Andy Craig: ‘Internet Troll Runs for President: The Sad, Strange Campaign of Austin Petersen’

apworst

Posted to
OldDominianLibertarian

March 27, 2016
By Andy Craig

One of the things Libertarians pride themselves on is that our nomination is a competitive and open process. Literally anybody can run for President, so long as they’re constitutionally eligible and a member of the party.

The downside of that is…. well: anybody can run for President.

anybody1

 This means that alongside the serious contenders to be the nominee, as well as sincere message-candidates aiming to shape the debate, we usually have a parade of delusional vanity campaigns trying to weasel their way into 15 minutes in the spotlight.

Typically, these candidates are harmless eccentrics, easily ignored by most in the party. Some years, however, there’s a candidate who manages to stand out… and not in a good way….

For those lucky enough to not know, Austin Wade Petersen (“three E’s” – he is very particular about that) is a 35-year-old resident of Missouri and, as we’ve previously described him, a “semi-professional Internet troll.” He briefly worked at the LNC HQ for a year during the Bob Barr campaign, had an unsuccessful foray into film production, and currently prefers to describe himself as the “founder” of a clickbait site so infested with pop-up ads and malware I won’t even bother to link to it here.

Running on zero relevant experience, Mr. Petersen’s main campaign issue, if you could even call it that, has been picking a fight with the radicals in the party over his condemnation of the “non-aggression principle,” which he derides as “pacifist anarchism.” There is, granted, a more intelligent conversation to potentially be had about the role of the N.A.P. in the Libertarian Party, but he doesn’t offer it.

Even Ron Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy has come under fire from him as “sound[ing] like he hates America” and “a Soviet apologist,” while he also promises that “the [LP] platform will change in 2016 with me at its head.”

Beyond any substantive issue positions (which he’s pretty skimpy on), Austin’s campaign is based on open emulation of Donald Trump’s tactics: lie, insult, smear, be outrageously childish, and then when people object, ride the wave of negative attention. Except that unlike Trump, Austin is neither rich nor famous nor raking in large amounts of free media coverage. Still, here’s a representative sampling of the things you’ll see this self-proclaimed presidential candidate saying on social media, where he spends almost all of his time:

“I don’t take crap from losers like you.”

“You tubby piece of sh*t, you couldn’t even approach 1/4 of the pyramid of pu**y that I swim in on a regular basis. It’s because I have class, motherf***er!”

“Suck it up, buttercup.”

“low testosterone, as evidenced by his spindly frame.”

“lol. neckbeard!”

“If I wanted your opinion I would ask for it. Otherwise cram it.”

And that’s what he has to say to voters and Libertarians and interviewers! When it comes to other candidates, Steve Kerbel is “sleaze”and “the lowest of the low,” while John McAfee is “a drug addict.”

The main target of his vitriol, of course, has been the presumptive nomineeGov. Gary Johnson, whom Austin has attacked as “a low-energy drug dealer.”  The Chair of the Libertarian National Committee has fared no better, with Petersen posting Nicholas Sarwark’s personal cell phone number and encouraging people to call and complain during dinner, because the party accurately reported that Austin lost his home state to “uncommitted” in the Missouri primary.

Please finish reading here

74 thoughts on “Andy Craig: ‘Internet Troll Runs for President: The Sad, Strange Campaign of Austin Petersen’

  1. langa

    Aside from the insinuations that Johnson has the nomination in the bag, I can’t find anything here to disagree with. Honestly, I’m shocked that Petersen has been able to maintain his tenuous grip on third place. It’s kind of embarrassing that he hasn’t been laughed out of the proverbial building by this point.

  2. Andy Craig

    So this is how I get pulled back into IPR? (just for the record as an aside, I won’t be contributing myself for the foreseeable future, nor probably commenting, but I guess I have to make an exception for this one. That didn’t last long). 8^p

    Point of clarification: “pangloss” is just the account name wordpress pulled. I did of course write this, no denying that or any attempt to hide it.

    So far as “presumptive nominee.”— I wouldn’t really say that myself necessarily, the reference was to AWP complaining that the media has been using the term. That’s what the link was to. I guess I could have put that in quotes.

    Anyway… regularly scheduled chattering may now resume. 😉

  3. Shivany Lane

    Wow – we have a mini-Trump? just not as wealthy, or skilled in naughty words, or bombastic.

    For the record, I have an issue with “presumptive nominee”.

    I didn’t think the primaries count and as far as I know, we still do vote at the national convention, right? California hasn’t even had it’s state convention. Maybe our votes don’t matter? Are we no better than any other party where a few at the top decide?

    Presuming a nominee for President who has yet to actually file his paperwork with the FEC for President seems a bit like putting the cart before the horse, doesn’t it?

  4. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Thanks for clarifying, Andy . I did send you a FB message asking if I could identify you. Since the blog article used “pangloss”, I thought it was worth asking.

  5. Caryn Ann Harlos

    The article lists only the tip of the iceberg as to his abusiveness. Its like libertarianism meets Tourette.

