A Duty to Cooperate

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According
to the September issue of Liberty magazine
, powerful
and influential people within the highest reaches of the Libertarian
Party are refusing to cooperate with the official LNC investigation
by the LP's National Chairman, James Lark, into crooked and corrupt
practices within the national party.

According
to Liberty, the people refusing to cooperate with the LNC
investigation include two-time LP presidential candidate Harry Browne,
former LP National Chairman David Bergland, prominent campaign consultant
and web person Jack Dean, former LNC member Sharon Ayres, former
LP National Director Perry Willis, and well-known LP fundraiser
Michael Emerling-Cloud.

According
to Liberty, all of them are refusing to answer questions
submitted to them by Chairman Lark concerning the Browne-Willis
memo that was posted a few months ago on Browne's website and sent
to the LNC in response to an incriminating invoice that surfaced
at the last LNC meeting. The
Browne-Willis memo
details an admission of crooked and dishonest
conduct involving the use of a third-party intermediary to secretly,
surreptitiously, and improperly funnel money to Willis, while he
was serving as a LP National Director.

This
now means that there are two separate sets of offenses against the
Libertarian Party with which the LNC must now concern itself at
its upcoming August 25-26 meeting in Las Vegas.

The
first set relates to the matters described in the Browne-Willis
memo and, more important, the extent to which third-party intermediaries
have been and are being used in the national Libertarian Party to
secretly and improperly funnel money to LP officials and others
and what must be done to bring such misconduct to a permanent halt.

The
second set relates to the intentional and willful refusal to cooperate
with the LNC's official investigation into the wrongdoing.

It
is important to keep in mind that for many years all of these people
who are now refusing to cooperate with the LNC's investigation – Browne,
Willis, Bergland, Ayres, Dean, and Emerling-Cloud – have received
the generous support of LP members.

For
several years, the LP has purchased – and continues to purchase – a
steady supply of Bergland's book, Libertarianism
in One Lesson
, from "Orpheus Publications," a
company owned by Bergland. (See "The
Libertarian Party Needs a Divorce
." LP members also supported
Bergland in his bid to be a LP presidential nominee and, more recently,
LP National Chairman.

Ayres
(who is married to Bergland) received some $130,000 from Browne
while serving as Browne's campaign manager while she was a LNC member,
money that mostly originated from donations that LP members made
to Browne's campaign.

For
many years, Willis received a generous salary as LP National Director
and was even provided six months of severance pay when he voluntarily
chose to resign to go to work for Browne's campaign. Willis has
also received extremely large sums of money from both the LP and
the Browne campaign through his company "Optopia." His
friend Stephanie Yanik has also been the recipient of generous sums
of money from both the LP and the Browne campaign.

Dean
(or his company) has been the recipient of large sums of money,
both from the LP and the Browne campaign for website work.

As
a fundraiser for the LP, the Browne campaign, and other LP campaigns,
Michael Emerling-Cloud has raked in sizable amounts of money from
Libertarian Party members over the years.

Browne
has received millions of dollars in donations from LP members to
his two presidential campaigns; $100,000 to fund his proposed lawsuit
against the FEC; and sizable donations to fund his two new foundations.
The LP purchased and used as a promotional device Browne's campaign
book, Why
Government Doesn't Work
. Also, at the last LNC meeting,
Browne received conditional LNC approval to be a litigation partner
in Browne's proposed lawsuit against the FEC, subject to negotiating
Browne's demand for free use of the LP's mailing list.

Perhaps
most important, for the last two presidential campaigns, LP members
far and wide have poured their hearts and souls into supporting
Browne as their 1996 and 2000 presidential nominee and, indirectly,
Bergland, Ayres, Dean, Willis, and Emerling-Cloud.

Today,
the members of the Libertarian Party need the help of all these
people and, through their elected representatives on the LNC, are
calling on them for help. Browne, Willis, Bergland, Ayres, Dean,
and Emerling-Cloud all have a moral duty to cooperate with an official
investigation whose goal is to bring to a halt crooked, corrupt,
and unethical conduct within the LP.

Why
is their cooperation critical? Because it is in the best interests
of the Libertarian Party to determine whether the use of the third-party
intermediary to secretly and improperly funnel money to Willis was
a one-time event or whether instead it was part of a long-established
pattern of wrongdoing within the national LP. For example, what
good would it do to "censor" Willis or Browne for an isolated
instance of misconduct five years ago if the pattern of wrongdoing
is permitted to continue secretly and surreptitiously into the future?

There
are those within the LP who believe that as long as this type of
misconduct is kept under wraps, it doesn't hurt the party. They
are wrong. An organization that secretly conducts itself in a way
that violates its own principles cannot succeed in the long run.
And in order to attract the positive attention of the American people,
our conduct and our appearance must be stellar, to the point where
ordinary people are recommending the Libertarian Party to their
next-door neighbors.

It
is incumbent on those who have engaged in the wrongdoing to now
voluntarily come forward and say, "This is what we have done.
It was wrong. Here is how we can ensure that it is brought to a
permanent stop."

What
excuse have Browne, Bergland, Dean, Ayres, Willis, and Emerling-Cloud
provided for refusing to cooperate with the LNC's official investigation?

They
have not seen fit to provide any excuse. Even worse, Emerling-Cloud
has ridiculed and mocked the LNC's investigation
, terming it
a "petty inquisition" and a "star-chamber proceeding."

Should
Browne, Bergland, Ayres, Willis, Dean, and Emerling-Cloud be let
off the hook simply because they are powerful and influential "party
leaders"? Well, if they are let off the hook, then future charges
of hypocrisy by Libertarians hurled toward Republicans and Democrats
will ring quite hollow. Whether people are "plain vanilla"
LP members, such as Gene Cisewski, or powerful and influential "party
leaders," such as Browne, Bergland, Ayres, Willis, Dean, and
Emerling-Cloud, all party members should be treated alike when it
comes to official party investigations.

Under
libertarian principles, do these people have a right not to cooperate
with the LNC's official investigation? Of course.

Under
libertarian principles, however, the LNC has the right to sue them
in order to get at the truth, which was the method that the LNC,
under the leadership of David Bergland, used against plain-vanilla
LP member Gene Cisewski.

Furthermore,
under libertarian principles the LP has another option that does
not involve litigation: to steadfastly refuse to do business with
anyone who refuses to cooperate with the LP's official investigation.

The
LNC should provide Browne, Willis, Dean, Bergland, Ayres, and Emerling-Cloud
another opportunity to cooperate with the LNC's investigation. But
every one of them should be advised that if they persist with their
obstinacy, they will have to bear the responsibility for the consequences,
i.e., no further business dealings with the Libertarian Party, including
consulting, contracting, articles, speeches, advertisements in LP
News for both them and any campaigns with which they are associated,
and use of LP mailing lists. In this way, the choice as to whether
to cooperate with the LNC's official investigation – and the responsibility
for making that choice – are fully in the hands of the people making
the choice, where it should be.

Today,
the members of the Libertarian Party have the opportunity to rebuild
and refortify the foundation of the party, with the goal of making
the Libertarian Party not just the "party of principle"
but the "party of integrity and principle." Now is the
time, when there are no national elections, to begin that process.
It is incumbent on Browne, Bergland, Willis, Ayres, Dean, and Emerling-Cloud
to help us accomplish this or else voluntarily accept the consequences
for refusing to do so. To convey the importance that the LNC places
on its official investigation, it is incumbent on the LNC to provide
those consequences.

August
4, 2001

Jacob
Hornberger [send him mail] is
a longtime member of the Libertarian Party.

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