If you’re confused and feeling overwhelmed by all the bile being spilled around the issue of disciplining Libertarian National Committee At-Large Representative Angela Keaton, you’re not alone.
Flood Fails to Show Harm to LP
LNC Region 4 Representative Stewart Flood is accusing Ms Keaton of disloyalty to the LP, engaging in reckless behavior, violating executive session and threatening violence against him.
While Mr Flood convinces that Ms Keaton has acted unprofessionally, he fails to prove that her actions have harmed the LP. In fact, I only find a demonstrated potential for harm in one of his charges. Mr Flood’s case does not warrant the removal of Ms Keaton from the Libertarian National Committee.
However, his brazen attempt to distract the LP from the cause of advancing liberty does constitute “conduct injurious to the Libertarian Party”.
Charges go Back to June
I first thought that the controversy surrounding Ms Keaton had originated at the September LNC meeting when she, in the course of live-blogging the meeting, was accused of releasing sensitive information from LNC executive session.
Now that Mr Flood has released both his charges [PDF] against Ms Keaton and his evidence in support of those charges [PDF], it’s apparent that the displeasure with Ms Keaton goes back to at least June of this year.
Do the Charges Warrant Removal from the LNC?
Since the national LP bylaws don’t define what the causes for removal from office are, we can only rely on our own judgments.
In the first paragraph of Mr Flood’s resolution, he claims that “Angela Keaton has engaged in conduct injurious to the Libertarian Party and its purposes”. I submit that this is the standard by which his charges should be judged. Do her alleged actions injure the LP and it’s purposes? Let’s see.
Breach of a Board Memberâ€™s Fiduciary Duty of Loyalty
Does an LNC member have a duty to be loyal to the LP. I’m not convinced of this fact and I’m unable to find any reasoning by Mr Flood to support this implicit contention.
“The LP is hopeless”
for seeking to undermine the success of and attempting to injure the Libertarian Party and its public image by posting on her blog in July 2008, “Friends donâ€™t let friends join the LP” and on September 5, 2008, “The LP is hopeless”
Given that “the LP is hopeless” is a sentiment shared by many and logically supported even by this latest round of internecine battles (including Mr Flood’s own resolution) and given that Mr Flood has failed to establish any such duty of loyalty to the party, I don’t find this worthy of disciplinary action.
Some members of the party I dare say would even applaud Ms Keaton for this statement, treating it as a wake-up call that the LP is off course and needs a correction.
Supporting the Boston Tea Party
for violating the fiduciary duty of a board member by joining and providing material support to a competing political party while serving on the board of the Libertarian Party
The competing political party appears to be the Boston Tea Party, a tiny libertarian party that is as much about competing with the LP as it is reforming it. Many, but not all, members of the BTP are also LP members. Some might even consider it a caucus within the LP.
Ms Keaton is a member of the national and California Boston Tea Party Facebook groups and on both is listed as an officer, her office being “ultimate antiwar activist”, which is more an honorific than an actual party office.
Has the Boston Tea Party actually caused any harm to the LP? Not that I can find. In fact, it endorsed many Libertarian Party candidates in this year’s election.
What about those LNC members who voted to allow Ron Paul’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination to use BallotBase? Was that not material support of a competing political party?
What about Bob Barr, the 2008 LP Presidential candidate and an LNC member from 2006 to 2008? He runs a PAC that donates generously to Republican candidates, even in races where the LP has a candidate. Mr Barr has provided a lot of very material support to a political party that is directly competing with the LP in multiple races across the country. Instead of a motion to censure, he got our presidential nomination.
I discard this accusation because Ms Keaton has not provided any significant support to the BTP, the BTP has not injured the LP and because her alleged offense pales in comparison to that of Mr Barr.
Verdict: FAIL (Barr did worse.)
Sabotage of NH-Phillies Lawsuit
for attempting on August 21, 2008 to sabotage the partyâ€™s attempt to win the right to candidate substitution for future elections
This alleged sabotage consists of an email sent to LP NH Chairman Brendan Kelly with an appeal to
Do the right thing. Say ‘No’ to this Libertarian Drama. Don’t join this action.
The action in question is a lawsuit to remove Dr. George Phillies from the presidential ballot in New Hampshire. Ballot access expert Richard Winger says the lawsuit is part of “a historic struggle for minor parties to get the same substitution rights that the major parties enjoy”. Others argue that since Mr Barr was already on the ballot in New Hampshire, the only end result of the lawsuit would be to kick Dr Phillies off the ballot.
Defining sabotage as the “undermining of a cause”, and assuming that the right to substitute candidates is a cause important to the LP, this charge against Ms Keaton is reasonable.
However, according to former LP NH executive committee member Seth Cohn, there was not enough support among the leadership of that party in any case. The LP NH leadership had already discussed – and rejected – supporting the lawsuit, even before Ms Keaton contacted Mr Kelly.
