Libertarian Party of Michigan: Vice-Chair Alleges Biased Misconduct by Chair (Updated 12/19/15 with Response by Chair)

LPM_SymbolFrom a posting on the Libertarian Party of Livingston County and the Libertarian Party of Genesee County Facebook pages:

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.

Thank you.

Kimberly McCurry
LPM Chair

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.

Thank you.

Kimberly McCurry
LPM Chair

This entry was posted in Libertarian Party and tagged on by .

About Caryn Ann Harlos

Caryn Ann Harlos is a paralegal residing in Castle Rock, Colorado and presently serving as the Region 1 Representative on the Libertarian National Committee and is a candidate for LNC Secretary at the 2018 Libertarian Party Convention. Articles posted should NOT be considered the opinions of the LNC nor always those of Caryn Ann Harlos personally. Caryn Ann's goal is to provide information on items of interest and (sometimes) controversy about the Libertarian Party and minor parties in general not to necessarily endorse the contents.

14 thoughts on “Libertarian Party of Michigan: Vice-Chair Alleges Biased Misconduct by Chair (Updated 12/19/15 with Response by Chair)

  1. Dave Terry

    Vice-Chair Wood provided this statement:

    “I informed him that I couldn’t be more serious about my commitment to seeing a stateless society in my lifetime.”

    NOT FUNNY! I would put Mr. Wood in the same category as those imbeciles who anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ. They are demented and should NOT have a position of influence in the Libertarian Party….PERIOD!

  2. Matt Cholko

    Back to the Vice-Chairman’s election….how do they keep going with the same two choices ballot, after ballot, after ballot? I thought that in a case like this, the candidate’s name would not appear on the second ballot.

  3. Scotty Boman

    Here is what I know about the situation. Some individuals have hidden behind affiliate avatars to release the personal information about a woman who has been a victim of stalking. This was accompanied by crude sexist postings against this woman who is also the state chair.

    This behavior is rude and harmful to this organization, and it’s ability to resist tyranny. However, it is even more disturbing that affiliates must be discredited because a member or members lacks the courage to identify him or herself.

    I am Scott A Boman. I can stand by my words. Anyone who has something to say against somebody else should at least grow a pair and not cower behind the avatar of an affiliate.

    This followed a dispute that was misrepresented in the post quoted at the top of this article.

    Justin Burns was welcome to post any articles or opinions he wished, as himself. Chairwoman Kim McCurry only wanted to limit the content that was being posted as the “Libertarian Party of Michigan.” It is wholly appropriate for an organization to limit what is being presented publicly as being representative of the organization.

    I have had access to a variety of platforms within the party including the website itself. Often I find the need to hold back on my own opinions because I realize I am representing the opinions of a group. Even when the core of my opinions are in agreement with the party, I realize the manner in which an organization presents itself can effect public opinion. In politics, impressions are everything.

    As a long-time member, activist, candidate, and officer of the LPM I have been in similar situations. Sometimes I have been the too eager to sound off, other times I have been in the position of deciding what is to be a publicly stated opinion of the organization. These decisions are more difficult for Libertarians than for other political parties since we have a natural aversion to any restrictions whatsoever. This permissiveness has sometimes caused the Party to lose members or supporters who think a minority opinion, or proclamations made in the most offensive manner were representative of the whole organization. I don’t wish to imply this about the postings Mr. Burns made, I haven’t even read them (and I often enjoy reading what Jeff Wood writes). I simply wish to point out that there is a good reason to exercise editorial privilege and discretion when it comes to attaching a message to the Libertarian Party of Michigan brand.

    This exercise of editorial discretion isn’t going to make everyone happy. But this is not censorship, Justin was welcome to post whatever he wanted as himself. The one thing that is starkly different here then in any of my prior experiences, is the total lack of civility and common courtesy. The crude name-calling and the posting of personal information goes beyond anything I have seen in past in-fighting. In-fighting has been largely a matter to be settled discretely. In my past experience the people engaging in disputes were motivated by a desire to see the party do well, but only disagreed on how to go about it. For that reason, doing things that would make the party look bad to the public were avoided.

    There are legitimate arguments to be made for and against the Chair’s decision in this particular case. But it is her prerogative under the bylaws, and this would be a matter better decided at the next LEC meeting or via internal emails. Officers and staff should not be waiving around our dirty laundry, especially if they aren’t willing top take credit for their own words.

    This isn’t about free speech, but rather about accurate attribution, and the responsibility of our leadership to cast the Libertarian Party of Michigan in a positive light.

  4. paulie

    Here is what I know about the situation. Some individuals have hidden behind affiliate avatars to release the personal information about a woman who has been a victim of stalking. This was accompanied by crude sexist postings against this woman who is also the state chair.

    Sad to see party infighting taken to such levels.

  5. Jim F

    So it looks like too many folks are A.) Taking the internet too seriously and B.) Making themselves look foolish by having internal discussions in the open.

  6. Chuck Moulton

    Personal attacks and doxxing are completely inappropriate.

    I’ve seen the anarchist vs. moderate fight for control of messaging and social media play out in many state affiliates. The general trend I see is that anarchists produce content and moderates don’t. Therefore, whenever the moderates succeed in silencing the anarchists, I’ve witnessed press releases and social media go silent… after a few months people complain about lack of activity and the anarchists are begrudgingly given the keys again. Your mileage may vary.

  7. Leone

    Chuck, it is my understanding that nothing posted wasn’t published in Libertarian Party of Michigan calls to meetings, there was no “doxxing.”

  8. Dustin Reamer

    I’m still shocked at this backwards perspective that all these Libertarians can discuss my antics from the other day on the LPM Facebook in such a fascist way. I have been locked out of the page, I can’t post anything in defense of what I said or did. STOP censorship. STOP attacking other Libertarians for expressing their 1st amendment rights. No one yelled fire in a crowded room. I said offensive things to provoke a Dictator, in the hopes she would cave and put a stop to her over regulation of the LMP Face Book page. Kim McCurry is just further proving my point with ever action she takes.

  9. Todd Andrew Barnett

    Dustin:

    You posted Kim’s email address, her snail mail address, and her cell number all over the Libertarian Party of Michigan page and elsewhere. BTW, your name wasn’t even mentioned at all, and I even checked that as well.

    I screenshot your post on the Libertarian Party of Oakland County Facebook Page’s Holiday Party 2015 Page. I still have it. There is nothing controversial about what she’s done. Nothing dictatorial, nothing Facist, and nothing statist of the sort at all.

    You’re entitled to your opinions, not the facts.

  10. Caryn Ann Harlos Post author

    Chair McCurry kindly contacted me and asked that I update the above article with her response which I have done. I direct everyone’s attention to the response appended to the close of the article.

Leave a Reply

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