  6. robert capozzi

    “Presumptive” seems a bit overstated, but it surely depends on the presumer. GJ was, after all, the nominee the last time, and has the resume, and set the vote total record, such as it was.

    I’ve been presuming it’ll be GJ again, but it’s certainly not in the bag.

    GJ himself has been if anything overstating his competition in the media clips I’ve seen, quick to not assume he has the nomination wrapped up. He comes across as a pretty humble dude, generally, on such matters.

  7. Wes Wagner

    Petersen specifically hitched his wagon to Burke here in Oregon, refuses to even have conversations with our state chairperson, and generally appears to be a adjunct member/puppet of the SCM cabal.

    The “debate” hosted by the PAC was likely setup primarily to provide exposure for Petersen. This does not surprise me that Burke would ally with him… given the seeming SCM connections appearing and that Burke doesn’t mind misogynists — given his history with women and allegations of sexual harassment, impropriety and simple use-and-discard past with interns at the D.C. office.

  8. Shawna Joy Sterling Libertarian Presidential Candidate

    Austin Petersen is aggressively making backroom deals with state delegates.

    Petersen is giving them titles, such as: “Administrative Coordinator” for the area they represent, in exchange for the delegate’s vote or signed token at the 2016 LP National Convention in Florida.

    The fact that Petersen is giving positions in his campaign, in exchange for delegate votes could be considered an inducement/bribe.

    If his backroom deals involve paying these Administrative Coordinators and others who are getting these titles at any point in his campaign, then Petersen is using major inducement to get delegate votes at the 2016 LPNC.

  9. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    It seems that if Austin is doing that, that he’s trying to run a serious campaign. I don’t get it. If he seriously wants to be our candidate, why doesn’t he exhibit basic courtesy to those of us who could vote for him? I’m been convinced that he’s only doing this for publicity or just for an ego boost, but “backroom deals” baffles me.

  10. Michael H. Wilson

    I was surprised that the Oregon debate even happened. It seemed a long ways to fly and an expensive flight as well since neither Oregon or Washington will have that many delegates at the national convention in Orlando. I think it would have been wiser to be attending bar-barbecues with groups more likely to attend.

  11. ATBAFT

    I had lunch today with a member of the Connecticut House. He is very upset about the presumptive GOP nominee. I suggested he might want to consider Gary Johnson. He was kind of impressed with GJ’s credentials. I can just imagine what he would have thought of the LP if I told him about this loon.

  12. Thomas Knapp

    Say what you will about Petersen, he appears to be able to balance a checkbook, spend less than he takes in, not spend it all on “campaign consultants,” not spend himself seven figures into debt then lie to the LP about it … you know, all the sort of basic baseline honesty and competence stuff that appears to remain beyond Johnson’s abilities.

  13. George Phillies

    If Petersen if offering people titles for votes, he is definitely not the first of our Presidential candidates to do so.

    On the other hand, if he is trying to recruit a campaign team, he is months and months late as to when he should have started..

  14. Shawna Joy Sterling Libertarian Presidential Candidate

    Jill –

    West stated, “Petersen specifically hitched his wagon to Burke here in Oregon, refuses to even have conversations with our state chairperson”

    I witnessed similar alliances and I’m aware of others. Running a serious campaign is one thing.

    What Petersen is trying to do is divide and conquer the LP.

    George, Petersen has his campaign team. He’s doing the other to give something to delegates who will vote for him at the LPNC.

    I don’t know what his motives are at this point, I’m just watching what he is doing and witnessing how it has brought some division between state party members.

    Tony just contacted me concerning this and I told him that maybe he’s not aware of what’s going on. I’ve met Tony several times and he seems very friendly. I just don’t like Petersen because I saw him use aggression against the Colorado party and I saw how he treated Caryn in CO.

    Hey if they are all just building a campaign great, no problems then right?

  15. Jeff

    Andy, I agree with you. After Austin personally commented on FB about the physical appearance of other candidates for the LP nomination, I was lambasted by one of his troll army for misspelling his name as “Peterson”. I asked Austin 3E’s directly if his campaign was based on making comments about the appearance of others and his troll army went to work on me – accusing me of using a fake FB profile. I asked repeated for members of his troll army why I should support Austin 3E’s but got nothing substantive in response. Not the way to attract more people to his camp.

  16. Steven Wilson

    Austin is the David Cobb or Bob Barr or Wayne Root of the LP. His maturation level is sophomoric and belittles everyone else running for the LP nomination. It also affects the LP members and leadership.

    1. He is divisive, therefore he will not build the LP
    2. He is redefining basic Libertarian ideals, therefore he is building the Austin LP just like Root did to the LP, and Cobb did the Green, and Buchanan did the Reform.
    3. He is burning bridges, therefore attempting to grow anything on the scorched earth he has left behind will be his legacy.

