I am honored to have been given permission by Dr. George Phillies to post a full chapter from his excellent book, “Funding Liberty” , right here on Last Free Voice. I will be posting Chapter 17, “Arizona, Land of the Two Libertarian Parties”, in multiple entries. This is part two. Part one is here.
Dr. Phillies has a doctorate in Physics from MIT, and is a Professor of Physics and Game Design at the prestigious Worcester Polytechnic University. A longtime Libertarian activist, Dr. Phillies is currently the Chairman of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party, and was a popular candidate for the Libertarian Presidential nomination for 2008 where his concession speech – pointing out that the enemy is outside the Libertarian Party – has been hailed as one of the greatest moments (and most inspiring speeches) of the 2008 Libertarian Convention.
A link to purchase this book, as well as to purchase other books by Dr. George Phillies, is at the bottom of this entry.
Historical Notes on Arizona Libertarianism
The Libertarian Party of Arizona was founded in 1975, and put its first candidates on the ballot in 1976. One of these was Michael Emerling (Cloud), who ran for U.S. Congress in Tucson and received 2.4% of the vote. The Party progressed and grew. Its 1989 State Chair was Peter Schmerl, who was a Pima County activist. By 1990, one can identify early strains of the disputes between the Party’s two factions. An article written by Michael Cloud and distributed by the Marrou campaign explained why Party candidates should take matching funds if available. Other Libertarians have expressed the contrary view. The issue refers back to the Non-Initiation of Force statement, which will be discussed in this Chapter’s Appendix.
The Arizona Party continued to grow. Cloud moved to work for the Marrou for President (Libertarian, 1992) campaign. On September 1, 1991, Cloud appeared in Chicago before the Libertarian National Committee, reiterating the campaign’s desire to work closely with the National Party. In particular, addressing the LNC he indicated that ‘the campaign’s books are open for our (the LNC’s) inspection at any time’ and ‘all new names obtained during the campaign would be considered the co-property of the LNC and would be turned over to both the national and state parties’. In 1992, Cloud and the Marrou campaign went their separate ways.
By 1996 the Presidential Campaign which Cloud had for a time directed was associated took a different stand. The 2300+ names and addresses of Browne donors cost the Libertarian National Committee more than $58,000 dollars to acquire.
In 1994, Arizona Libertarian John Buttrick ran for State Governor. He was later a Libertarian National Committee member and in 2001 was appointed as a judge by sitting Republican Governor Jane Hull. The Phoenix Party by this date was vigorous and active. It opened its own office, and covered expenses in part by raffling off a series of assault rifles and other weapons. The choice of raffle items gained significant public attention. The first conflict between the Phoenix and Tucson disputes reportedly happened in late 1994, with a dispute over ownership of a bank account held in the name of the Arizona Libertarian Party. The money eventually returned to the Phoenix group.
In 1995, the Tucson group invoked their interpretation of the laws covering internal party organization (ARS 16-521 to 525) to form the “Arizona Libertarian Party State Committee” and filed with the Arizona Secretary of State under that name. Arizona does not have laws restricting political parties from using extremely similar names, so there was room to disagree as to whether the ALPSC was the current Arizona Libertarian party, or was a new Party that had a name highly similar to the name of another, older Party. In April 1995, the Libertarian National Committee weighed in with a letter to the Tucson group, demanding that they stop using the name. The Tucson group continued to use the name. The LNC did nothing further to defend control of the name ‘Libertarian’.
1995 brought the first of a series of Party State Conventions at which disputes over proxies, By-Laws, and Rules of Order became prominent. 1995 also brought the first intervention by the LNC in Arizona State Party affairs, in the form of a proposal by the National Party for a party registration drive. Phoenix group State Chair Tamara Clark sent a letter expressing the State Party’s gratitude for assistance, but expressing concern that the registration drive might not be competently run, in which case the State Party might take the blame. The State Party asked that it have direct control of the effort or that National Party give the State Party a ‘hold harmless’ statement. The Phoenix group did not view a registration campaign as the most effective use of activist efforts at this time.
Voter registration instead became part of the Kahn for Mayor campaign in Tucson, which by report received $50,000 in state Clean Elections funds, and apparently used the larger part of those funds to register Libertarian voters. The National Party apparently provided manpower for the effort. The Tucson group then launched the first of a series of lawsuits to establish its claim to be the legitimate State Party.
The National Committee staff was highly responsive to the Tucson group. When in 1998 the leadership of the Tucson group claimed to the National Committee that they had secured control of a merged state party, the name of their claimed state chair immediately appeared on the National Party web site as the true state chair. When the Phoenix group told the National Committee Staff that the National Committee had been misinformed, at that someone else was state chair, the National Committee Staff refused to make the correction or withdraw the name of the listed chair. It continued to list the Tucson group’s state chair on its web pages. Given the dispute, an impartial National Party could have noted on its web pages that there was an internal Party dispute in the state, and then listed either both State Chairs or neither State Chair. The pages instead listed only one State Chair, even after the National Party’s attention was called to the issue. Thus, prior to the LNC action on the affiliation issue the National Party had already intervened in the Libertarian dispute in Arizona, supporting one side over the other.