Therefore, while I find this accusation to be valid, I don’t think it meets the standard of having done harm to the LP, since Ms Keaton’s plea did not change the outcome.
Verdict: NO HARM DONE
Claiming Root to be Indicted for Fraud
for attempting to injure their public images by knowingly publishing on June 13, 2008 false assertions that an indictment on charges of fraud was pending against Mr. Root
This is based on an email authored by Ms Keaton in which she says:
if the party can survive Andre Marrou, it can survive a possible Root indictment
I think Mr Flood is making a mountain out of a mole hill here. And Ms Keaton’s supposed accusation did not get any press beyond IPR. What’s more, when you can find comments like the below online via a Google search for “Wayne Allyn Root fraud”, what Ms Keaton said just doesn’t compare.
Wayne doesn’t even believe he can win, this is just that scam he knows he can make coin in so he does it. He runs boiler rooms and is total marketing. #
This accusation fails on all counts.
Verdict: IT WAS A JOKE
Misusing Donor Data
for misusing donor data to contact major LP donors and falsely telling them that the Libertarian Party had defrauded them
On November 6, Ms Keaton sent an email to the LNC Discussion mailing lists that included the following statement:
I have started to contact the donors that Mr. Starr and I visited to apologize for my role in any deception on the part of this body with regard to the actions of Cory, Barr, Redpath and others. The money was accepted under fraudulent circumstances. They thought they were giving to the Libertarian Party to propagate libertarian ideas in the form of libertarian candidates.
Mr Flood’s first assertion rests on the assumption that Ms Keaton’s phone calls to donors were outside the established limits for the contacting of donors. Where can we find such limits defined, if anywhere? Mr Flood does not say.
His second assertion requires that one decide whether or not Bob Barr is in fact a libertarian. This is a matter of some contention, and rightly so.
For us to accept this entire charge, we would need proof that Ms Keaton actually did what she said, but Mr Flood has not provided that.
In order to determine if Ms Keaton’s purported actions harmed the LP, we would need to know if any donors she may have apologized to decided to donate less or cease donating or supporting the LP or persuaded others to do the same. Mr Flood does not provide any information on this.
Verdict: NO HARM DONE
Pattern of Reckless Behavior and Poor Judgment
Unwelcome Sexual Comments about LPHQ Staff Member
for violating the LNC Policy Manual Article 1, Section 8.D and risking sexual harassment accusations by blogging on September 6, 2008, “Nice staff piece of ass, Casey. Dark, young and easy prey for a cougar like myself.”
Here is LNC Policy Manual Article 1, Section 8.D
Any interaction which might be interpreted as abusing the apparent employer-employee relationship must be avoided. This applies to interactions of LNC members with staff, and is to be extended to interactions with any consultant hired by the LNC.
Inappropriate and unprofessional? Undoubtedly. However, this was not an interaction, but something published online. This section of the LNC Policy Manual does not apply.
However, the Article 1, Section 8 discouragement of “unwelcome comments about a personâ€™s body” may apply. According to LP Director of Operations Robert Kraus, Mr Hansen was embarrassed by the comment, which could mean it was unwelcome.
I think this accusation has merit and there is a definite potential for harm to come to the LP as a result of this.
Publishing Derogatory Photo of Treasure Starr
for violating LNC Policy Manual, Article 1, Section 8.D (which prohibits harassment of LP staff or fellow LNC members with racial epithets and derogatory posters, pictures, cartoons, or drawings) by posting on her blog on June 16, 2008 a photo-shopped image of herself and Mr. Starr portraying him in Darth Vader costume and Hitler moustache and identifying him as â€œDarth Herr Vaderâ€
Is the picture at right derogatory (tending to lessen the merit or reputation of a person)?
Comparing someone with Hitler is definitely derogatory, so this charge is valid. But it does not meet the burden of having done harm to the LP.
Verdict: NO HARM DONE
More Sexual Comments
for violating LNC Policy Manual, Article 1, Section 8.D and risking sexual harassment accusations by posting on her blog on September 6, 2008 sexual comments regarding several LNC Members and one candidate for the Executive Director position
Ms Keaton wrote and allowed to be published the following online in the course of live-blogging the September LNC meeting.
… the stunning blond alt Heather Scott.
Donny Ferguson [candidate for LP Executive Director] is here as well. I felt him up once when I was drunk. Reform Caucus people are so uptight.
The Admiral keeps staying hello. Must be the dress. #
LNC Policy Manual, Article 1, Section 8.D deals with behavior towards employees of the LP, however none of the three persons referenced are employees of the LP.
