Monday, June 07, 2010

Aaron Starr Fails to Bribe Libertarian Party Delegates

Over at Independent Political Report, Thomas Knapp reports that at the 2010 LP national convention:

"the convention considered a measure to allow voting on bylaws measures by mail. Aaron Starr, Treasurer of the Libertarian Party, estimated that such a mailing would cost around $8000–roughly as much as an issue of LPNews. Starr, a supporter of the measure, offered to pay for the first mailing. The measure ultimately failed by a voice vote."

This is not the first time Starr has pulled this stunt. At the 2007 Libertarian Party of California convention, Starr wanted a certain measure passed. I forget what it was for -- a bylaws change, perhaps. But I do remember that he publicly offered to donate $15,000 to the LPC if the measure passed.

These bribery attempts are not especially egregious. Starr made them in public, before all assembled delegates. He was not trying to buy votes for his own campaign, but to pass measures that he said (and likely believed) were in the party's best interest. Certainly, he's free to tie strings to his donations.

Even so, these were bribes. I wasn't at the 2010 convention, but I was at the 2007 convention, and I know that Starr's offer left a bad taste in some delegates' mouths.

Libertarians, even povertarians, are not especially prone to class envy. Yet an anti-elitist sentiment permeates many conventions. A feeling that "we're all equal on the floor."

Seeing a delegate flash his checkbook to donate money earns goodwill. But seeing a delegate flash his checkbook in an attempt to buy votes for a bylaw or platform change leaves a bad taste. Votes should be won on the merits -- on the arguments one can muster based on one's intelligence and principles -- and not on who has the bigger checkbook.

At the 2007 convention Aaron Starr's offer was rebuffed. At the 2010 convention Starr's offer was not only rebuffed, but he was later trounced in his attempt to win re-election for LP national treasurer.

If Starr is wise, he'll have finally learned his lesson. When you offer to donate money in exchange for delegates' votes, the answer is likely "No."

1 comment:

Thomas L. Knapp said...

Actually, I'm not the one who reported that particular event. I'm just mentioned at the top of the omnibus report. I suspect it was Paulie or Brian Holtz who reported on Starr's offer.

Tom Knapp