    Regardless of your own stake in the LP, you must admit that there are some who want entertainment with their meal. That entertainment may be juvenile or pathetic, but if it can happen to the republicans with Trump, why can’t it happen with the LP and Austin?

    I think many who post or comment here give the convention goers far too much credit for being researchers or soldiers of Individual sovereignty. Your biggest mistake is that many of you project your passion and fever for character truth propositions upon everyone else, and if they don’t match your own, then you have lines drawn in the sand.

    In the upcoming debate with Stossel, do you really expect him to question Gary Johnson on his campaign ledger on national TV? Do you expect Stossel to question Austin’s language and treatment of others on social media or his total lack of experience in anything pertaining to public service or private sector achievement? Do you think Stossel is going to ask McAfee about sexual intercourse with sixteen year old Belize girls on national TV? If Steve Kerbel was on the debate stage, would John ask about the current insurance fraud clouds lingering over him? Would Stossel ask Perry about why he is running for the LP nomination when he has already started another party in New Hampshire?

    I serve as an LP committeemen in my county, and the attitude towards Libertarians has always remained the same: the LP was born to self-destruct. Many people like or even love our ideas, but they cannot stand the people we pick who deliver those ideas.

    John Stossel has already picked Gary Johnson. The polling is telling the others to go home. At the National Convention, those in attendance will not seek out candidates of character, because the LP has no tradition of doing so.

    Cue words like name recognition and polling numbers will rule the moment.

    Austin Petersen is just another example of why the party system does not work. The abstraction can be fooled over and over again.

  17. Thomas Knapp

    “John Stossel has already picked Gary Johnson. The polling is telling the others to go home. At the National Convention, those in attendance will not seek out candidates of character, because the LP has no tradition of doing so.”

    You may be right. I guess we’ll see. It may be that the LP will have to hit bottom before most of its delegates admit they have a problem.

  18. Shawna Joy Sterling Libertarian Presidential Candidate

    On 3/29/2016, Justin Lee Myers contacted me and argued that my 3/28/2016 15:37 comment implied I was referring to all delegates supporting Petersen.

    Here is Justin’s statement, “Except you implied he was doing it for all delegates, of which I am one.”

    Justin I officially amend my comment to state, that I am not implying that Petersen is using incentives including titles and positions to induce “ALL” delegates.

  19. NewFederalist

    “It may be that the LP will have to hit bottom before most of its delegates admit they have a problem.” – Thomas Knapp

    How will anyone know when the bottom is in? Who will tell the delegates the party has hit rock bottom? What will it take? I would like to know.

  20. Pingback: #AP4WIKI: Internet Troll Blames Conspiracy for Wikipedia Policy | The Old Dominion Libertarian

  21. Thomas Knapp

    Good question, NewFed. I wish I knew the answer. I’m assuming that it will be ugly and include a number of factors such as:

    – continued plunges in dues-paying supporters toward the 5k level;
    – inability to fund presidential ballot access at anything close to prior levels;
    – sale of or mortgage default on the DC office;
    – placing 4th rather than third in a presidential race with no “celebrity candidate is running” as an excuse (a distinct possibility this year, assuming that Sanders is not the Democratic nominee).
    – plunging national convention delegate numbers and inability to sustain the posh convention venue habit.

    Stuff like that.

  22. Shawn Levasseur

    Steven Wilson: “At the National Convention, those in attendance will not seek out candidates of character, because the LP has no tradition of doing so.”

    Seeking out candidates for the presidential nomination is something that shouldn’t be happening AT the national convention, it should happen long beforehand. The convention have the final chapters of the nomination process, not the entirety of it.

    Yes, it would be nice to have more quality candidates out there running for the nomination. Markets work better when there’s some decent competition. I may not be as down on all the current candidates (and presumably) as Steve seems to be, but I hope that we can improve the field quality in the future, none the less.

    Steven: “In the upcoming debate with Stossel, do you really expect him to…” (make pointed questions on candidates campaign procedures and/or personal traits)

    Given that Stossel is aiming to an audience beyond just the LP members (Fox Business News has low enough ratings without limiting the audience even more) I presume that he’ll be asking questions that will show how the various candidates would take on their general election foes, and issues of broader interest.

    I don’t take that as there being a “fix” in, just a choice in focus. But, we’ll see soon enough how it goes.

  23. Nicholas Sarwark

    – continued plunges in dues-paying supporters toward the 5k level;
    – inability to fund presidential ballot access at anything close to prior levels;
    – sale of or mortgage default on the DC office;
    – placing 4th rather than third in a presidential race with no “celebrity candidate is running” as an excuse (a distinct possibility this year, assuming that Sanders is not the Democratic nominee).
    – plunging national convention delegate numbers and inability to sustain the posh convention venue habit.

    Dues-paying supporters are going back up, ballot access is likely to be at the highest number of states since 2000, the office mortgage is manageable and we’re paying down principal faster than the amortization requires, we’re likely to have the best vote totals in 2016 regardless of candidate, and convention registrations are ahead of all of the previous years I have data for.

