h/t Matthew Hicks
I started writing this piece twice now and couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs. The whole thing felt wrong to me. I walked away from putting in any work and took a little time to think about what I was doing and why. It finally occurred to me that I was trying to write it in a professional manner, using a voice that you might expect from a professional journalist. The problem is that isn’t me. This version, the final version, will be completely in my own voice. I’m writing it the same way I speak. I ask you, friends and fellow Libertarians, to indulge the F-bombs and profanity laced screed from time to time. It’s what I do.
I want, by way of this writing, to issue an apology to the members of the LNC upon whom I have recently shat in a few online posts and a video. I called out several of you by name and I want acknowledge you by name here. Mrs. Harlos, Ms. Adams, Mrs. Mattson, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Hewitt, I’m sorry. I retract everything I said and will remove the posts once this is live.
For explanation of my motivation for writing this, I offer this: I was angry after watching the LNC meetings during which the LNC was debating and discussing convention options. As I watched the meetings, I couldn’t help but think, “What the actual fuck is going on with these people? It’s like they are all trying to achieve their own agenda and goals with no regard for the delegates or worse, they want to make sure that their fellow members of the LNC don’t get what they want, at all costs.”
I made that assessment because I have avoided the den of venomous snakes and bullshittery that is internal party politics for the entire time I’ve been in the LP. After I made my posts on social media, people began coming out of the woodwork to fill in the blanks for me. My criticism of LNC member’s behaviors was based on incomplete knowledge. I didn’t know all the behind-the-scenes and cloakroom shenanigans that have been going on. Well, the toothpaste is out of the tube now and I would be negligent in my moral responsibility if I didn’t address it. You see, we Libertarians profess to be the party of principle. If I see some fuckery going on within the party that runs counter to that and I don’t call it out, not only am I assenting to that behavior by my silence, I’m also assenting to compromising our principles through my inaction. I won’t be that guy. Because I’m not.
This is the part where half of you will quit reading: Our chair, Nick Sarwark, is in large part responsible for the dumpster fire in a diarrhea factory that our LNC meetings have become, as it pertains to the national convention. He has created an environment in which factionalism for the sake of agenda is the norm. He has nurtured personal agenda at the expense of the party. He has attempted to exercise strong-arm style dictatorial rule.
Now a brief explanation of how I decided what went into this writing! Nothing that you will read here is second-hand information. Every single allegation comes directly from the primary source. I verified and, to the extent possible, fact-checked everything. There is no, “so-and-so told me that…” I pledged to give anonymity to everyone who agreed to talk to me, and I will honor that at all costs. Anything that is a direct quote is attributed to the source, with their permission. You can pester me and message/comment all you want, I’ll not go into any more detail than what I have done here. I won’t divulge a single source. This is what you get, take it or leave it. Those of you who continue to support Nick in his behavior and his agenda—whatever that may be—can no longer do it in a vacuum. You are now a willing participant in his misdeeds.
To be fair, I used to be a supporter of his. I thought that the LNC was just a bunch of faction members fighting against each other to further their own ends. I believed that Nick was just trying to maintain some semblance of order and look out for the interests of the delegates and the party. Well, color me mad as a murder hornet when I learned what was actually going on. To quote John Phillips Jr, “I will no longer support Nick for any position at all in the Libertarian party, including as a candidate.”
One of the first things that was brought to my attention from more than one LNC member is that Nick has a private agenda for the Libertarian party. Mises folks, Prags, and Radicals, listen closely to this. He has expressed to LNC members more than once that he wants to steer the party left as much as possible. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this. A chair serves, in part, to guide an organization towards its goals. Someone, fucking anyone, please tell me when the LNC or delegates decided that our goal was to shift to the left. Last I checked, it never happened. On top of that, steering our party either left or right goes directly counter to our narrative that we are neither right nor left, but libertarian. Bad enough, but let’s just overlook that for a while.
