Steve G.

New Hampshire lawsuit filed, seeks to remove Phillies from ballot

In Libertarian on September 12, 2008 at 8:42 pm

A reporter for the Nashua Telegraph has been calling libertarians today about a lawsuit filed in US District Court.

Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire Executive Committee are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.  However, this is not a typical ballot substitution action; instead, it is an action to remove George Phillies from the New Hampshire ballot.  This therefore appears to be the expected lawsuit previously discussed on Last Free Voice.

Bob Barr is the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee.  George Phillies was nominated as presidential nominee at the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire state convention.  Currently, both Barr and Phillies are ballot-qualified in New Hampshire as Libertarian presidential candidates.  The state does not allow substitution of candidates, and the New Hampshire Libertarian Party began collecting signatures for Phillies before Barr announced his candidacy.  Phillies has declined to remove himself from the New Hampshire ballot, citing his belief that he has an ethical obligation to those who signed the petitions to place him on the ballot.

As of this afternoon, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Garner had not yet been served with said lawsuit.

  1. And let the fun begin…

    Up until this point, George has been restrained by the fact that he is obligated by his word in the Mass. case that he would allow substitution, and that he is also the LPMA State Chair, and theoretically obligated to support substitution in MA by that office. He has, IMHO done a really good job of carrying out those responsibilities.

    He is under NO such restraint in NH…

    At this point, it is distinctly possible that he has more money to spend on a legal battle than either the Barr campaign, OR the LNC / LPUS…

    ART
    Speaking for myself

  2. […] reported by Last Free Voice: A reporter for the Nashua Telegraph has been calling libertarians today about a lawsuit filed in […]

  3. Does the madness ever end with the Barr campaign?
    What a waste of money on the LP’s part.

    Let George stay on the ballot, he’ll get more votes than Barr would anyway.

  4. it’s Gardner, not Garner.

    Part 2 of “Reasons why a NH lawsuit to remove George is a waste of time” coming this weekend. Suffice it to say that Snubgate’s taken up my little freetime left, along with a full day of Primary on the 9th, and other minor duties like campaign managering.

  5. This lawsuit doesn’t cost much money, and the purpose of it is to improve things for the future. The goal is not to get George off the ballot. The lawsuit was filed very late in the election season. If the goal had been to get George off the ballot it would have been filed much earlier.

    On the other hand, one can’t sue unless there is a real case or controversy, so the lawsuit must be written as it is written.

    In 1980, every state in the nation let John Anderson substitute a new vice-presidential candidate, except for South Dakota. Anderson only had to sue 3 states, and he won all his cases. In the 1990’s, most states extended that to presidential substitution also, but New Hampshire wouldn’t do it. We are trying to gain that right in New Hampshire, so that in the future we don’t need to waste money on two separate petitions (as was done this year). The double petitioning cost far more than this lawsuit is costing. Furthermore, if it wins, we get our money back.

  6. Hi, Richard. The final (and actual) effect, if the suit is successful, will be to involuntarily remove a ballot-qualified candidate. Though I take no stance on that issue one way or the other, the lawsuit is what it is. We can say it’s for ballot substitution, or color it any way we want, but the end result requested will always be the same.

    Honestly, at this point I’m just not sure about the wisdom or ethics on either side of the dispute.

    While this lawsuit may not cost the LNC much at this juncture, the cost may change very quickly considering the fact that George can file a motion to intervene under FedRCivP 24, which will undoubtedly be granted. The reality is that George may well have more funds available to defend against this lawsuit than the LNC has in its entire budget. Since he has sworn to fight it, the suit may end up costing the LNC a small fortune (which it does not have) and still not settle anything.

    I’m just not at all confident that the suit can be won at all, or won without effectively bankrupting the LNC. I am also concerned that the LP could be harmed far beyond monetary concerns even if the suit is won. I cannot imagine that George will not engage in discovery, and someone in his position knows a lot of dirt on the LP, the LNC, the LPNH, and LPNH ExComm. I don’t think I need to tell you that George can be quite vicious at times, and I suspect this will be one of those times.

  7. Go George!

  8. I don’t understand Richard Winger’s position, which seems to be consistent with his overall stance of supporting the Libertarian Party’s positions on everything ballot related, and opposing anyone else who has a differing view.

