Steve G.

Barr loses West Virginia ballot access lawsuit

In Activism, Courts and Justice System, Law, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Wayne Allen Root on September 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm

The Honorable John T. Copenhaver Jr., judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston) has ruled against LP presidential nominee Bob Barr with regard to the ballot access lawsuit.  Barr needed to collect and submit 15,118 signatures by August 1, 2008, but only submitted 13,171 signatures by that date.  The signature requirement is based upon 2% of votes cast in the 2004 general election.

Barr’s claim is that the petition requirements are unduly burdensome, and thus violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  The campaign submitted 1,097 signatures on July 24th, and 1,866 signatures on July 31st (72.09% validity).  The campaign additionally submitted 10,208 signatures on August 1st, and 10,652 signatures on August 20th; however, since it was clear that the campaign had not met the requirement by August 1st, the August signatures were not submitted to county clerks for validation.

In its decision, the court ruled that the signature and date requirements are not unduly burdensome upon candidates, as multiple candidates have met the requirements, including the LP.  In 2008, it has been met by one third party for its presidential candidate (Constitution Party), and one independent presidential candidate (Ralph Nader).  Further, the court ruled that it would be unduly burdensome upon the elections office to expand the date by which signatures must be permitted, due to restrictions upon their time in light of their other duties, including the requirement that absentee ballots be mailed not less than 42 days prior to the general election, or in this case, by September 23rd.  Once the signatures are submitted, they must be validated by county clerks by comparing signatures on the petitions to signatures in their voter database, which is in itself a time-consuming process.

In ruling against Barr the court noted that, had the campaign started collecting signatures only two to three weeks earlier, the criteria would have been met, and also noted that the LP could have started collecting signatures at any time, since there are no time restrictions for ballot access petitions in that state.  Bill Redpath (LNC Chair) testified that it was a strategic decision to put off collecting signatures in West Virginia.  The court however noted that the Libertarian Party was well aware of the requirements, since the date requirement has been in existence since 1986, and the signature requirement has been existence since 1999; and that the LP simply chose not to collect signatures during a time frame which would result in a successful ballot petition process.  The court also noted that the LP started collecting signatures in a nearby state (North Carolina) in 2004, but didn’t start collecting signatures in West Virginia until 17 to 19 days prior to the deadline for petition submission.

Redpath also testified that the rural nature of the state impedes petition efforts, but the court disagreed, noting that there is no reason why petitioners cannot simply gather signatures in the 11 most populous counties, each of which has a major city, and which together comprise 50% of the state’s total population of 1.8 million.

The Court additionally noted that the pool of potential petition signers is unlimited in West Virginia, as anyone registered to vote can sign a petition, petitions can be circulated at any time, voters can sign as many petitions as they wish, and voters are not bound to the candidate whose petition they have signed.  Also, the court noted that the petition process itself is not unduly complicated, in that petitioners need not be West Virginia residents, and there is no notarization requirement.  Multiple third-party and independent candidates have met the requirements in 2000, 2004, and 2008; and the LP met the requirement in the last general election in 2004.

The court ruled that the failure of Barr/Root to be placed on the ballot for November was caused by their own lack of reasonable diligence, and not by the West Virginia state petition requirements.

The LP paid nothing for WV ballot access, as the entire cost was borne by the Barr campaign according to the Court’s decision.  It is unknown whether the LP paid for the failed lawsuit.

The 34-page decision has been uploaded to LFV, and readers are encouraged to read the decision for themselves as it sets forth quite clearly what went wrong in West Virginia.  The decision, in PDF format, can be seen and downloaded here: decision-in-barr-v-ireland-wv-ballot-access

  1. Lovely logic. It wasn’t burdensome before, because it was met (never mind that the two are mutually exclusive) so it isn’t now?

    Did this judge pass remedial crayon?

    I have heard an argument that petitioning for ballots for federal offices are unconstitutional. The binding precedent is US Term Limits vs.Thorton.

  2. The judge’s point is that Barr/Root didn’t even make a good-faith effort to get on the ballot in that state. I think the judge is right, given that Barr allowed only 17 to 19 days to collect 15,000 signatures, when they could have been collecting signatures since the day he was nominated and not doing so was a “strategic” decision. As the judge pointed out, had they simply given it an extra couple of weeks, they’d have had no problem getting the necessary signatures.

    Candidates can’t refuse to even give it a reasonable try, then claim that the requirements are unduly burdensome when other candidates don’t seem to have any trouble meeting the same requirements. That will never fly in a court of law, nor should it. As an attorney, Barr should know that.

    Then again, we’re dealing with an attorney who filed a frivolous $30 million lawsuit because someone exercised their First Amendment rights, so maybe he doesn’t know it.

  3. WV and the other ballot access failures this year were all preventable. Additionally, the LP was very lucky it did not get challenged in some of the challenge states.

