacted and asked for a statement.
Chair McCurry provided this statement:
We would simply like to say that at this time all we can comment on is that the matter is being looked into as private information has been released in violation the party rules.
Vice-Chair Wood provided this statement:
Where should I begin? If I go back to where this all started it’ll take forever, so let’s start somewhere more recent. The November meeting of the LPM’s executive committee.
It’s a 9 person committee, but in November we started with 8. The Vice-Chairman of the party, Karl Jackson, had recently resigned. When it came time to vote to replace him, I was nominated. I was the only one nominated.
When the votes were totaled, we had a tie. 4 votes for me, 4 votes for NOTA. We had to go to a second round of balloting. Same result. 3rd round, same result. 4th round, same result. It wasn’t until the fifth round of voting that one of the holdouts supporting nobody for Vice-Chairman finally caved and admitted that having an Anarchist for Vice-Chairman is probably better than nobody at all, so on the fifth round of voting I was elected Vice-Chairman in a 5-3 vote.
The members of the executive committee who, to their shame, voted 5 times against having a Vice-Chairman at all are:
Kimberly McCurry, Chairwoman
Jonathan Osment, Treasurer
Jason Brandenburg, At-large Director
But they lost, so who cares? I was more than happy to let bygones be bygones and continue moving forward and working together with them fruitfully.
I have been writing a series of articles, the first of which was published several days before the November executive committee meeting. The topic of these articles has been how we can move the LPM forward and make the party a force to be reckoned with. I have been writing them in a unique style, meant to inspire and provoke members into getting active.
The articles have been generally well received. They have been shared on several social media platforms, as well as being published by Independent Political Report (Thank you!). I did receive some criticisms from Jason Brandenburg, who feels that public discussion of Anarchism is bad for the party because it casts us in a less than serious light. I informed him that I couldn’t be more serious about my commitment to seeing a stateless society in my lifetime.
Last week, my good friend Justin Burns, who is another At-large Director of the LPM executive committee, as well as a member of the “secretary team” encharged with overseeing the party’s media relationships, informed me that he had received a text message from Mrs. McCurry which stated: “I think that it’s great that Jeff is posting articles, but you need to share content from other sources too.”
He did so, he posted several articles from other sources. Then this past Friday, I published a new article. Justin posted it on the LPM’s Facebook page as usual. Moments later, he received a notification that my article “Get Angry With Me” had been removed from the page and that he had been removed as an editor.
His response was to immediately text Kim. He asked her what she was doing removing him from the page when he had been appointed as an editor by the Secretary team. She responded that as Chairwoman, she could do whatever she wanted in between executive committee meetings. She then told Justin that he “had been warned”
Like I said, there is great deal of history behind this incident. Mrs. McCurry and others involved in the LPM’s leadership have a long track record of attempting to silence Anarchists within the party. I, for one, will no longer stand for it. If she doesn’t want to be part of a party that takes a firm anti-government stance, then she needs to resign from the Chair position, and go back to the Tea Party where she came from. She has demonstrated time and again that she wants to run the LPM as a dictatorship, and that she wants to establish a rigid hierarchy with herself at the top. She may pay lip service to libertarianism when it comes to public policy, but when push comes to shove she has clearly demonstrated that she is a staunch authoritarian.
The LPM deserves better leadership. The LPM deserves a Chairperson who will stand up against the bigots within this party who are hell bent on eradicating any vestige of Anarchist influence. The LPM deserves an executive committee that will work together to further the goal of achieving liberty in our lifetime, not a bunch of petty bureaucrats at each others throats over inconsequential minutiae.
I look forward to reading your thoughts on this unpleasant incident. My hope is that this issue can be resolved quickly, so that the LPM can move forward.
Jeff Wood, Vice-Chairman, LPM
Justin Burns, provided this statement (edited by request for grammar and flow):
The Libertarian Party of Michigan Facebook page as far as I know was edited by 3 people: Kim McCurry, the Libertarian Party of Michigan Chairwoman; Bradley,a young man currently petitioning for the Libertarian Party of Northeast Michigan to have an affiliate status with the state party and the appointed Media Director for the Libertarian Party of Michigan; and myself, Justin Burns, the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Genesee County and a Director-at-large on the Libertarian Party of Michigan’s Executive Committee.
All three of us regularly post various news articles, editorials, memes, personal opinions, and information that is closely related to libertarian ideas and politics. And of which each of us would independently decide to post. Recently the Libertarian Party of Michigan Vice-Chairman and State Party lifetime member Jeff Wood has been publishing articles related to libertarian ideas and politics on his website.
Personally I thought his articles were well written and intriguing. So I decided to post them on the Libertarian Party of Michigan Facebook page. For doing this chairwoman Kim McCurry unilaterally decided to remove me as an editor from the Facebook page. And yes, it was distinctly because I shared the links to the published articles that were authored by Jeff Wood. Two messages from her to myself can clearly prove this.
I can draw no other conclusion but that she appears to have a clear and present disdain for Jeff Wood. I and others I have spoke to can find no reason or justification for her dictatorial choice to censor.
Updated 12/19/15: Chair McCurry contacted this writer and provided the below response. It was requested that this be posted as an update to this article.
What is the Chair of an organization? The Chair is a term used to describe the position of the highest officer of an organized group. The person is typically voted into the role by the organization’s members to serve that group in the manner described in the organization’s bylaws.
The Libertarian Party of Michigan Bylaws state the responsibilities of the Chair:
Section III Officers, Clause 2: “The Chair shall preside at all meetings of the Executive Committee and at all conventions. The chair shall be the chief executive officer of the Party. In the absence of directives from the Executive Committee, the Chair shall have the authority to speak for, and to generally manage the affairs of, the Party. For purposes of Party representation at all National Libertarian Party conventions, the chair shall be a Michigan delegate and shall serve as head of the Michigan delegation.”
