Oregon LP Faces Serious Rift

From OregonLive...

Several Oregon Libertarians are trying to recall the state chairman, alleging misuse of party money and violation of bylaws.

Roughly 200 dues-paying members will receive petitions in the mail this week, said party member Mark Vetanen. They need 15 percent - or 30 signatures - to launch a formal recall vote.

Among the allegations by Vetanen, former state chairman Dan Wilson and recent former treasurer Teresa de Bellis is that current Chairman Adam Mayer allowed the party’s executive director, Richard Burke, to funnel money from a business convention into his consulting company. They also allege that Brad Fudge was nominated to run against House Speaker Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village, in violation of the party’s bylaws.

Mayer dismissed the effort as grumbling by longtime troublemakers, adding that Wilson and Vetanen had dropped out of the party two years ago before signing up again last week. Mayer also said Fudge was re-nominated in accordance with party bylaws, although he was eventually disqualified by the state for other reasons.

The party’s convention committee recommended to the state committee, which decides policy, that Burke handle the logistics of organizing its annual business convention, Mayer said. The state committee agreed to delegate the task and Burke, through his personal consulting company, put up the money for the event, he said.

Burke “took the loss, or he took the profit,” said Mayer, who has served five years as chairman.

The Libertarian party is the third-largest party in the state, with 15,000 registered voters. Four years ago, its gubernatorial candidate Tom Cox received nearly 5 percent of the vote - more than the margin by which Republican Kevin Mannix lost to Democrat Ted Kulongoski.

6 Responses to “Oregon LP Faces Serious Rift”

  1. Seth Says:

    Those of us who have followed Oregon’s LP internal politics for years are not surprised… this is nothing new, and frankly, I suspect likely grounded in fact, but unlikely to go anyplace. Oregon’s LP failures is one reason I moved to NH as part of the Free State Project, and never looked back.

  2. Stuart Richards Says:

    Hmm, this is troubling. :

    I hope the truth prevails and the faulty party ceases their ability to cause problems in the future.

  3. Bruce Alexander Knight Says:

    Vetanen and Wilson are longtime troublemakers? Mayer and especially Burke have been at it longer.

    Burke was also running the party in 1995 when the very first LPO recall petition was submitted. His (and his hand picked officers’) refusal to conduct the recall split the party into competing State Committees, led to a series of contentious judicial hearings with contradictory outcomes, and resulted in his faction’s ouster at the ‘96 business convention. Members’ outrage also produced a special bylaws convention in January ‘97 which adopted measures designed to ensure that future officers could not ignore recall petitions.

    Burke regained control of the LPO in ‘99 and has run it ever since. Since July of that year, paid membership has declined 75%.

    I am a longtime activist with a 4-digit national membership number, a 3-time unanimous congressional nominee, a former state secretary and chair, and one of many Oregon libertarians who will not give a dime to any organization which employs Richard Burke.

  4. Bruce Alexander Knight Says:

    Despite a clear conflict of interest, at today’s regular meeting the LPO State Committee appointed Richard Burke (one of the officials to be recalled) to determine the actual number of current LPO members. Burke said, “Richard Whitehead, my membership director” could not update the membership list while Burke was in Ukraine, so the list of 216 members provided to the recall petitioners “was obsolete.”

    Under LPO Bylaws recall petitions must include valid signatures numbering at least 15% of current members as of the petition’s official submission (which occurred today). The State Committee has no specific written procedure to validate recall petition signatures, but will attempt to do so anyway.

    Asked how many members he thinks the party actually has now, Burke declined to be specific but said, “I can’t imagine the number being over 400.” Interestingly, 46 is less than 15% of any number much over 300.

    As I type this afternoon, Burke is expected to be arguing to the LPO Judicial Committee that as Executive Director he is not a “director” under LPO governing documents, and should therefore be exempt from recall.

    Stay tuned for more “honest mistakes” by Burke and his apologists.

  5. Bruce Alexander Knight Says:

    This week the LPO’s not-recallable-because-he-is-not-a-director Executive Director Richard Burke found that the state party had 271 dues-paid members as of last Saturday (when the recall petition was submitted). Burke also disqualified 7 of the petition’s 46 signatures, leaving 39—just under 15% of 271.

    More “honest mistakes”: Oregon’s Elections Division this week found a discrepancy of over $6100 in LPO Treasurer Christiana Mayer’s financial reports. The standard fine (yet to be assessed) would equal the amount of the discrepancy, and additional penalties are possible. The Treasurer (who is also Chairperson Adam Mayer’s wife) is personally liable for any fines under Oregon election law. The Mayers have been part of Burke’s inner circle since joining the LPO a decade ago.

    Expect another recall petition with many additional signatures to be submitted at the next LPO State Committee meeting Saturday, October 21.

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