    He certainly can’t convince me that this lawsuit is about substitution, since Barr is already on the ballot, and needs no substitution. This lawsuit is about removing George Phillies and Chris Bennett from the ballot in New Hampshire. Which sort of makes Richard Winger, whose comments suggest he strongly supports the suit, a hypocrite. Ballot access for some, but ballot removal for others. Gee, Richard, is it because Chris is black? Or what exactly is your beef with the ballot qualified Phillies-Bennett ticket?

  9. The attorney for the NHLP is doing the case for a fixed sum. He is a very kind and gentle person. He has won more constitutional ballot access cases than anyone else in the U.S. He won the Ohio Libertarian court victory in 2006, that opened up Ohio ballot access this year so that Ohio has the most political parties on the ballot since the 1910’s.

  10. Richard: Thanks for that information, it’s good to know.

    John Amendall: Richard Winger is NOT a racist.

  11. Oops, misread that at first.

    It says “filed,” not “failed.”

  12. There have been 5 lawsuits over substitution before this year. John Anderson had 3 in 1980; an independent group had one in Virginia in 1989; the Libertarian Party had one in Florida in 1996. All five won. There would have been more substitution lawsuits, except that virtually every state we asked to approve substitution, in the period 1993-1995, said “OK.”

    This year’s substitution in NH is part of a historic struggle for minor parties to get the same substitution rights that the major parties enjoy. In 1972, every state let the Democrats substitute a new v-p candidate, after the original certification. Substitution is so well-entrenched for the major parties, the Minnesota Secretary of State let the Republicans substitute a new gubernatorial candidate only one week before the election! The state reprinted all its ballots to accomodate the Republicans. More recently, New Jersey let the Democrats substitute a new nominee even though that was done past the legal deadline for substitution.

    This year’s NH lawsuit seems different to many observers because George Phillies is not the typical stand-in. Traditionally, Ed Clark and David Bergland have been LP stand-ins for president and vice-president. It is too bad we didn’t use them for that purpose again this year. That would make the cases much easier.

    The NHLP nominated Mary Ruwart for president in April 2006, as a stand-in. Then it nominated George Phillies for president in April 2007. Whether the body made the nomination thinking of George Phillies as a stand-in, or as the permanent nominee, seems unclear to me. I have asked the NHLP state chair, Brendan Kelly, if there are any written minutes from the April 2007 meeting. He thinks there are but says there has been so much turnover in NHLP state officers, he doesn’t know who has those minutes. Everyone has a right to be a candidate, but there is no right to be the nominee of a party if that state party doesn’t want that person to be the nominee. At the national convention, New Hampshire cast 9 votes. George Phillies received 3 votes in each rollcall. That, plus the NHLP’s decision to file the lawsuit, seems to indicate that the NHLP does not currently consider George Phillies its presidential nominee. The NHLP desires to be on peaceful and good relations with the national LP. The national LP bylaws require its state affiliates to place the nominee of the LP national convention on the November ballot, and the NHLP is trying to do that. And every political party has the right to prevent the state from listing someone on the ballot who is not the nominee of the party, or even someone who was nominated against the party’s wishes by outsiders. That’s why the US Supreme Court said California’s blanket primary was unconstitutional, because the state was forcing the party to let non-members help choose its nominee. George Phillies is doing excellent work to help the Massachusetts substitution lawsuit. He is working harder to help that lawsuit than anyone else, other than our attorneys. I respect his intellect and his energy, and the fact that he is on the ACLU board in Massachusetts. I don’t know of any other LP member in the nation who has such a high position in the ACLU.

  13. Just admit it Mr. Winger, this lawsuit is to kick George Phillies off the ballot and not for substitution. Many of us may not see through the BS, but I sure do. Just stick to what you do best and that is fighting for third parties and leave the LP crap to the shills that run this irrelevant, inept party.

  14. Chris, have you seen the complaint? I have.

  15. The real important question — why haven’t Chris and George been named in the suit, despite the fact that Winger and the LP are trying to remove them from the ballot?

    Winger bragging about his “insider status” is tedious.