    I have a lot more to say along those lines but will hold off.

  4. Shane Cory and Russel Verney deserve 100% of the blame for the failure of the petition drive in West Virginia. They, and they alone CHOSE to fail in WV, by acting delusionally, and frivolously wasting LP donor ballot access contributions.

    1) Cory prevented me from bringing enough petitioners into WV to finish the job.
    2) Cory listened to the advice of his demented and spiteful “friend” Eric Dondero about “how to run a petition drive” (Dondero’s advice included telling Shane that I should not be allowed to help bring in additional petitioners, because I was “no good as a petition coordinator”. Cory repeated Dondero’s words to me on many occasions, so their source was pretty transparent.)
    3) Instead of “coordinating” the ballot access drive (ie: doing things that coordinators do, such as hiring additional petitioners, and bringing them into the state, and getting them locations where they would not interfere with each other), Shane decided that ‘now was the time’ to test his theories on ballot access: ie: running expensive radio and newspaper ads in a futile attempt to recruit quality petitioners out of the locals. This never works (unless your candidate inspires people as much as Ron Paul did, in IL), and did not work for Shane. Of course, any fool can see that a conservative strategy should be pursued when one has 3 weeks to gather 30,000 signatures.
    4) As late as 1 week into the drive Cory rejected the idea of bringing in an additional professional petitioner. He told this petitioner that “option a” was “off the table”, but that his “option b” would be acceptable. Here are the two options:
    option a): fly the petitioner out to WV from CA, with an orbitz package deal that would have allowed that petitioner to be productive the instant he landed, since it included a rental car and hotel for $850 total.
    option b): have the petitioner drive out from CA in his own car, for $600 in reimbursable gas money. (Causing him to waste 3 days on the road, with only 14 days left before the deadline!!!)
    5) Shane is not competent as a petition drive coordinator. He repeatedly told me “Jake You know that you’re not good with people” and “Jake, we don’t want you coordinating, we want you petitioning!” (I don’t need a title. Call me Santa Claus if you want to, if I offer you direly-needed help, you should take me up on it.) Moreover, I was hired by the Ron Paul campaign to manage Ron Paul’s SUCCESSFUL paid primary petition drive in IL (in the middle of Chicago’s winter), and REHIRED to work on the final successful portion of the Ron Paul Indiana primary petition drive. On top of that, I coordinated work in Texas in 2004, and the workers “under me” or “coordinated by me” produced 10,000 signatures for the 2004 LP ballot access drive.

    BTW: The Barr campaign, (Russel Verney backing up Shane Cory) has still not paid me the $3,106.77 that they owe me (for signatures that I handed in, and expenses that I am owed). I will now be forced to hire lawyers to sue them.

    They were able to front a partial expense reimbursement to me when they were trying to get me out there, but somehow, they “lost my account information” when it came time to pay me for the work I had done.

    Shane claims that Mike Ferguson “fired me” on August 25th. Well, gee, if this is true, then why didn’t Mike Ferguson inform me of this fact when I turned in my signatures to him on August 1? Shane claims this in order to have some kind of alleged justification to defraud me. He apparently has no desire or interest in paying me the money.

    And why would he? I’m the person who knows how grossly unprofessional his conduct in WV was.

    Incidentally, he and Russell Verney recently agreed by email to pay me PART of what I am owed from their campaign (If I would sign a statement that I have been paid in full).

    Well, sorry guys, that’s a crap deal, and I will never agree to remain silent about being defrauded in order to get “partial justice”.

    The only real justice will come when Russell Verney and Shane Cory are fired, and never ever allowed to work in politics again. There is no way I will ever be silent about their incompetence and abuse. They have already completely reneged on their oral contract, and they instantly had reneged on their promise to provide a written contract.

    I guess their desire to avoid a paper trail of accountability was too great. But I won’t help them avoid online documentation of their incompetence and fraud ..I’ve seen where that has gotten other LP petitioners who were defrauded by Scott Kohlhaas in NE in 2006 (Purchased silence in exchange for damage control simply sends the message to coordinators like Haugh, Kohlhaas, Cory, and Verney that it’s OK to defraud petitioners, and make up any story you like after the fact). Verney and Cory are two petty frauds, who can’t seem to do anything but burn donor money.

    (Anyone who doubts this, should ask themselves:

    How likely were we to win the WV lawsuit, when both Nader and the Constitution Party ran rational ballot access drives and made it on the ballot in WV with room to spare?

    and

    Why did Shane repeatedly and irrationally turn away my help in bringing in additional professional petitioners to WV?

    and

    Why did he waste tons of money trying to recruit local petitioners when there were professional petitioners who were waiting to come into WV?)

