New (R) Oregon SOS Reaffirms Current Libertarian Party of Oregon Leadership

Dennis Michael Richardson, Oregon Secretary of State

DATELINE: SALEM OREGON – In a Press Release distributed earlier today, headlined “Oregon Secretary of State reaffirms existing Libertarian Party of Oregon leadership,” newly elected Oregon Secretary of State, Dennis Michael Richardson, announced he had “reaffirmed that control of the Libertarian Party of Oregon (LPO) is to remain in the hands of its current leadership.”  His full statement can be found HERE.

Rumors and concerns had been flying over the past 24 hours after leadership of each group received the following email from Steve Elzinga, the Governmental & Legal Affairs Director of the Oregon Secretary State’s office:

“Secretary Richardson is planning to distribute a decision memo regarding LPO leadership Friday around 3pm in a short press release. We would like to give you and your clients an embargoed copy of the decision memo explaining the reasons for the decision tomorrow morning if you will agree not to publically discuss it until the press release goes out tomorrow afternoon. Please let me know if that is something you would like to do.”

With the assumption that the Secretary of State’s office would be unlikely to issue a Press Release reaffirming an existing policy, many who read the statement above assumed a decision to transfer leadership of the Libertarian Party of Oregon was imminent.

Earlier Secretary of State Richardson had met with Richard Burke and others from PAC 16869. This meeting also included three Republican state legislators. Subsequently the Secretary met with representatives of the Libertarian Party of Oregon (Wagner faction) for about 30 minutes. No Republican legislators were present at that meeting.

Prior to today’s public announcement, IPR was informed that the Wagner faction, anticipating a decision detrimental to the Libertarian Party of Oregon, was “preparing a legal response” and had immediately contacted the Governor with a request to “make an inquiry with haste to potentially prevent harm.”

Richard Burke, who had worked on Richardson’s campaign (and who had endorsed Donald Trump for the Republican Primary (as covered by IPR HERE)) is the current secretary and former chair of PAC 16869, which has been operating with the name, Libertarian Party of Oregon. Recently Burke was appointed by the Oregon State Senate Republican minority to serve as one of nine members of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission through the year 2020.

When contacted by IPR early today he replied:

“I have no idea what the Sec. of States (sic) release concerning the LPO will say.  Both sides will be given copies of the release in advance but have pledged not to go public with it until the Sec. of State’s office does.  After that time, if you wish, I can offer comment as the Chair is out of state and the vice-chair will be at work.  Thank you.”

And subsequently:

“There are some errors in the document released by the Sec. of State upon which their current decision was made.  We will continue to work with the Sec. of State’s office with respect to these issues and look forward to the decision coming down from our court of appeals case.”

Lars Hedbor, Chair of the recently-reaffirmed Libertarian Party of Oregon replied:

“Oregon’s Secretary of State Richardson today upheld the rule of law, and rejected a cynical attempt by a GOP-associated group to use his office to achieve a hostile takeover of the Libertarian Party of Oregon.  Having failed in the courts, and ignoring the will of the Libertarian voters of Oregon, this group has continued to fraudulently collect funds in our name, and has several times submitted false candidate nominations to the elections division.

“Secretary Richardson correctly deferred to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment in declining to insert the State of Oregon into an internal dispute within a political party, as well as respecting the judgement in the case brought in the Clackamas County Circuit Court.  More importantly, his decision acknowledges the provisions in Oregon law that the real owners of the Libertarian Party of Oregon – the 19,000 registered Libertarian voters in the state – should decide on their leadership and structure.

“With this decision from Secretary Richardson, we can return our focus to our work toward increasing freedom in Oregon and the rest of the nation.  Over the past decade, the Libertarian Party of Oregon has enjoyed unprecedented growth and electoral success, and we’re proud to have contributed to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon, as well as to the recognition of same-sex marriage.

“We look forward to working with Secretary Richardson over the coming years to continue supporting and improving the integrity of elections in the state of Oregon, and defending the inalienable rights inherent to all people, by limiting gov’t to the roles described by the constitutions of the United States and the state of Oregon.”