  16. Richard, you have your facts wrong, as usual.

    The LPNH (I do not know you PERSIST in calling it NHLP), did NOT vote for Mary in 2006. It voted to commit one first round delegate, nothing else.

    As for the national convention, while 3 first round votes WERE committed, it was 2 for George, 1 for Mary. The other delegates were unpledged. We did NOT commit all delegates for all rounds, all delegates were free after round 1.

    George was picked as our candidate because we needed to pick a name to petition for, and given those in the race, the LPNH convention chose George over the 2nd place finisher which was Christine Smith. NOTA finished a close 3rd, and if Smith’s followers had voted NOTA, we would have NOT petitioned, as was explained to all present.

    Richard, you are so clueless in your statements regarding the NH situation, and I can’t tell if it’s intentional lying or if you really are as incorrect in the facts as you claim.

    Suffice it to say, part 2 of my “Why this lawsuit is a mistake” is coming (hopefully tonight), and I’ll list the facts.

  17. “The national LP bylaws require its state affiliates to place the nominee of the LP national convention on the November ballot,” Funny, I can point to a quote from you denying that is true, in any legal sense, on your own website.

  18. ENM: “John Amendall: Richard Winger is NOT a racist.”

    You say that with authority. Am I to suppose that if I don’t accept your word for it, you’ll use your authority to diminish my ability to post here, as you have others? Do you demand that I agree with you? Or am I allowed to form my own opinion based on what he says?

    I have already formed the opinion that Richard Winger is biased against any political party except the LP having ballot access. He attempts to appear unbiased, but it is clear from his stated enthusiasm for this lawsuit that he likes the idea of having a national party organization to force its will on others in the ballot access process. Notwithstanding that the LP asked LPNH to help with ballot access early, knowing the substitution rule, the intent is clearly now to punish LPNH and Phillies for doing their best to help with ballot access in a timely way. And Winger is enthusiastic to see people who worked hard to put Phillies on the ballot punished for doing so with this lawsuit.

    It is exactly this kind of thing that makes Ballot Access News not worth subscribing to.

  19. John Amendall: If you actually expected me to waste my time defending against your idiotic accusation, you’re going to be very disappointed.

  20. Chris, have you seen the complaint? I have.

    Yeah, and you admitted on IPR that it DID seek to kick George Phillies off the ballot.

    Read through the comments here:

    http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2008/09/lpnh-sues-to-kick-george-phillies-of-new-hampshire-ballot/

  21. If I livedin New Hampshire and were old enough, I would probably file a class-action lawsuit against both Barr and Phillies on behalf of libertarians in New Hampshire for fraudulently claiming to be libertarians.

  22. ENM, I made no accusation, as you can plainly see. I asked questions. Thank you for the courtesy of your reply, though it leaves a lot to be wondered.

  23. I was working for ballot access reform before the Libertarian Party was born. In 1965 (when I was in college) I got bills introduced in the California legislature that would have helped the Prohibition Party, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Socialist Labor Party, get on the California ballot. The first time I testified in court outside of my home state was in 1977, on behalf of the American Party in Arkansas. I have testified in winning court cases for the Green Party, the Constitution Party, the Reform Party, the Grassroots Party, the Citizens Party, the New Alliance Party, the Populist Party, the Peace & Freedom Party, the New Jersey Conservative Party, and La Raza Unida Party. I have helped independent candidates win lawsuits in quite a few states. This year I paid $3,000 to launch a lawsuit on behalf of an independent candidate for US House in Georgia, since COFOE is broke from all the other lawsuits filed recently. I have suggested election law improvements to legislators in almost all states, and in over half of those states, my bills have passed.

    I went to New Hampshire at my own expense in 2007 to help lobby for the NHLP’s ballot access bill. I met Seth and other NH Libertarians and we had dinner together at a restaurant where Seth’s wife works. Everything was friendly then.

  24. As to the claim that I am trying to force national parties’ will on state parties, the truth is exactly the opposite. I was the person who persuaded the Montana Secretary of State that he should list Ron Paul on the ballot as the Constitution Party nominee. The Montana Secretary of State seemed to think that a national convention is binding on a state party. I marshalled the historical and logical facts to persuade him he was wrong. I don’t favor Ron Paul being on the ballot in Montana, but I still stuck up for the principle that state parties are their own boss.