    Remember, bad campaigns last for seven months, the Libertarian Party is forever.

  24. #AP4Wiki

    “Meanwhile, Tony’s troll army is going against our ODLRN co-host with what they tried against Nick Sarwark: dox a phone number and then fill up the voicemail with people calling and hanging up. In Joe’s case, it was the landline phone number for his band that got one angry voicemail followed by somebody calling over and over again and hanging up.”

    https://olddominionlibertarian.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/ap4wiki-internet-troll-blames-conspiracy-for-wikipedia-policy/

  25. Thomas Knapp

    Nick,

    Then I guess the LP is not about to hit bottom and there will be a few more years of e.g. dragging it to the shower, hosing off the vomit, and imploring it to enter rehab.

  26. Pingback: Andy Craig: ‘#AP4Wiki: Internet Troll Blames Conspiracy for Wikipedia Policy’ | Independent Political Report

  27. George Phillies

    ” placing 4th rather than third in a presidential race with no “celebrity candidate is running” ”

    I’m sorry, to whom else will we lose? The one case comes to mind is the Clinton-Trump-Romney multiway. Otherwise, losing down to fourth will be challenging.

  28. Pingback: ODLRN discusses Andy Craig’s “Internet troll Runs for President” article about Austin Petersen | American Third Party Report

  29. Andy

    Nicholas Sarwark said: “Dues-paying supporters are going back up, ballot access is likely to be at the highest number of states since 2000, the office mortgage is manageable and we’re paying down principal faster than the amortization requires, we’re likely to have the best vote totals in 2016 regardless of candidate, and convention registrations are ahead of all of the previous years I have data for.”

    Hopefully this ends up being a good year for the Libertarian Party.

  30. Andy

    Thomas Knapp said: “You may be right. I guess we’ll see. It may be that the LP will have to hit bottom before most of its delegates admit they have a problem.”

    The question here is has the party already hit bottom, and now we are bouncing back up, or are we going to head down further?

    It is my belief that the party could be and should be a lot more successful than it is right now. The party has clearly gone downhill by a lot of measures over the last 15 years.

    I don’t think that we could realistically elect someone President, but I think that we could get a Ralph Nader 2000 or Ross Perot 1996 (NOT Ross Perot 1992) level vote in a presidential race. I don’t think that we could elect anyone to the offices of Governor or US Senate, but I do think that we could elect people to seats in state legislatures, and to county offices, like Sheriff (in a low population county), and if we had the right candidate in the right race, we MIGHT be able to elect somebody to US House, but perhaps this is pushing it.

    I don’t think that we can take over any state any time soon, but I do think that we could take over a low population city/town or county.

    I don’t think that we can get any of our more “radical” views passed at the state or local level (except maybe if we used the initiative process we MIGHT stand a chance), but I do think that we can point a lot of people in the right philosophical direction, and I think that by promoting issues like jury nullification we could make it a lot more difficult for the government to convict people of victimless crimes.

    My vision for the Libertarian Party is that it should be “at the tip of the spear” in the freedom movement.

  31. Andy

    Questions for Andy Craig: I agree with you that Austin Petersen should not be our party’s candidate for President. Since you are supporting Gary Johnson, what is your opinion of his campaign debt from 2012, which Tom Knapp and some others here have posted about in multiple threads here? Do you think that Gary Johnson owes the money, and if so, should he pay these debts? Do you agree or disagree with Tom Knapp, that Gary Johnson concealed the true amount of his campaign debt prior to the 2012 national convention? Should Gary Johnson still be nominated as the LP’s candidate for President if he has not paid his campaign debts from 2012, and if so, should the first $1.4 million that his campaign raises if he wins the nomination this year go toward 2012 debt repayment? Should Gary Johnson be held personally responsible for this debt, as in if he does not raise enough money to pay off the debt, should he pay it off out of his own pocket?

  32. P.J. Sullivan

    Aren’t all presidential candidates “self-proclaimed”?

    Also: “Austin Wade Petersen (‘three E’s’ — he is very particular about that)”: Isn’t it reasonable that he wants his name spelled correctly?

  33. Thomas L. Knapp

    “I’m sorry, to whom else will we lose? The one case comes to mind is the Clinton-Trump-Romney multiway. Otherwise, losing down to fourth will be challenging.”

    If Bernie Sanders is not the Democratic nominee, Jill Stein will almost certainly place third in November.

    That’s even more likely if we nominate a candidate who’s already seven figures in debt, who’s still spending most of what he raises on the care and feeding of “consultants” instead of on anything resembling a real campaign, and who’s about as exciting as watching paint dry except when he’s having a mouth-foaming fit over TEH MOOOZLIMS.

  34. Thomas L. Knapp

    Above, I wrote:

    “If Bernie Sanders is not the Democratic nominee, Jill Stein will almost certainly place third in November.”

