News & Notes: Pennsylvania Libertarian Acquitted, Fallout From Iowa Theft Continues

TOWNE NOT GUILTY: Northampton County Judge Craig Dally has found Libertarian Jake Towne not guilty, ending a multi-year saga. It had been alleged that Towne signed nominating petitions to confirm he had collected petition signatures when in fact the signatures were either forged or collected by someone else.

In a note from Towne published by Ballot Access News, he says: “I was found not guilty yesterday in my criminal case. I was maliciously targeted for my efforts to combat government corruption. This was a politically-motivated attack by both the Democrats and Republicans against the free speech of third parties.”

Towne goes on to note: “I incurred debts totaling over $50,000 to defend my reputation. I was subjected to a 16-month grand jury investigation and was under arrest for 2 years.”

Considering the punishing cost Towne has endured, regardless of the ultimate outcome, it seems likely that the case will have the intended impact of chilling outside challengers to the two-party system in Pennsylvania.

SC OK WITH SECESSION: The Libertarian Party of South Carolina is making news with a new plank in their party platform. Writes the Post & Courier: “It may not have worked out so well in 1861, but a group of anti-big government South Carolinians says it supports the right of the state and its citizens to secede from the Union in 2021.”

IOWA LP FALLOUT CONTINUES: The Libertarian Party of Iowa has accused its former chair, Michael Conner Jr, of engaging in unauthorized transactions and filing inaccurate ethics reports.

Writing in The Cedar Rapids Gazette, columnist Adam Sullivan blasted the party for being “its own worst enemy.”

A functioning organization would have had checks in place to ensure this didn’t happen in the first place, let alone go undetected for so long. Party leaders held a public Zoom meeting last week to discuss the situation. For more than two hours, activists went back and forth about past missteps and a path forward.

At one point, the meeting devolved into a raucous airing of grievances. Members fought over unreturned phone calls, disparaging Facebook comments and who “liked” them. It probably was a necessary pressure valve for their pent up frustration but it was a bad look to do it in public.

Former gubernatorial nominee Jake Porter announced he was leaving the party because of the theft and disfunction:


One thought on “News & Notes: Pennsylvania Libertarian Acquitted, Fallout From Iowa Theft Continues

  1. Andy

    He could have avoided all of this hassle if he had just taken me up on my offer to go work in his district if he, or him and whatever other local party members, would just pay for my motel or get me an Airbnb or put me up at somebody home. I did end up going there to gather signatures, but they only were willing to pay for one day of motel. I offered to stay longer, but they just did not want to pay for another day of motel.

    He thought he could save some money by hiring a non-libertarian mercenary to gather petition signatures off of Facebook, and this person forged signatures and burned him. They turned in the page with forged signatures and conveniently did not sign the petition circulator declaration on that page, probably because they knew that the signatures were forged and that they were the ones who forged them. Was this person trying to set him up, or were they just trying to scam some easy money? I don’t know. I do know that he made the mistake of signing this declaration himself, which was a foolish thing to have done.

    The petitions for minor parties can have multiple candidates on them, and the pages have to be separated by county, so while the statewide candidates at the top of the page will be the same across the state, the candidates for district offices are different depending on which page the county is for. There was a candidate running for US House in this same area whose name was on the same petition pages, named Tim Silfies, and his petition signatures got challenged. Silfies ended up surviving the petition challenge, however, if was during this challenge that the opposition discovered the forged signatures on a sheet turned in by Jake Towne which had his name signed off as the circulator in the petition declaration. This is what led to the criminal charges. It was an honest mistake on Jake’s part, but if I had been there I’d have advised him against doing it. I think it turned out that none of them even really needed any of the signatures on that page to have had enough valid signatures to have qualified for the ballot, so he could have just not submitted that page, but he did not know this at the time.

    When I was in his district I specifically asked him if he wanted me to stay another day, which would have entailed, him, and/or the other party members there, paying for another day at a motel for me. He said no. If he or they would have just paid for one more day of a motel for me I could have easily gotten the same number of signatures that were on that page with the forgeries, only NONE of them would have been forged, or otherwise gathered in a fraudulent manner, and the validity rate on them would have been really high.

    Moral of the story: Trying to cut corners can end up costing you big time. Instead of hiring random people or mercenaries who don’t really believe in your cause, hire proven petition circulators who actually do believe in your cause.

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