This charge fails on all counts.
for violating LNC Policy Manual Article 1 Section 8.A which states, â€œAll collective deprecation, whether alluding to sex, race, color, national origin, disability, age, religion, or any other protected category, must be avoided. Every person is a unique individual, and as the Libertarian Party is the Party of Individual Liberty, this injunction should doubly applyâ€, for posting on her blog on June 13, 2008 referring to an LP member from the South as a â€œhillbillyâ€ and further stating, â€œAll those Christian types married to their uncle cousins look the same to me.â€
Read, digest and remember that if the party can survive Andre Marrou, it can survive a possible Root indictment*, our leadershipâ€™s male menopause and that thick legged hillbilly girl they tried to put on the LNC, Mattson, her name was or something. I donâ€™t know. All those Christian types married to their uncle cousins look the same to me.
However her use of the word “hillbilly” is not for collective deprecation. She called someone a hillbilly, but she did not comment on the collective of hillbillies.
Her statement about “Christian types” remotely sounds like a collective deprecation, but who is she belittling and what for? “Christian types married to their uncle cousins” is the group she is naming. They all “look the same” is the comment.
Are there actually any members of this group “Christian types married to their uncle cousins”? I suspect not. Saying that a group of people all “look the same to me” is widely considered deprecation, though.
While the comment is unprofessional, I don’t think anyone has actually been deprecated. If I say that “all blue idiots from Formalhaut look the same to me”, it may be collective deprecation, but since we don’t know if such beings even exist, I have done nothing wrong. In fact, many would consider it a joke.
This charge fails to show that the LP has been harmed, since we don’t even know if there are any members of this group that Ms Keaton belittled.
Violating the Confidentiality of Executive Sessions
In both cases, one must ask if the information really had any business being protected by executive session in the first place.
Disclosing Accusation against Her
for violating the confidentiality of the September 7, 2008 Executive Session with a blog post on the same date
Ms Keaton has claimed she was justified in releasing this information (read all about it here) because, among other things, there was not a legitimate executive session in place when the information was disclosed to her.
Stephen Meier makes a detailed argument that, based on the minutes of the September LNC meeting, there was no valid motion to enter executive session. Chuck Moulton and M Carling – who were present at the meeting in question – claim the executive session was entered according to the rules.
In any case, even if we accept that the executive session was valid and the information was privileged, Mr Flood fails to explain how its disclosure harms the LP.
Disclosing Personal Criticism
for violating the confidentiality of a February 2008 Executive Session with a blog post on June 15, 2008
Apparently, this is the information that Ms Keaton released.
To BetteRose Ryan, … Starr, Carling and Cory were savaging you in an executive session over the Shotgun Willieâ€™s booth. Starr insisted that it scared off other vendors. #
I’m not sure why disclosure of this information required executive session, but even if it did, Mr Flood fails to demonstrate how its disclosure harms the LP.
Threatening Stewart Flood
for threatening by phone on November 6, 2008, “I could have things done to you.”
Ms Keaton has not denied this charge but neither do we have any evidence of its veracity beyond Mr Flood’s own word. If true, this is unprofessional behavior. But I don’t see how it hurts the LP.
Verdict: NO HARM DONE
Keaton has Angered Multiple Factions
A complicating factor is that Ms Keaton has managed to anger multiple factions, resulting in a kind of perfect storm. Reformers are eager to get rid of a radical. People who like to do things secretly are eager to get rid of a whistleblower. Party loyalists are upset when she criticizes the LP publicly. Petitioners are alienated because she sided with Political Director Sean Haugh against them. Radicals aren’t exactly rallying to her defense, at least not the three leaders of the radical caucus. In fact, on the Radical caucus mailing list some of us have talked about who to replace her with.
Ragged Band of Defenders
Her principle defenders appear to be personal friends, members roughly aligned under a banner of reform and transparency in the LP, people who have or are seriously considering dropping out of the LP, Outright Libertarians and others who are simply opposed on principle to removing a popular and twice duly-elected rep.
State LPs Express their Opposition
Several state affiliates have passed resolutions in opposition to Mr Flood’s proposed resolution, including Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Nevada and Massachusetts.
The Outright Libertarians released a statement urging their members to oppose Mr Flood’s resolution, saying “we have determined that this witch hunt is more about the ideology of Angelaâ€™s attackers than about Angelaâ€™s own behavior.”
There is even a proposal to suspend national LP Chairman Bill Redpath instead.
Is this Worthy of the LP’s Time?
Personal attacks like this will inevitably cause controversy and arouse the opposition. If you’re going to do it, why not make an airtight case? Anything less is a brazen attempt to waste people’s time and harm the organization.
I submit that Mr Flood has done more harm to the LP in this last week with his largely unsupported and frivolous accusations than he accuses Ms Keaton of doing. Mr Flood should withdraw his resolution immediately so that the LP can focus on advancing liberty in the United States, its real – and only genuine – purpose.
- IPR and Last Free Voice both have ongoing and extensive coverage.
- [email protected]: D-Day: Brief notes, part 1
- Because absudity is obviously foreign to registered parliamentarians….
- Agenda San Diego LNC Meeting
- Blogging Libertarian Secrets
- M Carling plays word games at Last Free Voice
- Angela Keaton