“In the absence of directives from the Executive Committee, the chair shall have the authority to speak for, and to generally manage the affairs of, the Party.”
This purposely gives the Chair authority to be sure day-to-day operations of the Party are in order. It also states explicitly the chair speaks for the Party.
When people voluntarily join a group with bylaws, they are voluntarily accepting these rules. Some rules may not be clearly defined, and there are ways to address them within the Party without taking action publicly.
It has been practice for Michigan that when anything goes out publically under the Party name, the Chair reviews them, as the entire Executive Committee is not available at all times every day. It is also practice that the Chair approves views expressed in the name of the Party to the Legislature and the Media.
The Facebook page of the Libertarian Party of Michigan was designed, as far as actual posts made by the page itself are concerned, to put forth views representative of the Party. To be clear, comments and discussion by followers of the page are a different matter. Everyone is free to express opinions.
When I was elected to the Chair in May of 2015, one of my goals was to have a Facebook presence (as far as posts authored by the page) that was balanced between the various sectors of libertarians; to educate our members about the issues; and to give a fed-up public a viable alternative to the two-party system. But if we’re only mainly sharing information from only a few other sources instead of many, why even have a page? Yes, we do want to share information from vast areas to say, ”These are like- minded people or pages, go check out them out”, but it’s not an easy balance to strike. (There have been instances I have requested our page manager to reword items to tone down the level of anger and to make things more “thinking-oriented.” In most cases, he complies; in others he brings down the tone a bit so we can compromise.)
During the past few years, the rift between a particular group of people and others has been growing, but the lines are not nearly as clear as it would seem. Even so, knowing there was angst, I did attempt to reach out to this group (which has now decided to identify as anarchists). I clearly told this group I wanted their influence represented so long as it was understood I would be reviewing posts and articles, along with the assistance from the Secretary team.
One way I backed that up was by placing one that was newly elected to the board onto the Media Committee as an editor on the Facebook page. It has been common practice that as part of day-to-day operations, appointments can, and have been, made by the Chair. Per Robert’s Rules this is allowed.
The majority of positions appointed for teams this year were not voted on (and can be seen as such by the minutes that no such votes were taken). This is primarily because people wanted to help, and help was needed, so appointments were made.
A few months later when our current page manager stepped down (as he began a new position to act simply an editor), I appointed our current Promoter of Liberty winner (due to his work on the Facebook page) and a Voluntaryist (a type of anarchist) as page manager.
As you were made aware in the last public article on this topic an officer of our party wrote a series of articles and the board member I had appointed in good faith began posting them to our page as the LPM. It is our job to promote the libertarian philosophy and the Libertarian Party, but not once in the first article were either even mentioned. However, it was posted on our page, making it appear as if it was promoted by the Libertarian Party of Michigan.
In addition, it was made to look as if he was our candidate for a congressional seat when we had not nominated anyone yet. I let this article go with a modification to make sure it did not specifically state he was the candidate. The article was not hateful, it was a single article, and there are anarchists in the party.
When a second article came out a few days later, it contained a slight ‘hit’ on the leadership of the Party. This post remains. It was not removed, as is alleged. I very well could have removed it, but I did not. I sent a text requesting these articles be moved to the “posts by others” section, as other party members and prior officers have done. This is in keeping with my goal of a balanced page; not posting too much from one segment of libertarians over others. I also stated the LPM page is not a blog.
Not once did I say not to post these articles at all. I simply requested the articles not be posted by the Party page all of the time. (NOTE: the quote in the article of allegations is incomplete as it left out the request to post as the person not the page). I never received a response.
A third article proceeded to be posted as the LPM, one that states that the government has no legitimate authority even though the national platform does give credence to authority where it is given. As soon as I had a chance, I sent an e-mail reiterating the fact that we were not a blog (not even all of the National Chair’s items are posted to the national page). I did not ban them from posting to the page as is alleged; I simply stated they cannot post articles about or authored by the author AS the page with any frequency. Had editor responded, it could have been clarified that an every-once-in-awhile post is fine. Instead, the response was another posted article, making it appear the LPM was espousing/supporting.
This is not about a person or a brand of person; rather, it’s about methodology. These were highly-opinionated articles being shared as views of the Party when, as stated above, the goal for outreach was balance.
In addition, it came to my attention afterward that these are campaign pieces. We will not be holding our nominating elections until May. Even if had the person been nominated already, the LPM posting these articles makes it appear at the very least that we as a Party are giving preferential treatment. In the case of Harry Brown, when someone on his campaign used Party resources to promote him, it was considered an unethical action to secure nomination, even if it was not the intent.
I reached out to the author of these posts more than once, and received no response. As it is my duty as Chair to pay attention to what is shared as the Party, and because I received no response, I had no option but to remove the editor from his position. Only then did I begin receiving responses/messages.
The proper course of action to handle this grievance would have been for the concerned parties to bring this up at the next Executive Committee Meeting or through the Judicial Committee, but he did not. It was taken public, along with my personal information (address, etc.). This should not have happened.
We are still reviewing the posting situation. There is a process to everything, and not everything can go everyone’s way all the time. But putting people at risk by publically sharing private information is not the answer, nor is making false allegations or misrepresentations.
Currently, the page manager has instructions to either request that future posts of this individual’s articles to the “shared by others” portion of the page, or if assistance is needed, to post as himself, not the page. Also, once a month an article may be shared to the timeline. We will also be working in more articles from the monthly newsletter and posts from our current candidates who are involved in active races.
I hope we can move beyond this with the understanding that no one was or is being censored; however we need to be sure that what is being posted as the Party is indeed by the Party. This is part of what I am directed to do as the LPM Chair.