Richardson, a Republican, was elected to the office last November. At the same time his immediate predecessor in the office, Kate Brown, a Democrat, was elected Governor of Oregon.  As Secretary of State, Brown had granted ballot access to the current Libertarian Party of Oregon (Wagner faction) and had required the Burke faction to register as a Political Action Committee.

It was unclear at press time if Governor Brown was involved in this decision by the current Secretary of State.

The Court of Appeals case mentioned by Richard Burke in his comments above remains under review by the Oregon Court. The Court has issued rulings on cases now heard more than a year after having heard arguments in the LPO matter.  The court seems to be taking its time and it’s currently unclear how this decision by the Secretary of State may or may not impact those deliberations, or when the Court of Appeals can be expected to issue a ruling on the appeal by PAC 16869.

However, today’s announcement is consistent with the apparent understanding of PAC 16869 which has had posted in the bottom right of their website for several years (and as accessed earlier today, 07 April 17) the following:

“The leadership of the LPO and the governing documents governing it’s (sic) operation are in dispute.  The Libertarian National Committee, delegates assembled at the 2012 and 2014 Libertarian National Conventions, the national Libertarian Judicial Committee, and the Oregon LP Judicial Committee recognizes (sic) the leadership and governing documents associated with organization (sic) sponsoring this website.  The Oregon Secretary of State is barred from taking a position and has for the moment defaulted to recognizing an alternate organization because it is supported by the most recent “Chair of Record.”  This is being contested in a variety of venues and we expect the situation will be resolved soon.” (emphasis added).

The PAC’s website claims that: “This is the official website of the Libertarian Party of Oregon (LPO). This website also serves as a resource for people to learn more about the party . . .”

The PAC appears to be a group designed to appeal to former LP VP candidate Wayne Root Republicans (Root was also an early, ardent supporter of Donald Trump). The following video has been highlighted on their Facebook page since January 2016 (accessed earlier today 07APR17).

More information on PAC 16869 currently operating as “The Libertarian Party of Oregon” can be found at

More information about the Libertarian Party of Oregon recognized by both the LNC, and the past two and current Oregon Secretary of State’s office can be found at 

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

About Joseph Buchman

Joe is a retired, formerly tenured professor of marketing and finance with an interest in adventure travel, chasing total solar eclipses, and Burning Man. He is a long-time volunteer with the Sundance Film Festival, former Chair of the Utah Libertarian Party and current Chair of the financial Audit Committee of the Libertarian Party. He and Cindy, his wife of over 25 years, have raised four highly successful children, several cats, and have generally failed with every houseplant ever gifted to them.

20 thoughts on “New (R) Oregon SOS Reaffirms Current Libertarian Party of Oregon Leadership

  1. Joseph Buchman Post author

    He writes: “both groups have agreed in legal pleadings, that the Secretary of State has no jurisdiction.”

    If he had ruled the other way, it would have been fascinating to see what jurisdiction he could have found in the face of both sides agreeing he had NONE in their court filings.

  2. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Interestingly the Oregon Government Ethics Commission website (See: shows Richard Burke as “Appointed by the Senate Minority” while the PAC 16869 website states:

    “Richard P. Burke, current Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Oregon, has been appointed by governor Kate Brown (D) to serve a four­ year term as a commissioner on the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.”

    The Ethics Commission website also shows the three positions on the board which are “Appointed by the Governor” as, “MARILYN COVER,” “KENNY MONTOYA” and “VACANT.”

    Which website is incorrect?

  3. Fred

    The Ethics Commission website also shows the three positions on the board which are “Appointed by the Governor” as, “MARILYN COVER,” “KENNY MONTOYA” and “VACANT.”

    Listing Burke as “vacant” is almost as funny as him serving on the ethics commission

  4. Jill Pyeatt

    I hope the lack of comments on both Oregon articles make it clear how weary we all are about the Oregon dispute.

