Wikinews: Ex GOP Congressman Joins LP, Seeks VP, Then Leaves

Adapted from the Wikinews series On the campaign trail

As soon as Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination, Libertarian Party (LP) membership applications doubled. Longtime Republican consultant Mary Matalin, former Massachusetts governor William Weld, and former Congressman Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, were among those who left the GOP in May to find a new home in the LP. While Matalin enthusiastically backed Libertarian presidential runner-up Austin Petersen, and Weld won the party’s vice presidential nomination; Bentivolio, who had endorsed Dr. Ben Carson for president before joining the party, had a much different experience.

“It was suggested by a few supporters I run [for vice president] as a libertarian,” says Bentivolio, a teacher and veteran of the Vietnam and Iraq wars, who earned the moniker “the accidental Congressman” after his surprising 2012 election, “I briefly entertained the idea of running and spent time investigating the party.”

Bentivolio, 64, unexpectedly won the Republican nomination to represent Michigan’s 11th Congressional District in 2012, after the sitting Congressman, Thaddeus McCotter, a 2012 presidential candidate, was unable to run for re-election after his petitions to qualify for the primary ballot were deemed fraudulent.  Upon his victory in the general election, Bentivolio went to Washington, joining the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He took an active role in introducing and sponsoring successful legislation, becoming, according to the House historian, one of the most effective freshmen Congressmen of recent times. GovTrack listed him as the most transparent Republican freshman in the 113th United States Congress.

Nevertheless, during his single term, he frequently bucked the party leadership, voting against a resolution to the 2013 government shutdown, calling for a zero-base budget, and endorsing the impeachment of President Barack Obama.  Moreover, the establishment disapproved of his smaller fundraising efforts. 

“From day one after my election [to Congress],” Bentivolio explains, “Mr. Paul Welday (recently deceased from a heart attack), stated to the Press [that] they (the GOP) will not only take the seat back but ruin me personally.”

In 2014, Bentivolio lost his seat to attorney Dave Trott, a primary opponent with a large fundraising edge and the backing of the Republican establishment. After leaving Congress, Bentivolio suffered financial difficulties as a consequence of a lawsuit filed against him by his former campaign attorney, whom Bentivolio now believes was a Republican establishment saboteur. As a result of the lawsuit, he filed for bankruptcy in 2015.

When Bentivolio joined the LP in May, he filed a Form 2 with the Federal Election Commission to run for vice president. Libertarian national chairman Nicholas Sarwark encouraged Bentivolio to run for his old congressional seat in addition to vice president. This was not well received by the local Libertarian Party, which feared such a run would violate Michigan’s sore-loser law; the same law that prevented Gary Johnson from appearing on the ballot in 2012.  Therefore, the local party nominated another candidate to run for the seat by a 2 to 3 vote.

“The district delegates [five in total] voted for another as the House candidate”, recounts Bentivolio, “[the candidate’s] wife was the deciding vote.”

Afterwards, Bentivolio expressed doubt about the party platform, saying it amounted to “judicial supremacy,” which he rejects, referencing the 1857 Dred Scott case, in which the Court affirmed the rights of slaveholders. He added, “I am 100% pro-life and an abolitionist and many in the Libertarian Party are pro-choice and support slavery in their immigration policy.” He cited these as his reasons for ending his vice presidential campaign.

After Gary Johnson and William Weld won the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominations at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention, Bentivolio offered his perspective on Johnson and Weld. Though he considered Johnson, “a nice guy and honest,” he felt Johnson “thinks government has all the answers.” In contrast, Bentivolio said he personally believes “government is the problem” and only supports “a government within the strict limitations clearly expressed in the Constitution.” He described Weld, a Council on Foreign Relations member who proposed strict gun control measures as governor, as someone who “supports big government.”

Bentivolio has left the LP and now is an independent. He is considering an Independent run for his old Congressional seat.  In addition, he remains undecided on whether to support Donald Trump for president. To help him decide, he is currently researching claims of a woman named “Katie Johnson” who filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of rape. Trump’s attorneys dismiss the suit as a hoax.

 

14 thoughts on “Wikinews: Ex GOP Congressman Joins LP, Seeks VP, Then Leaves

  1. Andy

    I agree with some (not all) of the things that Bentivolio said, but the fact that he already quit the party after just joining recently shows that he was not very serious about the party.

