Caryn Ann Harlos: Libertarian Party National Committee: Executive Committee Meeting on Ballot Access for Pennsylvania

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From Caryn Ann Harlos at IPR, March 23rd, 2016:

On March 23, 2016, there was a Libertarian Party National Committee meeting to discuss the issue of encumbering funds for Pennsylvania ballot access.

The Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania Shawn House was present for this meeting.

Bill Redpath made a motion to encumber $62,000 for the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (LPPA) petition drive. An encumbrance plan was sent out earlier today. 21,775 signatures are needed with an anticipated validity rate of 60% so that 36,000 gross signatures would be needed. Between volunteers and the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania, they are expected to cover 1/3 of the needed signatures. The difference between this drive and the one in 2012 is that there is a validity team in place. The cost is anticipated to be $2.50 per signature. The deadline for this effort is August 1, 2016.

Sarwark questioned about the need for this petitioning in light of the potential court case striking down ballot access petition requirements but this is unclear. This is expected to be challenged soon by parties requesting access without submitting signatures.

Matson asked when the window for petitioning opened in which we could have started and how many volunteer signatures were obtained in 2012. Redpath stated that the start date was 2/17/16 and that he doesn’t have the exact figure on volunteer signatures, but it was in three digits.

Goldstein stated that the Democrats and Republicans also have to gather ballot access signatures. LPPA Chair House stated that they consider petitioning to be part of campaigning and is valuable for that purpose.

Lark asked if is this a one-time event or if they can top off the tank as you can in Virgnia. LPPA Chair House wasn’t entirely clear on the answer but was clear that they want to submit the required amount immediately and then keep on submitting signatures. Discussion was had on whether or not Pennsylvania is a challenge state for minor parties.

Olsen asked the Treasurer how the cash flow would work. There is about $73,000 in unrestricted cash with about $12,000 to be taken out for the website redesign project. Illinois petitioning starts on Tuesday with a $50,000 encumbrance.

Redpath noted that there might be an objection based on the fact that there are over 48,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania which is considerably more than the 21,775 signatures needed. However, even the Democrats and Republicans in Pennsylvania have to get petition signatures as previously noted.

Mattson noted concern about the Party’s financial situation and the over-runs in costs in this large petition drives. She wants the Party to be realistic on whether or they will be able to pick up the remaining 1/3 if the volunteers do not come through despite the best of intentions. Mattson would like the affiliate start to collect signatures first to make sure there is joint performance so she substituted a Motion that the LNC encumber $62,000 contingent upon the affiliate providing $7,000 in cash and 3,000 raw volunteer signatures and that no LNC funds go out the door until these conditions are met. Right now, their Board decision is not a commitment to the full $7,000 but rather an amount based on LNC matching funds.

LPPA Chair House confirmed that they have the monies. Their attitude is that they really don’t want to have to rely on LNC funds and are considering paying their own volunteers $1 per signature along with some other plans in order to collect signatures. Apparently they have $18,000 in the till at this point. There was conflicting information on whether or not they wish to spend their own money on ballot access rather than the LNC. Chair House is a brand-new Chair and unfortunately did not have all of the information for which he apologized. Howell stated that there is at least $13,000 clear of other obligations to other causes. Mattson stated that it is not realistic to believe that the petition requirement will be dropped. She further had attempted some fundraising in Pennsylvania and the results have not been promising. Chair House stated that now that they have candidates, the response might be more enthusiastic.

Lark asked if we have actual petitioners ready to go at these rates waiting to see what the LNC does. The answer was no.

Sarwark opined that the LNC will not get involved in a drive that fails. Over-runs must be considered when initiating a drive. It appears to the LNC that there is not unity within the Pennsylvania Party to be committed to the success of this drive. This could easily turn from a $62,000 drive to a $100,000 drive. It just doesn’t feel like a good deal a this time with all this ambivalence.

Redpath expressed great disappointment in the LPPA and their efforts and their failure to commit fully. However, this is vital to our Presidential ticket to be on the ballot in this state which is the 6th most populous state. It is important that there be some kind of National commitment on this call.

Mattson clarified that due to FEC issues, the LPPA could not hand up the money directly to the National Party but she would agree to amend her Motion from “affiliate provide” to “affiliate encumber” with regards to the funds and that her original wording of “volunteer” be struck to just be actual signatures from any source, even if they are paid signatures. She wants a serious commitment from them.

The Motion as amended became: The LNC encumber $62,000 for the Pennsylvania ballot access drive contingent upon the LPP encumbering $7,000 towards this effort and collecting a minimum of 3,000 raw volunteer or paid signatures for this effort.

Redpath proposed an additional amendment allowing earmarked fundraising to be counted towards the LPPA’s obligation. Goldstein opposed stating that this would defeat the whole purpose of LPPA having significant skin in this game. This amendment was defeated.

Sarwark- Y
Goldstein- Y
Hagan- Y
Redpath- Y
Vohra- Y
Mattson- Y
Lark- Y

Bolded motion passed.

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