    I am doing exactly the same thing in Kansas. I have gathered the historical precedents to persuade the Kansas Secretary of State that the Reform Party has the right to choose its own presidential nominee. The Kansas Secretary of State thinks that just because the Reform Party held a national convention, therefore the Kansas Reform Party must obey. This fight has not been won yet, but it still may be.

    I also did my best to persuade one of Ralph Nader’s attorneys that it was foolish to sue Michigan in 2004 to force Michigan to list Nader as the Reform Party nominee, when the state Reform Party in Michigan was not for Nader (one faction was but the other faction had a better claim to being the legitimate state officers). And, as I predicted, that Nader lawsuit lost. He still got on the ballot in Michigan as an independent so no harm was done.

    When people say things about me that are the opposite of the truth, I guess I need to give more information out about myself.

    And there is no contradiction between saying that national conventions only have moral force, not legal force; and yet also pointing out that the national LP has a bylaw on that subject. I am not saying the LP bylaw has the force of law. It has the force of regulating internal relations between the LP national party and the state party.

    Finally, I will say I donated $10,000 to the initiative in Oklahoma in 2007 that would have eased ballot access, which was 40% of my annual income. Sadly, the initiative failed to get enough valid signatures.

  25. John Amendall wrote

    Am I to suppose that if I don’t accept your word for it, you’ll use your authority to diminish my ability to post here, as you have others?

    That’s an accusation, John Amendall. You can say it’s a question all day, but it’s still an accusation that I have “diminished” others’ ability to post here simply because they didn’t accept my word for something.

    It’s also a lie.

  26. I met Richard Winger thirty years ago when I joined the Libertarian Party and consider him a close friend. He has made considerable personal sacrifice to advance the cause of liberty.

    He is a huge asset to the LP. Questioning his motives is way out of line. (And suggesting he is racist is silly.)

  27. I have read the complaint. There is no “irreparable harm” to Barr since he is on the ballot. Had he not made the ballot then there would be a case for harm. But he did.

    We have two candidates on the ballot in NH. Good for them, it gives more options. The only other state with two libertarian options on the ballot is Nevada, and one of theirs is NOTA.

    And everybody ignores the obvious solution to the problem: move the LP Convention to earlier in the calendar, and then substitution becomes a moot point.

  28. Having seen the lawsuit finally… I can repeat that it’s full of crap. Outright mistatements that Brendan and Hardy should be ashamed of.

  29. And everybody ignores the obvious solution to the problem: move the LP Convention to earlier in the calendar, and then substitution becomes a moot point.

    Yes. Why don’t we have a business meeting convention in the odd year and a party convention in the election year, after the Republicrat conventions?

  30. I would point out that according to the accounts that I have heard, there may even be a question of the LPNH State Committee having the authority to initiate such a suit – it arguably was denied that power by a properly called state convention…

    I’ve also heard rumors to the effect that the agreement to participate in the suit was not exactly voluntary on the LPNH’s part – that there were seriously coercive threats made by LNC and / or the Barr campaign to get them to cooperate…

    I would also give considerable credence to Seth’s word since he is a former LPNH State Committee member – who resigned over this issue (Something I think was a tactical mistake on his part, for the same reason I wouldn’t want to see Angela resign from the LNC – it gives the bad folks more power…)

    I was not at the LPNH nominating convention, so my knowledge of it is second hand, but I’ve heard from multiple sources that the situation with regard to substitution in NH was very clearly explained, and well understood.

    This was a decision made by the LPNH after having failed to secure ballot access two times in a row because of problems w/ National not coming through with promised help, based on their first hand, on the ground experience with what it is like to petition in NH. It was mildly amusing to hear some of the people talking about how “easy” NH would be changing their tunes once they actually hit the ground and started to try gathering sigs..

    I may well attend the next LPNH state convention as a guest, and see what it looks like 1st hand. A friend of mine is planning it, and it looks like it will be a good convention for the speakers alone….