    That’s assuming there’s not also an independent/third party run by Trump if he’s not the GOP nominee, or by an establishment Republican if he is. In THAT case, then Stein would presumably come in fourth and the LP candidate fifth.

  35. Andy

    I could see Bernie Sanders voters crossing over and voting for Jill Stein in November, assuming Sanders is not the Democratic Party nominee, but even so, the Libertarian Party is going into this election with a big lead over the Greens, so if we end up losing to the Greens in November, we should all hang our heads in shame.

  36. Andy

    Remember that the Greens are way behind the LP in ballot access, and the GP National Convention is not until August, which could hurt their fundraising and ballot access efforts.

  37. robert capozzi

    Hard to know how the also-rans do in November. My sense is that if the Greens nominated a “name,” they might do better than the Ls, if they can draft off the BS campaign. JS is not a name, so I find it unlikely, unless the Ls also nominate a no-name.

    Of course, a few hundred thousand votes one way or the other is statistical dust.

  38. NewFederalist

    Andy at 23:40 of 29 March… Wow! This is THE most lucid and reasonable post you have ever done here at IPR in my opinion! I agree with your analysis.

  39. Thomas L. Knapp

    It’s true that the Greens are behind in ballot access.

    And it’s true that their convention is not until August.

    However, Stein looks pretty well set to be the nominee — more likely than, say, Johnson on the LP side.

    Consider this:

    In 2012, about 2 million Americans voted for Ron Paul in his party’s presidential primaries.

    Sanders has already far surpassed that total — he got nearly a million votes in Illinois alone — and there are still quite a few primaries to go. In fact, I predict he will get more primary votes in California than Paul got all together.

    If he doesn’t endorse anyone — just keeps his mouth shut and pointedly declines to urge his supporters to vote for Clinton — Stein will probably knock down 2-3 million votes.

    If he endorses Stein, probably 5 million or more votes.

    Yes, ballot access is a problem. But a lot of states allow candidates to register as write-ins and have their votes counted, and the Sanders supporters who go for Stein are not casual voters — they WILL make the effort to write in.

    I don’t foresee any circumstance under which any likely LP nominee comes close to either of those figures.

  40. George Phillies

    Sanders may endorse Clinton.
    Stein may well do better. Johnson if we nominate him, will probably do worse. Switching places is plausible.

    2012
    Johnson 1,275,923
    Stein 469,015

    2008
    Barr 523,433
    Nader(I) 739,278
    McKinney(Green) 161,870

  41. George Phillies

    Information on Presidential Campaign Spending

    From where did I get my information? Most of it came from the Federal Election Commission, largely through campaign spending reports, but part of the information came from the FEC audit of the Johnson campaign.

    Our main information source is FEC Form 3P, the Report of Receipts and Disbursements by an Authorized Committee of a Candidate for the Office of President or Vice President. Each candidate committee files this form with the FEC on a regular basis as fixed by law. If you want to see one, go to http://fec.gov/finance/disclosure/candcmte_info.shtml and type in “Gary Johnson 2012” as the search target. You will see a list of filings ordered by date, available in PDF and HTML formats and as a downloadable spreadsheet. The PDF file looks the most like a form that someone has filled out. The different file formats do not disagree with each other, but sometimes one format will show additional information not readily extracted from the others.

    Candidates for President are required to pass their campaign spending through a campaign committee. The campaign committees are then legally required to file, with the Federal Election Commission, a series of statements revealing where their money came from, and how it was spent. Each statement has several Summary Pages, following which are a set of Schedules A, B, C, D,…, that give the details summarized in the front pages. Schedule A shows each donor of more than $200, his or her name and address, and often occupation and employer. Schedule B shows where the money went, listing the destination, amount, and purpose of the spending. Schedule D shows the debts of the campaign, to whom the money is owed, how much, and why. The seldom-used Schedule C would list groups that owed that candidate’s campaign committee money. There are other Schedules for special purposes; we won’t encounter any of them here.

    When must filings be made? Each filing covers a specified time period. Initial filings are required to be filed by 20 to 30 days after the end of the period covered in the filing. The filing covering, for example, February can only be made after February is over and must be made by March 20. The FEC gives these filings names; the names are the months in which the filings are required to be made. For example, the filing covering February is filed in March and is therefore referred to by the FEC as the “March” filing. In off-years, under different circumstances filings may be made on a monthly or quarterly basis. In election years, filings are generally required to be made on a monthly basis, except that near election day the schedule becomes irregular. Instead of three filings covering October, November, and December, respectively, one has a filing covering the first 17 or so days of October, a filing extending from October 18 out to several weeks after election day, and a last filing, the End-of-Year filing, covering perhaps the last few days of November and all of December.

    There are also amended disclosures. What are amended disclosures? Occasionally it is recognized that campaign finance disclosures contained errors, in which case the campaign must fix them by filing an amended disclosure. The amended disclosure covers the same dates as the original disclosure, but has new and more accurate information.

