In re: The Suspension of Caryn Ann Harlos
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At the September 4-5, 2021 meeting of the Libertarian National Committee, Caryn Ann Harlos was suspended from her position as Secretary of the national Libertarian Party by a vote of 11-2 with one abstention pursuant to a presented by Laura Ebke. Voting "Yes": Erin Adams, Whitney Bilyeu, Laura Ebke, TJ Ferreira, Tim Hagan, Susan Hogarth, Chris Luchini, John Phillips, Richard Longstreth, Valerie Sarwark, and David Sexton. Voting "No": Rich Bowen and Dustin Nanna. Ken Moellman abstained. Absent: Erik Raudsep and Joshua Smith who were both confirmed "no" or "abstain" votes (though as the vote required two-thirds of the entire LNC, rather than two-thirds of those present and voting, it would not have changed the outcome if they were present.) A controversy arose when alternate David Sexton showed up after the departure of Steven Nekhaila who was a confirmed "no" or "abstain" vote without notifying Mr. Nekhaila that he intended to do same. If Mr. Sexton had not appeared, the motion would have failed. Supporters of the motion state that this was perfectly acceptable. Caryn Ann states that it was certainly legal but characterized it as "trickery" and maintained that she was improperly removed as a whistle-blower and without due process as required under the Party Bylaws which follow Robert's Rules of Order which have extensive due process protections prior to the removal of a Party Officer. Meeting video is located here. Harlos thus claimed the title of "LNC Secretary-in-Exile" and claimed to continue to do the duties of office to the extent she was able to without official LNC recognition. Caryn Ann appealed her suspension on the following grounds:
- Failure to provide adequate due process
- Failure to provide evidence of action that rises to the level of a removable offense
- Failure to substantiate allegation that Petitioner violated the Non-Aggression Pledge
- Failure to substantiate allegations that the Petitioner violated the social media policy or the conflict of interest policy in the Policy Manual in effect at the time of the suspension
- Retaliation against a whistleblower
- Dirty hands on the part of the accusers
She announced she would be running in Reno for either re-election or re-instatement. She also claims she had received more emails in support than anyone else in Party history, claiming the number is over 1,000.
Hearing Date: October 17, 2021
At the hearing, Judicial Committee Chair Mary Ruwart strongly urged the parties to resolve this between themselves prior to a ruling. To that end, immediately after the hearing Caryn Ann Harlos contacted Whitney Bilyeu but did not receive a response. Due to the short time frame, and presuming Ms. Bilyeu was tied up in other matters, Ms. Harlos approached other LNC members, notably Steven Nekhaila to work out proposed language for a compromise.
Request for Settlement Prior to Ruling
Judicial Committee Chair Mary Ruwart with great feeling asked the parties to resolve this between themselves prior to the JC releasing a decision. To that end, Caryn Ann Harlos wrote to Party chair Whitney Bilyeu right as the hearing ended and did not receive a response. She then reached out to Steven Nekhaila, Rich Bowen, Erik Raudsep, Joshua Smith, Dustin Nanna, and Ken Moellman and hammered out a compromise motion which was presented to the LNC. It was ruled out of order multiple times for procedural reasons with people disagreeing on whether or not the reasons were sound or designed to kill the motions. Susan Hogarth raised a point of order the first time the motions were presented but did not re-submit the point of order on subsequent introductions. Caryn Ann Harlos and the LNC sponsors have made it clear that the compromise motions were made due to the Ruwart request and for the good of the Party. Chris Luchini indicated that he would only accept a compromise that involved Harlos resigning and going away, and he would "let" her keep her committee seats. Virtually no one responded positively to that suggestion though those discussions were in private and not on the business discussion list.
You can view the LNC discussion threads with the language of the proposed motions as they evolved and the debates here. The last iteration is waiting full sponsorship. The Judicial Committee has stated it will release its decision on November 13, 2021 if a settlement is not reached by November 12, 2021.
Representing the Petitioner
Representing the LNC
Filings of Petitioner Caryn Ann Harlos
- , , and
Filings of LNC
Filings of Amicus Curiae
Other Related Documents and Filings
Videos of Hearing
Commentary on Suspension
- Caryn Ann Harlos: (NSFW - Language): Utter Corruption on the Libertarian National Committee: Be in Reno to Take Back the Party -RECEIPTS!
- Caryn Ann Harlos: Let's Examine the LNC Kangaroo Court of a Suspension Motion
- Caryn Ann Harlos: Welp. The LNC Lied to the Judicial Committee
- Caryn Ann Harlos: I lost my JC appeal - some brief words
- Dave Smith: The Railroading of Caryn Ann Harlos
- Former Libertarian Party of Kansas State Chair Ned Kelley: Our Response to CAH's Removal
- Libertarian Dad DL Cummings: The Curious Case Against the LNC Secretary
- Justin O'Donnell: The Arrogance of the LNC
- Steven Nekhaila: Caryn Ann Harlos Removed
- that she maintains should have been prepared by LNC. In her own words she prepared it in comic sans font to reflect the "clown car circus" that was her suspension
- Affirmed 4-2-1. Two dissenting opinions written submitted with majority opinion. .
Commentary on LNC Action and JC Decision
Filling of Vacancy
She delivered this message to the LNC as they were considering filling the alleged (her words) vacancy:
Nominations were opened on November 26, 2021, and the following were nominated:
- Caryn Ann Harlos nominated by Erik Raudsep.
- Shawn Lavasseur nominated by Richard Longstreth.
- Steve Scheetz nominated by John Phillips and David Sexton.
- John Wilford nominated by Laura Ebke and Chris Luchini.
- Tyler Smith nominated by Alex Flores.
John Wilford was elected by a vote of 10-6 with the Chair abstaining.
Voiding of Decision
At the National Convention 2022, Brodi Ellwood, delegate from the Libertarian Association of Massachusetts raised a Point of Order stating there was a continuing breach of the Party Bylaws in the removal of Harlos due to the denial of the due process rights. Acting Convention Chair Ken Moellman (who was then the Party Vice-Chair and was presiding due to illness of the Party Chair Whitney Bilyeu) ruled the Point of Order not well-taken. Ellwood appealed from the ruling of the Chair. Upon appeal, the ruling of the Chair was overturned, and the Point of Order was deemed well-taken resulting in the removal of Harlos as the LNC Secretary being declared retroactively null and void (See RONR 23:6).
This action raised a question as to the status of John Wilford who was elected by the LNC to fill the presumed vacancy and whether or not any decisions of the LNC would be in question. Moellman stated that the only circumstance in which that would ever be a factor was in votes that passed or failed by one vote. There were no votes of continuing effect or importance that fell into that category. Further the current LNC could always ratify past votes if needed. Wilford thus effectively served honorably as Secretary Pro Tem during this retroactive period, and Harlos remained LNC Secretary for the 2020-2022 LNC Term.
Harlos was re-elected at the National Convention 2022 in a race against Wilford with over 70% of the vote.
A scholarly article using the voiding of the Harlos removal as an example of correcting a continuing breach of the rules was published in the American Institute of Parliamentarian's Parliamentary Journal, Vol. LXIV, No. 2, August 2023, titled "Pascal's Wager and the Continuing Breach."
Reactions to Re-Election and Vindication
- Exile and Restitution of Caryn Ann Harlos and What it Symbolizes for the Libertarian Party published May 31, 2022 by Sean Dempsey