Libertarian Party of Michigan Leadership Controversy 2022-2023

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Summary Narrative

The timeline of events with documents are provided below.

Following changes to the Libertarian Party National Platform at the 2022 Libertarian National Convention, Brian Ellison introduced a resolution to the LPMI Libertarian Executive Committee on June 14th. This resolution failed. After the meeting is concluded, LEC district representatives Brandon Waryzbok and Jamie Van Alstine tender their resignations from the board. The next day, Chair Tim Yow and First Vice-Chair Ben Boren resign in turn. At that time, Andrew Chadderdon was second vice-chair and automatically ascended to the chairmanship.[1] On July 9, 2022, the LPMI held a (candidate) Nominating Convention during which Mr. Chadderdon ruled that filing the board vacancies was out of order due to failure to give proper notice of filing these vacancies as well as notice of the Motion of No Confidence against him which was intended to be introduced. His ruling was appealed, so he voluntarily relinquished the chairmanship of that meeting only so he would not bear responsibility for what he believed was a blatant disregard of the bylaws and rules. The vacancies were filled, and there was a vote of No Confidence against Mr. Chadderton which removed him as Second Vice-Chair. This motion was not timely noticed to the membership but was noticed to the Executive Committee on June 19, 2022, which would have been timely if the motion has been heard at an Executive Committee meeting, not the convention. The vacancies were filled as follows: Joe Brundgardt as Chair (elected as First Vice-Chair and then auto-ascended to Chair), Mike Saliba as First Vice Chair, Mary Buzuma as Second Vice Chair, Rafael Wolf as District 6 Representative, John Elgas as District 8 Representative, Greg Stempfle as District 9 Representative, Kyle McCauley as District 10 Representative, and Scotty Boman as District 14 Representative.

Mr. Chadderdon appealed his removal and the election of persons to fill the vacancies to the LPMI Judicial Committee reiterating the arguments he gave at the convention to the delegates, thus, though not required due the fact that these violations were in the nature of a continuing breach of the bylaws, his objections were on record and made at the time of the breach. His appeal was granted, and he was restored to his position, and the elections to fill the vacancies were voided. The major issued on appeal dealt with the character of the Nominating Convention (and thus the type of business that can be conducted therein) and notice requirements with the question hinging upon whether or not said convention was a regular convention. The appeal was granted on the grounds that the Nominating Convention was not, per the bylaws, a regular convention at which any item of business could be taken up (including filling vacancies and the Motion of No Confidence) without notice. It was further noted that even if it were a regular convention, filling officer vacancies required noticed pursuant to the Party's parliamentary authority. Multiple parliamentary opinions were submitted, and they all were in agreement that the filing of the vacancies was improper, regardless of whether the Nomination Convention was a regular meeting, a special meeting, or a species of special meeting created by the Bylaws. The parliamentary opinions were divided on the issue of the propriety of the vote of No Confidence which all hinged upon the nature the Nominating Convention. A number of the member submissions in support of the original actions noted that filling vacancies and other actions were done at Nominating Conventions since they were added to the bylaws in 2017, but there is clear direction per the parliamentary authority that notice is required to fill vacancies, and there was no division in parliamentary opinions on that issue. While it was argued that it was intent of the makers that the additions of the Nominating Convention and National Delegate Selection convention was to add additional regular conventions[2] and while intent is persuasive in reconciling ambiguities, the Judicial Committee decided that such an interpretation was not in concert with the rest of the bylaws and would render other bylaws absurd and violate absentee rights. Despite the argument that it was the prior custom to do other business, but custom and prior interpretation falls in the event of a successful ruling that said custom or past interpretation violates the parliamentary authority or the bylaws[3]. A further question was raised after the fact about a potential improper application of the rules on delegate qualifications, but this was not part of the appeal and it appears it needed to be raised at the time of accepting the Credentials report, though this has not been the subject of any official opinion or investigation.

Like many disputes, it is possible always for people of good faith to disagree, and the process in the LPMI to resolve these issues is through the Judicial Committee, and it is the prerogative of every parliamentary society to have its own processes for resolving and deciding interpretations of its own bylaws. The full arguments of all sides that were part of the record are linked in the timeline records below.

The Bylaws that were in effect are found here: Bylaws Adopted June 26, 2021 (info)

On April 8, 2023, the LNC authorized the filing of a trademark lawsuit against the unrecognized group after they refused to attend a special convention of the recognized affiliate in Wixom, MI, on April 1, 2023, that was called at their request, but instead held an illegitimate (under the MI bylaws) alternative convention on the same date but different location (Lansing, MI), effectively solidifying the split into an alternative party which is not authorized under the national Party bylaws to hold itself out as an affiliate nor use the party name. While some considered the decision controversial, the past LNC had already authorized a trademark lawsuit for an infringing local group in Virginia, which lawsuit was pending at the time of this decision and could have been prejudiced. The group in Virginia (Tidewater Libertarian Party) was allegedly a pro-Trump group and had been previously disaffiliated by the Libertarian Party of Virginia on those grounds. This is not the first and second times the national Party has sued on trademark grounds, but had a previous case against the state of Washington years previously, so despite some recent disagreement, any representation that this is something new is not warranted. Opinions on the validity or likely success are varied. No one from the unrecognized affiliate appealed to the national Judicial Committee under the recognized theory of constructive disaffiliation by the appeal deadline of March 18, 2023.

Since one group is recognized by the LNC and the other is not, the unrecognized group is referred to as rogue board as that is their status with regards to the national party. The unrecognized group disputes that characterization but do not dispute that they are not recognized by the LNC.


Additional key Documents will appear below in separate sections-rest of timeline will deal only with major touchstone events

Outside Commentary (Opinions Pieces)

Key Official District Court Documents and Events

Case heard before Judge Judith Levy in the Eastern District of Michigan

The Unrecognized Group appealed the granting of the Preliminary Injunction.

Key 6th Circuit Appellate Court Documents

Brief of Appellee is due by 1/3/24 with Response of Appellants due by 21 days following filing date.

Key Comerica Suit Documents

Key Post-Trademark Suit Documents from Recognized Affiliate

Key Post-Trademark Suit Documents from Unrecognized Group

References and Endnotes

  1. This matter of auto-ascension was part of the subsequent dispute.
  2. This is disputed by 2016 LPMI Chair Kim McCurry who is substantially in agreement with Mr. Chadderton's parliamentarian that the clear intent was to create several non-regular conventions to deal with specified topics and one of the reasons was so that any faction could ram through other business at these conventions such as stacking the Executive Committee (opinion statement)
  3. At past even year conventions, the Judicial Committee noted that the evidence showed that the consistent practice of the Party was to provide notice of filing vacancies with one exception in 2018.
  4. This is not a valid reason for what amounts to a removal motion under the LPMI bylaws which lists missing three consecutive meetings or breach of fiduciary duty as valid reasons.
  5. This petition for a specified date and time was not submitted in time to give bylaws-required notice to the affiliates and members. There are time-certain deadlines in the bylaws, not merely "reasonable notice" as interpreted by a member so that petition was ruled out of order. Note that Mr. Hall mistakenly refers to the date of the petition as July 29, 2022, when it was June 29, 2022.
  6. There were objections to this use of Party resources to do what some believed was an unfair characterization of motives.
  7. The unrecognized group noticed changes to the MI Bylaws (info) which were considered but are legally of no effect to the recognized affiliate.