    It should be emphasized that there is nothing wrong with making an occasional amended disclosure. Even careful proofreading may fail to catch a pair of transposed digits or an anomaly in the final computer file generation.

    The Johnson Campaign made extensive use of amended disclosures. The campaign submitted campaign finance disclosures on time in the expected months. Then, in February 2013, after the election was over, it submitted a full set of amended disclosures, covering everything it had done from its first filing to date. In February 2015 the Johnson campaign submitted a second set of amended disclosures, again replacing everything it had previously reported. The new information in the amended disclosures involved large amounts of money. There can thus be three or more different campaign filings referring to the same period. At this point, it becomes important to discuss ‘what did donors think they knew, and when did they think they knew it?’ We will discuss these issues later.

    By contrast the Barr campaign filings were quite cleanly done. Our analysis stays with his original filings.
    In some places, Form 3P entries can be obscure. For example, a $300,000 obligation appears in the Johnson 2012 record, having been incurred at the time of the 2012 Libertarian National Convention. That obligation turns out to be a win bonus payment to NS0N, the campaign’s political consultant firm, payable because Johnson won the Libertarian presidential nomination. We only know the meaning of the obligation because the FEC audit of the Johnson campaign mentions why the payment was made. The $300,000 obligation, incidentally, is only found in the second set of amended disclosures. Until the 2014 audit, there was no clear indication that the Johnson campaign had obligated a $300,000 bonus to the campaign firm, as a reward for getting Johnson the nomination.

    In following the discussion here, keep in mind that FEC filings are based on actual cash flow, not on the so-called “Generally-Accepted Accounting Principles” (GAAP). All income is recorded when received; all spending is recorded when the bills are paid. In particular, a reliable check that an FEC filing has been completed correctly is that the computed cash on hand at the end of the month agrees with the bank statement.

    In following these reports, four general groups of cash flows are occurring:

    First and least, there is net money in or out of the bank account over the course of the month, corresponding to income from prior months being spent on current activities. The cash on hand of this political campaign was usually quite small, so the effect of saving or spending down cash reserves was not substantial.

    Second and most substantial, there are debts and obligations. Activities are performed in exchange for a promise of future payment. The FEC filings are supposed to generate a current and complete list of all debts and obligations owed by the campaign, for what the debt is owed, and when it was paid off.

    Third, part of current income is spent to pay for current activities, for example, credit card processing fees. For the Johnson campaign, some of this current spending appears directly on Schedule B as a disbursement, but much of this current spending was channeled through the Johnson campaign’s campaign consultants, which did business as “NS0N” and as “Political Advisors”. Current spending through the consultants appears on schedule B as a disbursement to the consultants and on Schedule D as payment of a debt for an invoiced list of expenditures, e.g., printing. We identify this as current spending because payment is being made on an invoice made in the current month.

    Fourth, part of current income was used to discharge old loans, so that, e.g., we find spending in Summer 2012 being used to pay for activities that were performed in Summer 2011, on which the performers had been waiting for payment.

    Each FEC filing includes a financial summary. One of its lines is “Total Disbursements”. The disbursements for the month cover the third and fourth items above, that is, spending on current activities and spending to pay down old loans.

    However, it is equally interesting to ask what campaign activities were performed during a given month. Those activities correspond to the third and second entries above, namely actual spending on current activities and any new debts and obligations that were created during the period. The “total disbursements” line and the “campaign activities” total will only match if the campaign has no debts, which was very decidedly not the situation here.

    A few remarks on reading FEC filings: In reading the filings, there is a “a detailed summary of receipts and disbursements” that includes a column for cumulative totals. The cumulative totals are computed separately for each “election cycle”. In FEC terms of art an election cycle starts, with all cumulative totals re-zeroed, with the end-of year filing covering from late November to the end of December of each even-numbered year, and filed with the FEC as the “January” report of the next year. The election cycle ends with the “Post-General” election filing, filed every even year and covering the period from mid-October to late November.

    When the FEC software processes electronic submissions from a campaign, it assigns a financial line number to each campaign debt. That number stays with the debt until the debt is paid. For example, in the following, line #47219 was a debt created in September 2012 and partly discharged in October 2012. So long as that debt persists it will have the same line number #47219 in the FEC reports. More recent line numbers are larger, with ‘recent’ referring to the date on which the line was generated, not to the date of the report. Thus, for example, the April-June 2011 report began with such line numbers as #4173. The 2015 amended filing for April-June 2011, generated four years more recently, identified new debts, these having line numbers such as #47821. Each line number also has a prefix, identifying the type of entry being made. We replaced all these prefixes with a pound sign #.

    Given the amount of money involved, we have simply truncated all dollar values.

  42. George Phillies

    You may correctly infer that some of Andy’s intelligent questions about the Johnson campaign are going to be answered.

  43. Andy

    Tom, the Green Party is so far behind on ballot access that they will likely not make it on the ballot in several states where the LP will be on the ballot. Yes, there are write in votes, but a lot of people will not even know who Jill Stein is.