    If Burke chooses to stop by here, I hope he notices.

    By the way, whatever happened to Dave Terry?

  5. Richard Burke


    Because of the nature of the Sec. of State’s office, we knew that this was a long shot. This dispute is ultimately going to be decided in court, but it was reasonable to go to Sec. Richardson as a way to short-circuit the process. As it is, nothing is changed. But some interesting things have come from this process.

    1. Joe Buchanan’s Reporting is Shoddy, errant, misleading, and incomplete in a way that exposes his radical bias as shown here:

    a. There were not three Republican legislators. There were two. One of them was Kim Thatcher, who was the Wagner nominee for the 13th District in 2014. I have known her for years, and was supportive in the Oregon House of legislation that helped minor parties maintain ballot access. The other, Julie Parrish, also had the Independent Party’s endorsement in 2016. Parrish was instrumental in getting Oregon’s Fusion voting through the legislature and enacted into law. Parrish is perhaps the most philosophically libertarian legislators in Oregon and has been expelled from from GOP caucuses because of her work with myself, other Libertarians, and members of other third parties. The fact that the Wagner side was not able to bring any legislators into their meeting with the Sec. of State is testiment to the fact that they have no presence in the legislature and are working with nobody that offers a channel through which legislation favorable to the LP can be introduced.

    b. Buchman also asserts that the LPO based on governing documents approved by members at properly noticed conventions is designed to “… appeal to former LP VP candidate Wayne Root Republicans”. Fact is, that neither Wayne Root nor any of his supporters is associated with either organization claiming to represent the legitimate Libertarian Party of Oregon. Root was the LP’s VP nominee in 2008, and we have not distanced ourselves from him. But his is not involved in any of this.

    c. Buchman discusses my appointment to the Oregon Ethics Commission. As a personal note, I find it interesting that neither the LP national organization or the Wagner side think is worthy of note that a Libertarian was appointed to this commission for the first time in Oregon. But it is what it is. In any case, members of the Oregon State Ethics Commission are appointed by the governor, vetted by a senate committee (controlled in Oregon by Democrats), and then confirmed by the Oregon senate (controlled by Democrats). On the site, people can see documents signed by the Democratic governor Kate Brown, and Democrat senate president Peter Courtney, establishing my presence on the commission. What Mr. Buchman is referring to is my nomination to the commission by the senate minority leader, Ted Ferrioli, a Republican. The Ethics commission was recently expanded from 7 to 9 members. It was agreed that the Republicans and Democrats could nominate one person to fill the new vacancies, but that neither could nominate someone from their own party. I was the GOP nominee, and another person (and Independent Party member) was the Dem choice. But we were ultimately appointed by the Democratic governor, vetted by a Dem committee, and confirmed by a Dem senate.

    d. Buchman correctly points out that I worked for the Richardson for Sec. of State Campaign. What he does not tell you is that I resigned from the campaign after Oregon’s primary election. I also resigned from the Donald Trump campaign after Oregon’s primary election. He fails to mention, as has been brought to this venue before without contradiction, that I have never worked against a Libertarian candidate in any general election who was not nominated by a national convention or in accordance with processes established in governing documents adopted by LPO members in properly noticed conventions. I did nothing to support or oppose the Wagner nominee for Sec. of State in the general election but supported Gov. Johnson and helped to organize events for him in Oregon. I believed, and it has proven true, that a Trump/Clinton matchup would offer opportunities for the LP and the Johnson/Weld ticket.

    2. Lars Hedbor attempt to perpetuate myths about the legitimate LPO organization being controlled by the Republican party. Specifically, Hedbor writes that the legitimate organization is a “GOP associated group”. This is interesting because, if True, RIchardson (especially after I worked for him) would have decided the issue in our direction. I know Richardson. I like him. He personally called me the day of the press release to express his regret that he was constricted from deciding the matter in our favor. I still consider him my friend despite his decision.