    ART

  31. Art, if you go, ask folks if they would like to win the right for voters to register as “Libertarian” even though we are not a qualified party. We won that right by lawsuits in Oklahoma, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, and Iowa. We won that right in your state, Massachusetts, because of the winning 1990 initiative under David Hudson’s leadership. We won it by lobbying in Kentucky, with the Secretary of State’s help.

    New Hampshire not only has very bad ballot access, it is one of the few states that has got worse instead of better in the last 15 years. It is the only state in the nation that raised the vote test in the last 15 years. The median vote test for a party to remain on the ballot in 1976 was 5%, but nowadays it is 2%. So we have made huge progress nationwide on that variable. But in NH, it is gone up from 3% to 4%. There have been many bills in the legislature to improve things, and they never pass. For the people who are opposed to suing, what do they recommend instead?

  32. Perhaps I’m overly hardcore, but to me forcing “help” on people that don’t clearly and seriously WANT it is hardly a “Libertarian” concept…

    I don’t see much difference between the classic “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help you” and the “new improved version” – “I’m from the LNC / COFOE / Barr Campaign and I’m here to help you”

    The evidence I’ve seen is that a major part, if not a majority of the LPNH doesn’t WANT your “help” – the vote of the LPNH State Committee was far from unanimous, with at least some members not present, and one that felt strongly enough about it to resign.

    Reports are that the LPNH State Committee had to be coerced into the agreement to sue, which is the REAL reason that the suit has been so long in coming – and that the ONLY reason that the LPNH was even asked is that neither the LNC nor the Barr campaign would have standing to sue w/o the LPNH.

    (The initial rumors about the suit were that it was going to be filed independently of the LPNH until the LNC was made aware that they had no standing)

    It is not clear that the LPNH State Committee even has the authority to accept your help. There was NO call for litigation or other substitution efforts at the same state convention that had to be called to approve Sue Newell’s nomination for Governor.

    The LPNH clearly understood what it was doing when they nominated George, and has NEVER backed off from that nomination. My understanding was that the initial response to Barr’s nomination was that the LPNH already had a nominee they were happy with, and saw no reason to change….

    From where I sit, your line comes across about as convincingly as the cat owner telling the tomcat that “it’s for your own good” as she takes him to the vet for that operation – from the tomcat’s point of view…

    ART

  33. Arthur: I resigned, because it was clear that the LPNH Exec Comm refused to consult a lawyer, at all, nor had any adequate legal protections against a sure to be filed counter suit, including questions of personal liability. Now that I’ve read the filed suit, I’m certainly glad I did.

    Our convention will be held in just over 30 days from now, in late October. I’m running for Chair, and most of the current board has already made clear they are not running again. Looking at the situation, I saw no good reason to remain and complain, when a resignation is far better a statement of lack of confidence in the actions of the board.

  34. I think George Donnelly is on to something. We could have the nominating convention the year before the election. This allows the ticket to focus on ballot access well in advance of deadlines.

    The following year we can have a separate convention for party officers and platform changes.

  35. So, Seth, if you are elected new state chair, what will you do to improve ballot access in New Hampshire?

  36. Seth, I can understand your reasons for resigning, without necessarily agreeing with them… I do hope that you have good luck in October. Perhaps if the suit is not resolved by then you can do something to help remedy the situation.

    I can’t vote for you, (since I’m from MA) but I hope to be at the convention. Tim has been telling me some of the speakers you’re lining up, and it sounds like a really good deal.

    I will say I haven’t personally tried petition gathering in NH, but from the descriptions I don’t think you are that badly off – despite Richard’s claims to the contrary… The signature number requirements aren’t that high, and if you get the nominating act together, you can get all the candidates on in one drive… Contrast to the situation here in MA where we have higher numbers, can’t put multiple candidates on the same petition in most cases, and if we get major party status, see our petition number requirement go up while the number of people that can sign goes down…

    (I remember running for LP Ward Committee once, which is a purely internal party office, I had to get 10 signatures, in a Ward with TWO registered Libertarians in it… Try explaining that one to unenrolled voters….)

    ART

  37. […] 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 part…. Others argue that since Mr Barr was already on the ballot in New Hampshire, the only end result of […]

  38. Toute ma reconnaissance Je viens inspecter ton partie, qu’il pleuve ou qu’il vente, c’est adorable cool.

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