    Even though Sanders is closer to the Green Party than to the Libertarian Party, the LP actually could pick up some of Sanders voters who just want to vote for somebody who is “anti-establishment”.

    Also, do not be surprised if Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton.

  44. Andy

    Even if Sanders does not endorse Clinton, the fact remains that a lot of Sanders supporters do not know who Jill Stein is, so I doubt she will get that big of a bump, unless Bernie Sanders outright endorses her.

  45. Thomas L. Knapp

    Google Trends says that Stein is doing a pretty good job of keeping up with Johnson already this year, and that’s with nearly all the “third party” attention so far going to the LP. Watch what happens when Clinton passes the delegate majority threshold.

  46. Prefer Not To Say

    If you don’t like Petersen, then be damned sure you
    1) register as a delegate
    2) show up in Orlando, and
    3) vote for McAfee, Johnson, Perry, or Feldman.
    Libertarians often have a problem with making it to the vote. The vote decides.

    FWIW: Johnson had the opportunity to make New Mexico 100% free by educating the public about jury rights. He also could have pardoned thousands of victimless non-crime “offenders.” He didn’t do those things, and so I’ll be voting for McAfee.

  47. Gene Berkman

    Sen. Bernie Sanders has on numerous occasions stated that he would support the Democrat nominee for President in November. He has supported the Democrat nominee in every election for President since 1984. Yes, there will be many progressives who don’t want to vote for Hilary, so Jill Stein might pick up a couple hundred thousand votes, but she does not have the name recognition, credentials or financial backing to go beyond that.

    In 2012 most of the campaign in support of Gary Johnson was undertaken by independent PACs and local libertarian groups. The money Gary Johnson pays to consultants goes to more than “consulting” – i.e. telling him how to campaign. A campaign company will list itself as consultants, but undertake other work including arranging media interviews and other basic work. Gary Johnson has already been profiled in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other media sources that have never before paid this much attention to The Libertarian Party.

    Yes, Gary’s old campaign debts are an ethical issue. But not an uncommon practice. After his 1984 campaign, Gary Hart paid his creditors 6 cents on the dollar. After his 1980 campaign, Ted Kennedy left many vendors high and dry. People who sell goods and services to candidates are aware of this practice.

    When I lived in Austin, I had a book shop next to the only union print shop in Texas. The printer did most of his business printing bumperstickers and campaign literature for Democrats who wanted the union bug on their campaign materials. The printer had a sign over the front desk that said: “All printing must be paid for in advance. Cash only, no checks.” As a result, he ran a profitable operation.

    If you don’t like Gary Johnson, don’t contribute to his campaign. But it is way over the top to say, as TK has said, that Gary Johnson is more fiscally irresponsible than Hilary Clinton, who has gladly voted for big spending projects including the Iraq War. That one vote alone has cost American’s trillions of dollars, as compared to the 1.4 million dollars that people claim is the campaign debt from Gary Johnson’s last campaign.

  48. langa

    Yes, Gary’s old campaign debts are an ethical issue. But not an uncommon practice. After his 1984 campaign, Gary Hart paid his creditors 6 cents on the dollar. After his 1980 campaign, Ted Kennedy left many vendors high and dry. People who sell goods and services to candidates are aware of this practice.

    Aren’t we Libertarians supposed to be better than that? How about trying to take the moral high ground?

    Honestly, though, I’m less concerned about GJ’s “creative accounting” than I am about his continuously growing list of deviations from basic libertarian principles, e.g. opposition to freedom of religion and freedom of association, support for the “Fair” Tax and “humanitarian” warfare, and so forth. He seems to be becoming less libertarian with each passing day.

  49. Election Addict

    There is zero question that Sanders will endorse Hillary Clinton. Bet your livelihood.

  50. Andy

    Gene Berkman said: “Yes, Gary’s old campaign debts are an ethical issue.”

    So if someone walks into a grocery store, and walks out with a cart of groceries without having paid for them, would you just shrug it off as being an “ethical issue” and do nothing further?

    “But not an uncommon practice.”

    Well sure, politics is full of unethical people who lie, cheat, steal, threaten, and murder, so stiffing people they owe money to is par for the course.

    “After his 1984 campaign, Gary Hart paid his creditors 6 cents on the dollar. After his 1980 campaign, Ted Kennedy left many vendors high and dry.”

    Suppose that you were hired for a job, say to paint somebody’s house, and you did the job properly, and then only got paid 6 cents for every dollar you had been promised to do the job. Would you be OK with this?

    “People who sell goods and services to candidates are aware of this practice.”

    I am a person who sells goods and services to candidates and other political organizations, and I am aware that there are sometimes lying, weaselly people who commit fraud and do not pay debts, and I have in fact been ripped off myself before, and I am not OK with anyone who engages in such practice.

    You make it sound like candidates not paying their bills is something that should just be shrugged off and swept under the rug.

