Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dirty Tricks at the 2012 Libertarian Party National Convention

Dirty tricks are the usual fare at Libertarian Party conventions -- state and national. They've included false rumors against Mary Ruwart during the 2008 national convention, disruptions and dirty tricks during the 2010 California LP convention and again in 2011, attempts to price out povertarians from the 2006 CLP cruise convention, and other instances too numerous to list.

Kudos to Massachusetts LP activist George Phillies (right) for exposing some of the sleazy tricks at the 2012 national LP convention. In his Liberty for America newsletter (May/June 2012), pages 8-9, Phillies reports the following:

"I have been attending National Conventions since 1998. More often than not the party establishment has worked very hard in more or less subtle ways to optimize the likelihood that their friends would win elections. However, in all that time the superficial process was usually mostly honest. The 2012 Convention stands out as an exception to that generality. Unprecedented steps were taken to maximize the likelihood that the governing clique would retain control of the party.

"The most dramatic abuse of power was, of course, barring the delegation appointed by our Oregon affiliate from the convention floor. One of their would-be delegates was Wes Wagner, who was a National Chair candidate. Readers may look for a comparison with 2000 and the Arizona state party, but in 2000 there had actually been an LNC vote not appealed to the Judicial Committee determining who our Arizona affiliate was. The recognized affiliate was seated. The recognition decision made no sense, but it had been made. In 2012, the recognized affiliate was not seated.

"Floor fees were another substantial mechanic for tilting the convention in favor of the Gang of Ten. Various Californians have been well known for their snide comments about party radicals as 'povertarians'. What better way to discourage libertarians of limited means from voting than charging them for the privilege?

"The convention site, an expensive hotel on the outskirts of Las Vegas, did nothing to incent attendance by the same povertarians. After the convention I took my tax accountant, who had just saved me a considerable sum of money, to a restaurant near the Vegas Strip for dinner. Cab fare each way was $60; a first rate dinner for two was $80. That was still cheaper than a dinner for two in one of the hotel’s quality restaurants.

"Readers who have never attended an LP National convention will not have seen the massive leafletting, in which various candidates and positions try to sell their views to the delegates by distributing fliers, trifolds, and on at least one occasion CD disks. Those leaflets are how you reach voters.

"Friday evening, in an unprecedented attack on our voter outreach, the Convention Committee had the tables stripped bare of fliers. I had soon before put out my Treasurer literature. Chuck Moulton had his literature on voting patterns. The Wagner campaign had put out its literature. Wes Wagner’s five fliers were there. All gone!

"All that literature vanished. Post facto, the Convention committee generously gave people a chance to sort the literature out of the trash. Of course, there had been cups of coffee, etc., dumped on some of it.

"Come Saturday morning, the folks advocating for the election of Rutherford, Redpath, Mattson, Gary Johnson, Brett Pojunis, Jillian Mack, etc., showed up with their very impressive, very glossy flier. Somehow, the unprecedented great literature purge had happened before they distributed.

"We now reach the LNC elections. On the third ballot, Mark Rutherford visibly lost to NOTA. Rather than eliminating Rutherford, acting convention chair Bill Redpath claimed that the candidate eliminated was the one write-in vote. The effect of this absurd decision, contrary to all precedent, was a vain attempt to save Mark Rutherford from defeat.

"Now knedlerization enters the English language. After ballots two and three had found Rutherford losing to NOTA, Ohio State Chair Kevin Knedler started screaming, claiming that there was extensive vote fraud, and demanding that the Secretary poll individually the members of several delegations. His performance, analyzed as a theatric display, was spectacular. In my state delegation, there was feeling that he had just eliminated his chances for re-election to the LNC, and had likely taken down everyone associated with him.

"Polling individually is a very slow process; the delegates had to line up in alphabetical order so that the Secretary could ask each of them how they voted. It was apparent to some respected people within the California delegation that during the poll the people voting were not the same as the people who had actually voted earlier, and we were seeing a re-vote rather than a re-count. There was a poll of California, the largest delegation on the floor, after the second ballot. Further calls were ruled out of order as dilatory.

"However, polling had its effect. It postponed most officer elections until Sunday, when it might have been hoped by the Gang of Ten that the povertarians would have left early. They didn't.

"In officer elections, candidates and their nominators have always spoken from the podium, so that everyone could see who was speaking and who was supporting them. Not this year. This year, candidates spoke from the floor, so that voices boomed out across the room, and no one could tell who was speaking. Except, in a futile act of favoritism (she lost) Alicia Mattson was allowed to speak from the podium in support of her candidacy, while every other candidate had had to speak from the floor.

"You are seeing here massive corruption to rig the convention, and it was our good fortune that massive corruption was defeated.

The May/June 2012 issue of Liberty for America is filled with other great news reports. I don't know that the issue is available on any website, but you can download a PDF copy here.

Phillies will also send you a free pdf subscription of his Liberty for America, filled with libertarian news. To subscribe, go to Liberty for America and click the Subscribe button.

1 comment:

George Phillies said...

Many thanks for your coverage!

All back issues of Liberty for America are available at

Liberty for America is the reincarnation of my prior magazines Let Freedom Ring!

and Libertarian Strategy Gazette