    And now to address my critics:

    Shane Cory feels badly about me as I do about him, because in his mind, he did everything he could to get WV on the ballot. But I will show that this is simple fantasy of someone who is grossly incompetent to deal with other people:
    1) Shane alleges that my signature count was low, and it (very slightly)was. I agreed to shoot for 100 signatures per day. (Dondero had apparently convinced Shane that I would do 200-400 per day, –which is delusional– but even if I had, it would not have saved WV). I averaged 87 signatures per day over the course of the drive. Not great, but not unacceptable (to anyone other than Shane Cory).
    2) Shane stated (after the drive) that all the other petitioners had higher signature counts than I did. Maybe this is true. If so? Great, …but totally irrelevant to honoring my contract. BTW: I can get much higher signature counts too, if I am not checking to see if people are registered to vote (and thus providing invalid signatures). I must also note that Shane refused to inform me that a location I had attempted to get permission at, and had handed off to Austen Petersen at the Libertarian National HQ was opened up and the other petitioners were informed of this, but I was not. Apparently Shane didn’t feel it was necessary to pass communications from the LP HQ on to me.
    3) Verney called me on the last week of the petition drive, demanding that I do a “daily turn in” of signatures to Shane Cory. Since neither he nor Shane give the slightest shit about petitioners in their employ, they informed me that they were considering pulling the plug on the petition drive, and said so to me (presumably meaning that I should shoulder the financail loss of their ability to plan. They, of course, would be paid in full for all of their expenses and “coordinating”).
    (Hot tip guys: if you promise someone pay, and take them to a jobsite, and then tell them you’re considering shutting down the job, you might not get very accurate responses from them about how well the job is proceeding. Interestingly, my response was accurate, but I was treated like a child and talked down to as if it wasn’t. Interesting!) At that point in time, Russell Verney told me that I was to perform a daily “turn-in” to Shane Cory. (Shane is the same guy who was always freaking out and blowing up and losing his cool, and violating every aspect of his contract, and throwing repeated temper tantrums.) This “daily turn in” would have placed a huge burden on my ability to gather signatures and was thus unacceptable to the terms of my employment, in addition to wasting further gas, which I would never be reimbursed for, since Verney and Shane are simple con men.

    The best reason, of course, not to perform a time-wasting daily turn in to the irratoinal and “stressed out” Shane Cory was because neither Shane nor Verney seemed to comprehend the idea of an “average”. For example:
    If I agree to average “around 100 signatures per day”, and a petition drive is 10 days long, then that means that I can collect 200 signatures on the last five days (and zero on the first five) if I am an independent contractor, or I can collect 100 signatures per day. If my signature count was low, and I only had irrational temper tantrums to gauge Shane Cory’s response with, then why would I subject myself to being further defrauded by him?

    I opted to not communicate with him any longer, and simply honor my contract, since he had long since violated his contract. Moreover, although he had promised to send me a written contract, he failed to do so, meaning that we had no basis for communication. Rather than be a man, and admit this, Verney chose to back up Shane Cory, since he is a con man.

    My averages were slightly low, because Shane had failed to “pay my expenses as they were incurred” (as he had agreed to) and desired to micromanage my life (as if I was his underling in the military) while I was in WV.

    …On top of that, I’m actually a libertarian, and went out there to make sure that Wayne Root was on the ballot for VP, because I think he’s a solid libertarian and a worthy candidate. (Unfortunately for the LP ballot access donors, Shane Cory wouldn’t allow him on the ballot.)

    For pushing the WV drive into failure, when success was in easy grasp of any reasonable and calm person, Cory and Verney have earned my eternal ire and undying criticism. I don’t think I’ll accept their hush money, since their goal of causing me to pay late fees on the rental car has already paid off. Typically, when people are offered “hush money” that amount of money is in excess of what they are OWED. For that reason, I’m hoping I can find a lawyer who wishes to cost the Barr campaign some money, and who wishes to pursue gross negligence against Cory and Verney.

    And while this might seem vindictive, let’s learn a lesson from this: Malfeasance in any political campaign reflects poorly on any candidate that tolerates it. Let’s not have any repeats of this kind of BS in 2010, 2012, and beyond.

    A political party that is truly libertarian is a just and worthy goal, and well within grasp of competent people like Bill Redpath.

    There have been calls to oust Bill Redpath. I do not support this course of action. I have been wronged by the people that Redpath has hired and deferred to, but I have never been wronged by Redpath. I believe him to be a fair and honest person, when given half a chance.

    It is up to the LNC to inquire about these events, and to present the information to Bill in a calm and unbiased manner. (I am available for comment at 907-250-5503.)

    BTW: I may not always agree with Angela Keaton, but the prohibition on LNC members writing on blogs does not seem to be a good idea. I welcome comments from Sean Haugh, Shane Cory, and Russell Verney that are exposed to the scrutiny of the general LP membership and LP donors.