    But if the conspiracy theory that the GOP was using our organization as a puppet to destroy the LP in Oregon was true, Richardson would personally have had nothing to lose by deciding in our favor. Fact is, there is no association between the legitimate LPO and the GOP. I personally know some members of the GOP, and my political opponents have done their best to overlay my personal associations upon the larger LPO organization. For what it’s worth, I also know Democrats. Brad Avakian, the current Oregon Labor Commissioner and Dem nominee for Sec. of State defeated by RIchardson, is a friend of mine. Avakian, as a state senator, supported two of my bills in 2001 which made it easier for minor parties to maintain ballot status. He was very anxious to decide in our favor if he had won, and we became friends (though politically opposed) because we are both active in supporting the national Eagle Scouts Assn. Does this make me a Democrat plant? Ridiculous.

    Regarding the errors in Sec. of State Richardson’s document:

    1. In his Paragraph 1, Richardson says, “Neither group followed the 2009 LPO bylaws that both groups agree were in force in March 2011.” This is noteworthy because it represents the first time that the Sec. of State has acknowledged that the Wagner side violated LPO bylaws. Concerning our alleged violation, Steve Elzinga of the Sec. of State’s office said that our alleged violation was that we did not have a state committee quorum at the close of the 2011 LPO Annual Business Convention in May 2011. In fact, despite the claims of the Wagner group, we did. This was an assertion we did not have the chance to refute.

    2. In Paragraph 4, the Sec. of State writes, “Each of the two groups has alleged that rulings in its favor by the Libertarian National Convention (LNC) are dispositive, yet the national party has issued conflicting rulings on the issue. Most recently, the LNC voted to recognize the same group as currently recognized by this office.” It is very clear from this letter that the Sec. of State does not understand the difference between the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) and our national conventions. As pointed out repeatedly in this venue, the LNC has passed four resolutions in support of our side and none in support of Wagner’s side. And even at national conventions, no Wagner delegate has ever been seated at the 2012, 2014, or 2016 conventions without the support of our side. And even in 2016, where no Oregon delegation was seated on threat of not listing the national party’s national ticket on the Oregon ballot, the delegates sent by our side were ultimately seated in other states and effectively operated as an Oregon delegation. It is also worthy of note that the Sec. of State did not acknowledge either the 2011 or 2015 ruling of the national Judicial Committee.

    So we are pretty much where we were before…. Waiting for a ruling from the appeals court. I believe the outcome of this process will be determinative.

    Richard P. Burke, Secretary
    Libertarian Party of Oregon

  6. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Richard is 100 percent correct and I apologize for both the factual errors and the bias.

    Personally, seeing any Wayne Allyn Root videos on any Libertarian websites/Facebook pages does give me a sick feeling, reverse peristalsis and a residual strong bias; there’s no doubt about that.

    I also want to thank Richard for the information above. I will send that along to the Ethics Commission with a request that they update their website. Why, it never occurred to me that the information I accessed at the Ethics Commission website might be shoddy.

    I’m also sad and sorry to learn you feel so “all on your own” out there in Oregon and have “not received any support” as you whined posted publically on Facebook yesterday.

    “As an elected Libertarian and an appointed member of the state ethics board, I have had zero party support. All on my own out here.”

    It must be hard being an officer of a Party that gives you no support.

    Except your Party is NOT a political “party;” it is registered as a “Political Action Committee.” It would be incorrect to describe it as a “party” wouldn’t it? Or am I being shoddy again?

    So you claim you’re an officer of a “political party” when your organization is not a “party” it’s a “PAC.”
    You claim you were appointed by the Governor, when her three appointments do not include your name.
    You claim this will be resolved “soon.” – A claim I first heard from you when I was tasked with managing Oregon Ballot Access for the Johnson 2012 campaign – five years ago. You were 100 percent confident your group would be given ballot access in the Summer of 2012!
    You claim the Libertarian Party of Oregon which opposes you and your group was “unable” to bring any legislators into the meeting and you characterize this as a “fact” while also claiming it was a “long-shot” – why would they waste the time of others in that process?

