Libertarian Party of Massachusetts Leadership Controversy 2022
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Towards the end of 2021 and leading into 2022, a schism developed between some members of the Libertarian Association of Massachusetts (LAMA) which is also referred to as the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts leading to a group of members who become known as the "Mass47" or "47Mass" to petition the LAMA State Committee for a special convention as permitted under the LAMA Constitution for the purpose of conducting a recall election of the state committee. Two of the signatories were sitting state committee members themselves. The schism revolved mainly around a proposed "code of conduct" which these members feared would be used to silence dissent and stifle expression. An earlier expulsion of a member who used the Twitter handle of "Rothbirdian" (leading to her being known jokingly as the "mean bird") in part due to her vow to "troll" the state committee on social media being characterized as "violence" or "aggression" was viewed as a precursor to later expulsion under the pretext of an oppressive "code of conduct." In the background was the internal party controversies concerning the Mises Caucus Takeover. In response to the member petition for the special convention, all the petition signatories were expelled from the party in one motion conducted in a non-public session. Further complicating the matter was the fact that a national Libertarian Party staffer, Tara DeSisto, was a member of the state committee at the time causing some to claim that there was inherent interference and involvement of national in this situation and inappropriate conduct of Ms. DeSisto which she categorically denies. Ms. DeSisto resigned her staff position as Development Director with the national Libertarian Party effective March 31, 2022 but maintained her seat on the LAMA state committee who's legitimacy was in dispute by the expelled members by that time. All sides viewed the schism very differently, and their own actions as justified under the circumstances.
On January 23, 2022, the LNC held an electronic meeting to hear issues surrounding an impending controversy regarding the leadership of the Libertarian Association of Massachusetts.
Since no specific motions were noticed, Joshua Smith called for an electronic meeting to take place on February 6, 2022, to take up this issue in the form of the following motion to be considered (the “Smith/Bowen motion”):
WHEREAS, the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) conducted a meeting on January 23, 2022 to gain information and hear from multiple parties in the dispute in its affiliate in Massachusetts, and
WHEREAS, 46 members of the Libertarian Association of Massachusetts (LAMA) exercised their right to petition for a special convention of the members of LAMA, and
WHEREAS, on January 10, 2022 the LAMA state committee expelled every member who signed the petition, and
WHEREAS, the expelled members, along with an invitation to all state members, remain committed to holding a special convention
WHEREAS, the expelled members forwarded a petition to the LNC for relief on January 11, 2022, and
WHEREAS, the LNC has agreed to meet on February 6, 2022 to consider motions for remedies.
IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that at the meeting on February 6, 2022, the LNC discuss and consider motions on the following remedies:
1. Move that the LNC encourage members of the LAMA State Committee who voted to expel members to rescind the expulsion.
2. Move that the LNC acknowledge the legitimacy of the petition for a special convention and encourage members of the LAMA State Committee to adhere to the petition request and hold the requested special convention.
3. Move that the LNC, in the event the LAMA State Committee refuses to abide by the recommendations above, provide contact information for every Massachusetts national member and resident Libertarian in its possession to a designee of the petitioners to provide notice via email for the special convention.
4. Move that the LNC, following the special convention, recognize the results of the elections by the Massachusetts members in attendance.
5. Move that the LNC, in the event the LAMA State Committee refuses to abide by the recommendations above, recommend to its successor to immediately take up consideration of the issues surrounding the expulsion of 47 members as soon as practicable after the adjournment of the 2022 national convention.
On January 30, 2022, Motion 20220130-22 was sponsored by Adams, Bowen, Ebke, Nekhaila, and Raudsep (the “Adams motion”) which differed considerably from the Smith/Bowen motion as follows:
Whereas, Leaders of the Libertarian Association of Massachusetts and Libertarian Party of Delaware disenfranchised political opponents primarily for internal political reasons, rather than individual behavior warranting discipline, depriving such individuals of their rights to participate and vote on party affairs; and
Whereas, There is serious doubt that officers and delegates to be chosen by such affiliates will be legitimately selected and representative of the respective affiliate’s entire membership; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Libertarian National Committee hereby instructs its appointees to the Credentials Committee of the 2022 National Convention to vote to omit from its report of the initial credentialed list of delegates those individuals sent by the aforementioned affiliates, and report the disputes to the Convention, so that the remaining body of uncontested Convention delegates can decide whether and whom to seat from each respective affiliate; and Further
Resolved, that the LNC Executive Committee is hereby empowered to rescind some or all of this motion, in the event that the aforementioned affiliates timely restore the membership rights of those who were disenfranchised.