  51. Andy

    “Prefer Not To Say said: “FWIW: Johnson had the opportunity to make New Mexico 100% free by educating the public about jury rights. He also could have pardoned thousands of victimless non-crime ‘offenders.’ He didn’t do those things, and so I’ll be voting for McAfee.”

    True. Just imagine if a real hardcore libertarian had managed to become Governor of New Mexico for 8 years.

  52. Thomas Knapp

    “But it is way over the top to say, as TK has said, that Gary Johnson is more fiscally irresponsible than Hilary Clinton”

    I don’t recall ever saying any such thing. If I did, feel free to point out where.

    But as langa and Andy point out, “not more fiscally irresponsible than Hillary Clinton” isn’t a very high standard.

    Johnson doesn’t balance his checkbook. Johnson rips off the people deals with. And Johnson lied about the scale of those problems in order to get the LP’s 2012 nomination. Those three things alone should be sufficient disqualifications — he’s just not fit to be nominated again.

    If none of his opponents were any better, then NOTA would be.

    But at least two or three of his opponents appear to be better. Not just on ability to balance a checkbook and unwillingness to lie to the party about it, but also better on the issues and better at presenting a libertarian perspective on the issues.

    I guess I might vote for Johnson if the only alternative was Derrick Michael Reid, but it isn’t — and even if it was, that’s hardly any more of an endorsement than saying he’s not as bad as Hillary Clinton.

  53. Freaky Philly

    George Phillies, you dropped a wall of text on this forum. Like an idiot, I read through it thinking you might back up your allegations. You did not. You accused a man of fraud, even implied theft bu have nothing to back up your allegations.

    A loan is between the guy loaning and the guy borrowing, if you aren’t either of these guys, then you have no business making any comments about it. As usual you seem to be looking to hurt people for your own enjoyment.

    So here it is plainly asked: Do you or do you not have first hand knowledge of a loan not repaid? Who is the lender? What steps have they taken to collect? What is your connection to the loan that you have the authority to speak for the lender, and accuse Gary Johnson of fraud?

  54. Thomas L. Knapp

    The fraud wasn’t so much on the “lenders” — actually creditors — as it was on the Libertarian Party. Johnson lied about the size of his debt, claiming it was only $152k at the time that it was of concern to the LP and raised as an issue pertaining to his seeking the party’s presidential nomination. After the general election, he admitted that it had actually been more than $1 million.

  55. Andy

    “Thomas L. Knapp
    March 31, 2016 at 12:02
    The fraud wasn’t so much on the ‘lenders’ — actually creditors — as it was on the Libertarian Party.”

    I would say that their was fraud committed against the creditors, assuming that they were expecting to be paid for their good and/or services.

    Is it possible that these debts are actually campaign contributions, as in maybe the creditors never expected to get paid, and this was their way of contributing to the campaign?

  56. Andy

    “I would say that their was fraud committed:

    Should read, “I would say that there was fraud committed…”

  57. George Phillies

    “Is it possible that these debts are actually campaign contributions, as in maybe the creditors never expected to get paid, and this was their way of contributing to the campaign?”

    For all of then?

    NO. NO POSSIBILITY.

  58. George Phillies

    The grossest fraud was against the convention delegates, who thought the Johnson’s campaign debts at time of nomination were much smaller than they actually were. As one of those delegates, I was personally subject to deceit.

    Don’t worry, my book will be dealing with your questions.

  59. George Phillies

    “A loan is between the guy loaning and the guy borrowing, if you aren’t either of these guys, then you have no business making any comments about it.”

    I’m not entitled to editorialize about Bernie Madoff as an example of bad investment practices? I see you are an advocate of protecting theft and fraud.

  60. Andy

    “George Phillies
    March 31, 2016 at 13:13
    The grossest fraud was against the convention delegates, who thought the Johnson’s campaign debts at time of nomination were much smaller than they actually were. As one of those delegates, I was personally subject to deceit.”

    I was not a Johnson delegate, but even so, I agree that it was wrong to mislead everyone at the national convention as to the size of their campaign debt.

    “George Phillies
    March 31, 2016 at 13:07
    ‘Is it possible that these debts are actually campaign contributions, as in maybe the creditors never expected to get paid, and this was their way of contributing to the campaign?’

    For all of then?

    NO. NO POSSIBILITY.”

    If this is the case, I would say that it is highly unethical (and illegal) to not pay people who provided goods and/or services to their campaign who were expecting to get paid.

    Have any of these creditors taken any legal action against the Johnson campaign for failure to pay debts?

  61. George Phillies

    Suing your clients has somewhat negative implications for your other course of business. Some of the debts appear to be too small for litigation to be practical in the American system.

    I do know that at least one debtor was extremely vigorous in pursuing the debt, and another debtor–who was in the end paid–did file suit, albeit in the wrong district.

  62. Carol Moore

    Thanks Andy, needed that bracing commentary. Some of us have started mocking TRUMP by doing Trump. (mea culpa) But you’ve reminded us we’re just doing Austin Potorson. (haha)

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