    Haven’t you wasted enough of everyone’s time on this yet?

    You have become self-aware (apparently) of being “all on your own” out there.

    That might be something to attend to.

    There could be a good reason for it.


  7. Kyle Markley

    “Fact is, there is no association between the legitimate LPO and the GOP.”

    You worked for two Republican primary campaigns last year, brought two Republican legislators to the meeting with the Republican Secretary of State, your group’s attorney is the former Vice Chair of the Oregon Republican Party, you campaigned for my Republican opponent in 2014, and in 2016 you personally signed the nomination paperwork that, had the Elections Division accepted it, would have given my ballot line to my Republican opponent.

    But there is nothing to see, here. That stuff is clearly irrelevant, and no reasonable person could interpret those facts in a manner suggesting any inappropriate relationship exists.

  8. Wes Wagner

    “Fact is, there is no association between the legitimate LPO and the GOP.”

    This is actually true, when you think about it.

  9. Richard P. Burke


    You wrote… “Personally, seeing any Wayne Allyn Root videos on any Libertarian websites/Facebook pages does give me a sick feeling, reverse peristalsis and a residual strong bias; there’s no doubt about that.” I have some disagreements with Wayne about a number of things too. And there are points of agreement. But he was, in fact, our nominee for Vice President in 2008.

    You then continue to write about the Ethics commission website concerning my appointment to the commission. Of course, it was not “shoddy” for you to go to their website for information. But your research was incomplete.

    In Oregon, various entities advance nominations for positions on the Ethics Committee to the governor. In my case, I was nominated by the senate minority leader. Another was nominated by the senate majority leader. Both agreed to nominate someone who was not a member of their own parties. The governor gets to nominate three herself, which is what you were referring to.

    All nominees, from wherever they come, are then vetted by the governor’s office. If the governor (now a Dem) is satisfied and does not object to the nominees, he/she “appoints” them. These appointments must then be confirmed by the state senate. Appointees appear before the Rules Committee (now controlled by Dems) which may ask questions. The committee then votes on the appointees. If the vote is positive, appointees are then voted on my the full senate (controlled by Dems). If the vote is positive, they are confirmed.

    The certificate I received upon my confirmation, signed by the governor, says I was appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate. My letter from senate president Peter Courtney (Dem) notes that my appointment was confirmed by the full senate. All are matters of record. The research you did was not wrong, but it was incomplete and this led you to errant conclusions.

    You continue… “I’m also sad and sorry to learn you feel so “all on your own” out there in Oregon and have “not received any support” as you whined posted publicly on Facebook yesterday. It must be hard being an officer of a Party that gives you no support.

    My bad. I should have been clearer. I was speaking of the national party. I have gotten plenty of support from the legitimate LPO, the one based on bylaws approved by members in conventions.

    But it true that the national party does little to support ANY elected Libertarians. It would need only modest resources to systematically share best practices, rally media support on policies under consideration by elected bodies with Libertarian members, and undertake other such activities. In my case, the national party does not even see fit to list me as an elected (and now also appointed) Libertarian.

    But let’s talk about Oregon. Here, Lars Hedbor, the chair of the other group purporting to be the party, actually tried to unseat me with a $12,000 viscous mail campaign while a Democrat ran for another position unopposed in the same election. That wasn’t very supportive. Lars probably could have won the other seat with those resources.

    You continue… “Except your Party is NOT a political ‘party;’ it is registered as a ‘Political Action Committee.’ It would be incorrect to describe it as a “party” wouldn’t it? Or am I being shoddy again?”

    Actually, you are being a bit shoddy because your account of the situation is incomplete. It is true that the Sec. of State currently acknowledges us as a Misc. PAC and the other side as the political party PAC. But the national Judicial Committee in 2015/16 and the LNC (through four resolutions in 2011 which still stand) recognize our group as the Oregon affiliate of the national party. And there is still active litigation on the matter. Mr. Sarwark has chosen not to implement these rulings/resolutions, but they are still there. Apparently you, like Mr. Sarwark, support the Sec. of State telling us who our leaders are supposed to be.