    I think that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it is much needed in our party at this time.

    Did I mention that I am available for comment at
    cell# 907-250-5503?

    I am also at jcwitmer@hotmail.com

  5. Shane claims that Mike Ferguson “fired me” on August 25th.

    I believe you meant to say July 25.

    I think you would be well served to prepare an executive summary of the above so someone besides me, Andy and one or two other people will actually read it.

  6. Barr’s claim is that the petition requirements are unduly burdensome, and thus violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The campaign submitted 1,097 signatures on July 24th, and 1,866 signatures on July 31st (72.09% validity). The campaign additionally submitted 10,208 signatures on August 1st, and 10,652 signatures on August 20th; however, since it was clear that the campaign had not met the requirement by August 1st, the August signatures were not submitted to county clerks for validation.

    Somehow the manpower and funding existed to collect over 10,000 signatures after the state deadline, at the same time as several New England states either failed or came close to failing due to an alleged lack of petitioners.

    In the meantime several of us were told to go work Alabama (which finished well ahead of time with several weeks to spare), or to go somewhere a whole lot hotter even then here.

    That’s some manpower crisis!

  7. Obviously, Barr was going to lose his WV lawsuit. After all, the CP and Nader had no trouble getting on the ballot in WV, and they started way earlier than we did, and ran vastly more professional drives. (And even at the end of the drive, they accepted my offer to circulate for them, when Shane “superstupid” Cory stated that we were not to circulate their petitions, and they “were not to circulate ours”. What an idiot! If you have virtually zero time to complete a petition drive, and you have a large number of professional petitioners on the ground and already productive who are willing to help out for very little money, then YOU TAKE THEM UP ON IT.)

    Oh, and by the way, here’s an update:

    Bill Redpath actually had to threaten Shane Cory in order to force Russell Verney to pay me _part_ of what I was owed by the Barr campaign for my work in WV. They owed me $3,106.77, Shane paid me $2259.96, after I paid my lawyer $100 for a demand for payment. Verney insisted that my lawyer continue to press them for payment, and Shane paid for that self-abuse out of pocket, under pressure from Redpath. (Is this constructive use of Barr campaign funds? Was wasting money on legal fees after they failed, and on newspaper and radio ads before they failed a good use of funds that could have been bringing petitioners into the state? Not to mention the fact that they continued collecting signatures after Aug 1. …Duhhrr.)

    I hope that this illustrates what a lowdown, stupid, and venal bastard Russell Verney is: that he would rather spend donor money reneging on payment for work that had already been completed, rather than simply make payment. Is there any possible positive way he could spin his actions? …Not without lying about what happened.

    Russell Verney was adamant that they renege completely on their oral contract to me, after the guy he trusted (Shane Cory) to get WV on the ballot spectacularly failed to do so. The written contract that I was supposed to get in my email was never sent by Shane, nor did Shane do any of the basic things that a ballot access coordinator should do, while running a petition drive. Verney’s answer? “Don’t pay Jake a dime of the money he is owed”, (since I refused to perform a time-wasting and extra-contractual daily signature turn-in to the insanely incompetent Shane Cory.)

    Russell Verney is not a libertarian (and also not a decent human being). His liberal use of fraud to achieve his desired goals proves that.

    Shane Cory is not even slightly competent at running petition drives, and is also a hysterical nincompoop.

    Their resumes belong in the “abject incompetence” file at LP headquarters, right next to Sean Haugh’s.

    The two old friends Scott Kohlhaas and Eric Dondero are not incompetent, but they are of a low character, and regularly use what positions and titles they can attain to manipulate people behind their backs. They both love petty power and go to the highest bidder. People like that are the reason that politics is corrupt: people look at it as a “career” without caring which political group hires them.

    The solution is obvious then: those who are abusive of basic human decency get one more chance, after the LP defines what is considered decency: this allows Kohlhaas and Dondero to come back and work for the LP (as they no doubt will anyway), but only as independent contractors.

    I’m now at the point where I believe that noone who works for the LP should ever be given a paid title without first undergoing a long and very productive trial period as a paid independent contractor. …It only goes to their heads, and the LP is not able to pay competitive wages, otherwise Sean Haugh would never have been hired. They should first do the work they are going to be doing with the title, on a temporary short-term contract. The contract should come up for renewal every 2 months or so.

    Too few checks and balances, too little error correction is possible, in a party that is error prone.

    There simply has to be an effective way at getting rid of jerks like Sean Haugh, Shane Cory, and Russell Verney before they can do their full level of damage. Heirarchy lines should also be clear (and when a superior is unable to be reached for any reason, that should be an indication that that superior needs to go: as in the case of my not being able to reach Russell Verney while success in WV was still physically possible, on July 18.)

    Sincerely,

    Jake Witmer

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