Link to the May 2023 Michigan Libertarian (Special Edition)
Lansing, MI – On April 1st 72* Libertarian Party of Michigan (LPM) Members attended their 2023 Regular Convention. This Convention was called by the Libertarian Party of Michigan Executive Committee (LEC) Chaired by Mike Saliba. The core functions of the convention were to Elect New Party Officers, consider amendments to the Bylaws, and to consider amendments to the Platform. All LEC officer terms end at Conventions that occur on odd-numbered years, and Bylaws may only be amended at Regular Conventions held on odd-numbered years. An additional item was to consider an investigation into alleged NDA violations, as was requested in a petition signed by over 10% of the membership.
Bylaws Fine-Tuned in Light of Recent Events
The Bylaws debate has become a routine biannual convention activity, however this year the bylaws took on a special significance in light of the on-going leadership conflict. Much of that conflict resulted from disagreements over ambiguities in the document.
One change was to explicitly identify state conventions on both odd and even numbered years to be regular, while continuing to have officer terms end on odd-numbered years. Bylaw amendments would continue to only be on odd numbered years.
Some other amendments clarified how vacancies were to be filled and by whom. This included having vacancies filled at regular conventions held on even numbered years and having the LEC fill vacancies between conventions. The bylaws also specified that notice of specific vacancies was no longer required. In 2022 the resignation of Chair and Vice Chair, shortly before the July 9th convention precipitated the current leadership crisis because the vacancies occurred too close to the convention to provide 60 days’ notice, of the vacancies to members.
The amendments also clarified the process for removing officers. As a non-profit corporation the Board (LEC in our case) can relieve an officer of duties, but not remove that person from office. A convention body may remove officers, however. The new bylaws permit convention delegates to remove any officer by a majority vote of no confidence. Under the new bylaws, officers may remove themselves immediately by resignation, or by missing three consecutive meetings.
Under the new bylaws the LPM has no standing Judicial Committee, instead, the bylaws establish a process by which a judicial committee is established to adjudicate a specific dispute. Delegates also voted to extended the prior-membership requirement, for eligible convention delegates, from 30 to 60 days.
Delegates Elect New Officers
Delegates elect officers to two-year terms at regular conventions on odd-numbered years. Following the resignation of elected Chair Joe Brungardt, elected First Vice Chair Mike Saliba had taken on the roll of Chair. Delegates elected him to Chair the Libertarian Party for a full term by acclimation.
Rafael Wolfe and Mark King faced off for the First Vice Chair (Affiliate director) position. Wolfe won with 47 votes and King 18 delegates voted for King. NOTA received a vote too.
Delegates elected Greg Stempfle to be Second Vice Chair (Political Director) by acclimation.
Delegates elected Jami Van Alstine to be Secretary, and Angela Thornton to be Treasurer by acclimation.
District caucuses elected the following people to be District Representatives:
1st: Remains vacant
2nd: Jay Gillotte
3rd: Ari Abraham
4th: Andrew Duke
5th: Brian Ellison
6th: Mark King
7th: Lisa Lane Gioia
8th: Adam Childress
9th: Kyle McCauley
10th: Remains vacant
11th: Joe Brungardt
12th: Remains vacant
13th: Gregg Smith
For the first time in LPM history, delegates elected no Judicial Committee. Since Delegates amended the bylaws to replace the standing Judicial Committee with a process for appointing a temporary Judicial Committee on an as-needed basis
Lansing Delegates Stand on One new Platform Plank & a Notable “No” Vote
Delegates Reject Anti-Bigotry Amendment
Contextual note: Thus far the author has focused on the outcome of the convention, with defeated motions being left out. However this vote was notable given that some people view the untimely resignations of leading officers, like former Chair Chair Tim Yow and former Vice First Chair Ben Borren, as being the spark that ignited the current leadership crisis. The replacement of a clause in the pre-2022 Libertarian National Committee (LNC) platform that read, “We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant.” Motivated those and other resignations. That change was a key agenda item promoted by the Mises Caucus (MC). The split in leadership is largely along MC and anti-MC lines with Lansing Convention Delegates being primarily from the anti-MC camp.