    You continue… “You claim this will be resolved ‘soon.’ – A claim I first heard from you when I was tasked with managing Oregon Ballot Access for the Johnson 2012 campaign – five years ago. You were 100 percent confident your group would be given ballot access in the Summer of 2012!”

    Well, I was wrong on that one! But we could see court action anytime. Or it might still be a while. Hopefully, it will be “soon”.

    You continue… You claim the Libertarian Party of Oregon which opposes you and your group was “unable” to bring any legislators into the meeting and you characterize this as a “fact” while also claiming it was a “long-shot” – why would they waste the time of others in that process?

    That’s a clever bit of wording, but is actually rhetorical cover for the fact that the other LPO has no significant legislative presence in Salem. It is true that appealing to Richardson was a long-shot, but it could have worked. For a while you thought it might work – You, and many others believed that Richardson would decide in our favor when he disclosed he would be issuing a press release. Of course, no doubt had Richardson gone our way, many here at IPR would be decrying how Richardson was part of a grand conspiracy to control the LPO.

    You continue… “Haven’t you wasted enough of everyone’s time on this yet?”

    All of this stems from the fact that the other side has: 1) Purported to replace our governing documents outside a properly noticed convention as required by long-established bylaws [which they admit to and is on tape], 2) Purported to cancel a properly called convention session – which Mr. Wagner had requested – ostensibly so we would all work together to reach quorum [which they admit to and is on tape], and 3) Purportedly appointed officers to new terms of office outside the processes established by our legitimate governing documents [which they admit to and as is documented in their records]. This would not be tolerated elsewhere, and should never be tolerated by any group touting itself as “The Party of Principle.” Fighting for such principles is never a waste of time and, had we done the same thing, I’m sure the other side would be fighting still.

    We will have to see what the courts have to say.

    Richard P. Burke, Sec.
    Libertarian Party of Oregon

  10. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Had lunch with an attorney friend of mine today. Told me about a judge here in Utah, now pushing 90 years old, who has had a case on his docket since . . . 1978.

    Yep. Sometimes the court just makes you wait.

    Apparently it’s a not so uncommonly used form of punishment for the oblivious and/or those seen as having wasted a judge’s time.

  11. Richard P. Burke

    Joe… I know what the Oregon State Ethics Commission says, but their use of the word “Appointed by” should say something like, “Nominated by”. I will talk to the Exec. Dir. about it. But the fact is that the appointments are all ultimately made by the governor and confirmed by the senate after approved by a committee charged with that function.

    If you wish, I will provide you with the proper documentation. How to I include images or file attachments in my posts here? In any case, if you REALLY want to research the appointment process, it should be possible for you to look at more than just one website. An error on a government website? I’m shocked! Shocked! You seem to have a lot more faith in government websites than a lot of Libertarians. But I am not surprised as you are also willing to allow the government to decide who our party leaders are.

    Your mention a Utah court case still pending from 1978. That’s pretty funny. Also a bit of an anomaly, I think. You suggest that the delay in our appeal is some kind of punishment for frivolity, but no evidence. You suggest that our court case is a waste of time, but I think your bias is showing again as you failed to directly reply to the comment on that point I offered in my last post.

    On another note, Mr. Wagner suggests that it may be possible for public officials to duel in Oregon. Actually that is a pretty funny new article. I’m not sure how to interpret that – why would he post that here? Is Mr. Wagner suggesting that someone wants to shoot me? 😉 To quote Mr. Wagner from 2011, “Is this threat “credible and immediate?” 😉 In any case, any person on Mr. Wagner’s side who might challenge me to a duel would have to be a public official, so I guess I’m safe for now. 🙂

  12. paulie

    How to I include images or file attachments in my posts here?

    You’re out of luck. Our site owners have seen fit to only grant permission to do so to those who are signed up to write here. You’d have to submit the image, or host it elsewhere and post a link.

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