  2. William Saturn Post author

    Based on his record, he was probably the best and most honest representative in the 113th Congress. He seems like a regular guy who was able to be elected without becoming beholden to special interests. Because of that, the GOP establishment screwed him over. That perfectly shows the problem with the party system in Washington and why the nomination of an outsider like Donald Trump is such an important step.

  3. Thane Eichenauer

    If he was less beholden to special interests I would imagine that he should have planned to make up for it in other ways. Otherwise one might as well presume that any candidate without special interest support is going to lose.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/elections.php?cycle=2014&cid=N00033625&type=I

    His 2014 primary opponent self-funded his campaign with $2.4 million dollars to Kerry Bentvolio’s $130,000.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2014/by_state/MI_Page_0805.html?SITE=AP&SECTION=POLITICS

  4. natural born American

    Sounds like he was too good for the LP. Best of luck to the Congressman in his new campaign.

  5. Be Rational

    He joins the LP and the leaves within a few months.
    He thinks the LP supports slavery? WTF
    He’s against immigration.
    He’s against women’s rights.
    He supports Trump?

    Sorry, but Bentivolio is less libertarian than Johnson, Weld, and both Pauls.

    Trump is the antithesis of a libertarian.

    His wife denies him the nomination to run for Congress for the LP by voting against him.
    He seems to make enemies easier than friends.
    He’s bankrupt.
    He files to run for VP on the LP ticket … as a bailout from the LP through the campaign? … or as an act of escapism from his personal problems?

    Bentivolio should not be a candidate for any office. He needs to take care of the problems in his personal life.

  6. Gene Berkman

    “His wife denies him the nomination to run for Congress for the LP by voting against him.”
    The story actually implies, to me, that the wife of the other candidate voted against Mr Bentivolio, but it is ambiguously phrased, so you may be right.

  7. Be Rational

    Yes, maybe it was the winning candidate’s wife who voted against Bentivolio.

  8. William Saturn Post author

    There is no ambiguity at all.

    First of all, ‘candidate’ is used immediately before in reference to “the House candidate.” Second, if you had actually paid attention, you’d see that Bentivolio is being quoted, and if he was talking about his own wife, he’d say “my wife.” Lastly, it is incredibly illogical to assume a man’s own wife would vote against him.

    A person would either have to be irrational or intentionally duplicitous to read the sentence differently than the way it was meant.

  9. langa

    A person would either have to be irrational or intentionally duplicitous to read the sentence differently than the way it was meant.

    Given the source, I would say either of those possibilities (irrationality or duplicity) are quite plausible.

  10. Andy

    Where did Bentivolio say he is against women’s rights? Being against abortion is not the same thing as being against women’s rights. Many women are against abortion. Are these women against women’s right? Bentivolio probably sees abortion as murder, and he probably views those who support abortion as being against baby’s rights. Also, since some fetuses are female, as in they are women in the early stages of life, aborting them could be considered to be against women’s rights, since this is denying young women the right to life.

    Having said this, I do not think that Bentivolio should have been the VP candidate for the LP (although he likely would have been better than Weld), I just think that characterizing pro-lifers (many of whom are women) as being against women’s rights is misleading.

  11. William Saturn Post author

    Bentivolio informed me that he cannot run as an Independent for Congress because of the sore loser law. However, I hear word that some from his local Libertarian Party want to remove the candidate they nominated (whom they say is a “socialist asshole”) for the seat and replace him with Bentivolio.

  12. Be Rational

    “The district delegates [five in total] voted for another as the House candidate”, recounts Bentivolio, “[the candidate’s] wife was the deciding vote.”

    *********************

    Here is the actual Bentivolio quote:

    “The district delegates … voted for another as the House candidate”, recounts Bentivolio, “ … wife was the deciding vote.”

    Then there were the editorial insertions:
    “[five in total]” and “[the candidate’s]”

    which added to the confusion, since Bentivolio is a candidate running for the nomination and he refers to the person chosen as “another.” There is no way to know, from the article, if this other perosn chosen is male or female, married or unmarried, but we do know that the candidate, Bentivolio, has a wife.

    At the time of the vote, both Bentivolio and at least one other were candidates seeking the nomination. Neither had yet become the House candidate, and only Bentiviolio is known to have a wife. The editorial insertion should be changed to “[the chosen House candidate’s] or even “[his],” or “[her]” if the chosen House candidate is a woman.

    It happens quite frequently that a wife will publicly vote against her husband … for many reasons … so this would be no surprise in the case of Bentivolio.

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