The Adams motion failed by a vote of 5-10-0-2. During the pendency of the Adams motion, the required number of LNC members cancelled the electronic meeting previously called by Joshua Smith and thus the Smith/Bowen motion was never heard. On March 23, 2022, a new resolution (the “Bowen/Ford resolution”) was put out by Rich Bowen and fully sponsored that day by Bowen, Hogarth, Moelllman, Nekhailla, and Raudsep as follows:
RESOLUTION TO RECOGNIZE THE RIGHTFUL STATE COMMITTEE OF THE LIBERTARIAN ASSOCIATION OF MASSACHUSETTS(LAMA)
Whereas, on December 19, 2021, LAMA membership submitted a petition for a special convention to conduct a recall election of the LAMA State Committee;
Whereas, the petition contained greater than the 10% of valid member signatures required for a special convention in accordance with Article 2 Section 5 of the LAMA Constitution;
“If 10% or 500 (whichever is less) of the current dues paying membership signs a petition requesting a special state convention, and mails or presents the petition papers to the state committee, the state committee must organize a state convention to be held between 30 and 60 days of the date of delivery of the petition to the state committee.”
Whereas, the petition was submitted with an agenda, as required by the following Constitutional provision;
“The petition shall specify the agenda of the special state convention, and the state committee may, by majority vote, append items to the end of that agenda, but may not otherwise change the agenda.”
Whereas, on January 10, 2022, the response from the State Committee to the properly constituted petition was to expel en masse all petition signatories, in violation of basic member rights, due process, and Article 1 Section 3 of the LAMA bylaws, which allow for expulsion of “a person from membership” (not mass expulsions).
“The State Committee may for cause by 2/3 secret ballot vote of the entire State Committee expel a person from membership in the Libertarian Association of Massachusetts; an expelled person must receive a 2/3 secret ballot favorable vote from the State Committee to rejoin.”
Whereas, the vote to expel LAMA members was taken during a supposed State Committee meeting that had no agenda, thus denying targeted members notice of any proposed action against them and an opportunity to defend themselves, and the meeting was called to order in closed session, against longstanding custom (their parliamentary authority does not address the topic at all), and contrary to the public notice given;
Whereas, among the wrongfully expelled were two State Committee members who were denied any access to due process, in violation of Article 4 Section 10 of the LAMA Constitution;
“The State Committee may by two-thirds vote of its entire membership expel a person from the State Committee, for cause, after affording the accused reasonable access to due process.”
Whereas, a member of that State Committee who has not been a resident of Massachusetts for close to a year, cast their vote for the expulsion, in violation of Article 4 Section 8 and Article 1 Section 1 of the LAMA Constitution;
“To be elected or serve as a member or officer of the State Committee, a person must be a Member of the Organization whose dues are current.”
“Members are all dues-paying members in Massachusetts, and all other persons who may so qualify under uniform rules of non-dues paying membership for which the State Committee may provide in its Bylaws.”
Whereas, two duly elected members of the 2021 LAMA State Committee did organize and conduct the special convention as is required by Article 2 Section 5 of the LAMA Constitution and provided notice to the extent possible given deliberate obstructive actions and omissions by former State Committee members;
Whereas, a new State Committee was elected at that special convention on February 26, 2022, in accordance with the LAMA Bylaws Article 2 and the LAMA Constitution Article 2 and as specified on the submitted agenda, with the positions now filled as follows;
Andrew Cordio, Chair
Charlie Larkin, Treasurer & Archivist
Scott Gray, Recording Secretary
Jason Brand, Membership Director
Janel Holmes, Political Director
David Burnham, Operations Director
Thomas Eddlem, Communications Director
Brodi Elwood, Technology Director
Daniel Garrity, Fundraising Director
Whereas, the newly elected State Committee has set and noticed their annual convention for April 24, 2022, at which time the State Committee for the next term, and national convention delegates, will be elected;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Libertarian National Committee recognizes the results of election at the special convention and the State Committee elected therein.
Please note that an extensive timeline was submitted along with the Bowen/Ford resolution to support the contentions made and is attached hereto as Exhibit 1. (The most timeline was updated over time and the most current one is here.
On March 23, 2022, John Phillips raised a Point of Order claiming that the motion was in violation of the Bylaws of the national Libertarian Party (without specifying a particular bylaw but rather just vague inferences about autonomy and interference). Contrary to the long-standing custom of the LNC in which fully sponsored email ballots proceed onward pending a ruling of the Chair so that time is not wasted and the “clock run out,” no ballot was ever started in this matter. On March 24, 2022, the Chair ruled that the Bowen/Ford resolution was Out of Order as violating Article 5.5 of the Bylaws of the national Libertarian Party which was appealed by Joshua Smith for which Ballot 20220325-01 was opened to determine whether or not to sustain the ruling of the Chair.