Jim Fulner is the only delegate to participate in both the Wixom Special Convention (Chaired by Andrew Chadderdon), and the Lansing Regular Convention (Chaired by Mike Saliba). He moved to amend the platform to add a sentence to Article I Section 6 that would read, “We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant.” The proposal failed by a voice vote.
That section currently reads,
We oppose any form of discrimination by government based on race,
ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other group
or individual identification. Each person has the same inalienable
rights that the State has a duty to protect.
The debate was concluded with comments, against the amendment, from two Central figures in LPM history. They briefly came out of retirement for this convention. Tim O’Brien said,
I agree, personally, that I condemn racism as… , but what this party is concerned about what government does. If somebody is a bigot, I think they’re irrational, but that’s not what we’re here about. We’re here about government, and government discrimination…
Brass Roots founder Jon Coon commented,
Frankly I would be very surprised if every libertarian in this room couldn’t find a view held that wasn’t repugnant. This isn’t about what we view as repugnant, but what we intend to do (or not do) about political or social activity… Personally I find racism and bigotry to be repugnant (Make no mistake about it), but if you show me a racist who is willing to take the oath and not implementing anything ( regarding that feeling that they have) in the political realm… then your about to strike me down , but I found an ally, and I think if you look inside, you would agree.
One Plank Added
Fulner introduced another plan that won support of the delegates. It read,
All software purchased or developed by state employees in the performance of their duties, or run on government owned machines, should be published under the GNU Public License, or a similarly freedom respecting Free Software license
Unity Resolutions Fail, Libertarians United on Guns
Both Scotty Boman and James Fulner introduced resolutions calling for unification of the LPM leadership. Both called on as many Lansing delegates as possible to attend the Regular Convention, which will likely be scheduled for a date in July by the Andrew-Chadderdon-Chaired board. Fulner’s resolution made jabs at the other faction, with a bit of tongue-in-cheek commentary. While Boman’s resolution may have drawn a majority of support, they both failed to meet the two-third super-majority requirement.
A different resolution, introduced by Max Riekse passed unanimously. It read,
Resolved that the Libertarian Party of Michigan go on the record condemning in the strongest possible terms the recently passed unconstitutional anti-gun laws by the Michigan State Legislature; these laws do not give Michigan citizens due process and go against the spirit and meaning of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Straw No Confidence Vote
Mike Saliba introduced a motion that had the effect of seeing how delegates would have voted had they been at the Special Convention being held in Wixom by the Andrew Chadderdon team. It read,
Whereas the petition to remove Andrew Chadderdon is no longer necessary, this body affirms they would have voted to remove him if given the opportunity to do so.
The motion passed with 58 delegates voting in favor, and 4 delegates voting against it. While the 58 votes solidly exceeded the attendance of the Wixom event, they would have fallen short of the two-thirds needed to remove him.
A Historical convention with Historical Personalities
The 2023 LPM convention was exceptionally well attended with 72 people registered, 75 total attendees and 71 total delegates. A few came out of their retirement from politics to participate in this convention at an existential time in LPM history. This included the re-appearance of the media-savvy Tim and Nancy O’Brien, as well as Brass Roots founder Jon Coon and his wife Renee. Tim and Jon appear in this video:
at the 13 minute mark Coon calls out his establishment opponents saying, “Leadership is not division, it’s unity… that’s number one: Quit driving a wedge and do the things we all know will make a difference first.”
Another special moment was a visit from Future of Freedom Foundation founder Jacob Hornberger. He is currently a candidate for President. Other candidates were invited, but he was the only candidate available to attend.
Detailed minutes of the convention are available here:
Videos of the business meeting are here:
* 75 Libertarians attended the convention with the highest delegate count being 71. When votes were counted there were typically 66 voting delegates. The addition of other guests bought the total attendance to 75.
Link to the May 2023 Michigan Libertarian (Special Edition)