[Lnc-votes] [Lnc-business] Dangerous & Inappropriate Proposal to make LNC Chair a Paid Position

Dear LNC members,

  I am frankly appalled to see the message below from the new executive director floating a major policy proposal on the LNC list, to have his boss (the chair) start being paid at party expense. With all due respect, I think the executive director is seriously overstepping his bounds and has made a major breach of ethics.

  The chair appoints somebody to a well-paying position, and then this person turns around and advocates that the party start to pay the chair? It doesn't take a Mueller report to see the huge conflict of interest in that. Nor does it stop there – it would likewise be a conflict of interest for LNC members to use party funds to start paying a professional salary to a member of their own committee.

  But even that doesn't reflect the full extent of the problem with this – I don't think the Libertarian National Committee even has the authority to make the change he's proposing in the first place. Turning the LP chair office into a paid position is something I believe would require a bylaws change by convention delegates, and for good reason: Such a move would be a significant change in party operations, a major further concentration and centralization of power at the top.

  Nick Sarwark is generally doing an excellent job as chair in my view, and I supported his reelection. But this is not about him – this is about the structure of the party and a proposal to alter that structure in a way that would set a terrible precedent. What would come next, paying the Secretary, the Treasurer, the rest of the LNC, and making them full-time employees too, putting more of our limited resources into overhead and attracting people to our party's leadership who are in it for the money or as a career opportunity rather than because they want to work for freedom?

  This is the path toward taking power in the Libertarian Party out of the hands of grassroots activists, and putting it in the hands of paid professionals. Staff members are not elected by our membership, and really should not even be on the LNC discussion list and debating policy proposals in the first place, unless all LP members are able to do the same. Paid employees are banned from being convention delegates, and there is a good reason for that; senior staff in particular have a disproportionate amount of control over party operations as it is.

  Having been on the LNC for two terms, I'm familiar with the pattern of committee members seeking to maintain good relations with staff in order to have more personal influence with them and how they carry out party operations on a day-to-day basis. This is in part because so much power is already concentrated in the position of party chair, who exercises nearly sole control over who is hired and who is let go, that other LNC members otherwise have little sway with staff, and consequently tend to be careful to preserve what influence they do have by seeking to stay on their good side. This is how things have gradually gotten to the point that multiple staffers are on the LNC list and increasingly feel empowered to inject their personal views into LNC discussions, with the executive director now floating a major (and I believe improper) policy proposal.

  I don't want to give the impression that I think this is mainly about poor judgement on the part of the executive director – although I do think floating such a proposal shows poor judgement, he is also new in the job. Probably nobody told him there's anything wrong with his weighing in like this, and he may have seen his predecessor and other staff similarly getting involved in policy matters. Likely he has a high opinion – probably justified – of the chair's fundraising abilities, and may have just thought he was offering a sensible, practical idea.

  But there is a lot wrong with it. I strongly urge LNC members not to go down this path, and further to set some institutional guidance for staff members to limit their participation in LNC matters, for the good of the Libertarian Party and the need to keep it a bottom-up organization, which adheres to the highest ethical standards. The LP must not be allowed to become another failed, top-down party like the Democrats and Republicans, run by those who are in it for the money and the power rather than by their grassroots members, because if that happens you can be sure it will also move away from being a libertarian party.

Love & Liberty,

((( starchild )))
Outreach Director, Libertarian Party of San Francisco*
Former LNC At-Large Representative (2012-2014, 2016-2018)
(415) 625-FREE

*The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of the LPSF.

Thanks you Starchild! Your message could not have been better. I am impressed that all of this went on the day of July 4 while people like me were not even awake!
How in the world could anybody approve of the LNC issuing any knid contract to their Chair?
thanks Starchild,
Harland Harrison

Thanks, Harland and Mike, for your kind words.

  So far, Caryn Ann Harlos and Richard Longstreth, two of the better members of the LNC in my view, have weighed in with their opposition, and Caryn Ann posted my remarks to the LNC list. Hopefully others in the national leadership will likewise recognize this as a bad idea, and also realize the need to rein in staff as discussed in my message.

Love & Liberty,

((( starchild )))