Documents Submitted to the LNC
- Email from Chair Ashley Shade to LNC regarding mass expulsion
Proceedings before the Judicial Committee
- Amended Appeal to the Judicial Committee dated April 3, 2022 with signatures
- Cordio's Notice of Filing Exhibit 1 to the Appeal
- Supplement to Appeal of Cordio dated April 9, 2022
- Notice of Filing Supplemental Signatures dated April 9, 20022 in support Cordio petition
- Misc Chain of emails to and from Party members and the Judicial Committee dated April 10-11, 2022
- Amended First Appeal to the Judicial Committee dated April 13, 2022
- Email chain with Judicial Committee beginning April 15, 2022
- Verification of signatures dated April 16, 2022
- Response of the LNC to Cordio Appeal dated April 22, 2022
- Email chain with Judicial Committee dated April 23-25, 2022
- Supplement to Cordio Appeal dated April 26, 2022
- Reply of Andrew Cordio to Response to LNC dated April 27, 2022
- Amicus Brief of George Phillies regarding ballot access dated April 28, 2022
- Comments of Ken Moellman in support of Petitioners April 29, 2022
- Comments of Nolan Pelletier in support of Petitioners April 29, 2022
- Amicus Brief of Caryn Ann Harlos in support of Petitioners April 29, 2022
- Amicus Brief of Steve Dincher in support of Petitioners April 29, 2022
- Amicus Brief of Caryn Ann Harlos in support of Petitioners May 1, 2022
- Amicus Brief of the Libertarian Party of Vermont in support of Petitioners May 1, 2022
- Supplemental Response dated May 2, 2022 to LNC to the Cordio petition
- Amicus arguments of Caryn Ann Harlos, Don Graham, and Nolan Pelletier from email thread dated May 2, 2022
- Notice of filing support of county affiliates dated May 3, 2022
- Comments of John Dixson in support of Petitioners May 3, 2022
- Amicus Brief of Brodi Ellwood in support of Petitioners May 3, 2022
- Additional Response of Cordio and Harlos to LNC dated May 3, 2022
- Amicus Brief of Caryn Ann Harlos in support of Petitioners May 4, 2022
- Amicus Brief of Ann Reed in support of Petitioners May 4, 2022
- Response dated May 4, 2022 to Don Graham to Amicus Brief of Caryn Ann Harlos
- Decision Dated May 6, 2022, in first appeal.
- Second Appeal of Cordio Board dated May 9, 2022
- Email from Judicial Committee dated May 10, 2022 notifying parties of second appeal
- Amicus Brief of Peter Everett in support of Respondent May 10, 2022
- Response of Whitney Bilyeu dated May 10, 2022 regarding her MA convention appearance
- Email dated May 10, 2022 between Caryn Ann Harlos and the Judicial Committee
- Response of LNC dated May 17, 2022 to Second Cordio Appeal
- Email dated May 12, 2022 from Don Graham to Brodi Ellwood regarding recession of expulsion
- Response of MA Graham Board to Second Cordio Appeal
- Decision dated May 17, 2022 in second appeal
Other Relevant Documents
- January 2022 Petition for Special Convention that caused mass expulsion of signatories
- Minutes from January 10, 2022 Board Meeting mass expelling members
- Correspondence dated January 27, 2022 from Parliamentarian Caryn Ann Harlos to LAMA Board
- Notice of Shade Board meeting February 7, 2022 to discussion mass expulsion of members
- Convention minutes for the special Member Convention on February 26, 2022 that elected Cordio Board
- Minutes from March 2, 2022 Board Meeting electing interim Board
- Annual Convention Minutes April 24, 2022
- Postcard for April 23, 2022 convention of non-recognized party
- Parliamentary Opinion of Jonathan M. Jacobs dated June 4, 2022
- Resolution of non-affiliate MA group to disaffiliate dated June 6, 2022
- Blog post from Todd Eddlehem of the Massachusetts affiliate after Reno Convention dated June 7, 2022
Outside Misc Commentary and Materials
- Caryn Ann Harlos created many videos on this situation contained within this YouTube playlist.
- Former LAMA State Committee member and former LNC staff member Tara DeSisto stated the member petition for a special convention was an act of aggression.