What we should never overlook are the methods by which he has attempted to bring about this and, presumably, other goals. Has anyone here ever whipped against Nick in any meaningful vote? Have any of you ran against him? What about rallied support in opposition to one of his preferred projects? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Well, I talked to some people who have. These people told me the results of their activities. Each of them said the same thing. Nick spoke with them, on the phone or in person, and explained to them that they are going to have to pay a price for going against him. They told me that he said their political career was over, that he would crush them, that their future in the party depended on them supporting him, and that there would be a price to pay for going against him.
Good one, Nick. I especially like how you made sure that there was no email or other written record of you subtly threatening your political opponents—a theme that we will see repeat itself over and over again. I also appreciate the care you took in selecting your words. Consummate politician/car salesman/lawyer stuff there. You say these things in such a way that you can always claim that you meant it in a different way and then gaslight the shit out of those who call you out on it. You could always later say that you just meant political gamesmanship, rather than a smear campaign or something worse. Slick move!
The threats aren’t limited to LNC members. I have spoken with several State affiliate chairs who told me the same thing. One of the sayings that Nick uses to issue threats is to tell people that they need to get on the train or in front of it. Wow, that’s clever! I mean, it implies that there’s a movement building behind you and your agenda (there isn’t) and that there is an air of inevitability to it (there isn’t). It also provides him the cover to later say that it wasn’t a threat. Everyone I talked to about this said that they took it as a threat because the tenor of it clearly indicated that it was.
Nick, threatening people (politically or otherwise) is behavior horribly unbecoming of the leader of a political party. Except the bad ones. They seem to condone that sort of stuff. WE FUCKING DON’T. This shit right here is enough of a reason to demand your resignation. I didn’t think it would get much worse than this. Much to my chagrin, you proved me wrong, sir.
Threats are one thing. Actively working to sabotage another member of the LNC doing work for the party is another ball of wax entirely. Sometime after being elected to the LNC, Joshua Smith was placed on the affiliate support committee. I’ll give you three guesses who put him on that committee! No? Ok, it was Nick. In a stunning and brave display of masterful leadership skills, Nick told several members of the LNC that he placed Joshua Smith on that committee because he wanted him to fail. Further, He expressed his anger at some of the LNC members who helped Mr. Smith so that the committee—the committee that is specifically responsible for helping our State affiliates—would be successful.
What sort of leader places someone in a position with the expectation that they will fail? Worse, what sort of leader places someone in a position with the intent that they fail? I’ll try an even more specific one- what sort of leader places someone in a position with the intent that they fail and that failure will have significant negative downstream effects for their organization? Nick does. So, here’s where a disclaimer has to come into play. I’m not in the Mises caucus. I’m not in any serious caucus that actually does political work. I’m in the Waffle House caucus, the It’s Never Too Early For Scotch caucus, shit like that. I’m friendly enough with Joshua Smith but I wouldn’t call us friends. We’ve spoken maybe twice. I didn’t even talk to him about this piece because the second I did, some of you would throw the taint of some personal bias over this whole thing. I know that you “true believers” will never accept that as fact, but I can only present truth to you. What you do with it is your responsibility, not mine.
Let’s talk about ethics for a bit, shall we? Sometimes, the field of ethics is a little fuzzy and there are grey areas in which those who aren’t eternally vigilant may find themselves. Other times, it’s pretty clear where the lines between right and wrong rest. There was once a lady named Lauren Daugherty who worked on LP staff as the director of development. According to all accounts, she was great at her job and was blasting out the fundraising like no one’s business. Lauren Daugherty decided, for whatever reason, to move on to something else in life and tendered her resignation to the chair, by way of the executive director. The chair sat on it for almost three weeks before telling the LNC.
Let’s put that in perspective, shall we? An important team member, one whose work directly affects the financial health of our organization, decides to quit. The Chair decided to sit on this critically important information for half a month before telling the decision-making body of our organization. This caused a delay in even beginning the search for a new team member.
When asked about it in an LNC meeting, the chair stated that he was making every effort he could to retain Lauren Daugherty during that delay. Woopsie! Mrs. Daugherty was in the meeting and called out that lie! She stated that there was never any contact with her from anyone trying to convince her to stay on. I’m pretty impressed at the gall of a board chair who openly lies to their board, especially one who has the sand in them to try it when the ONE PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE who could call them out on it is in the meeting. Bravo, sir. Bold move. There’s the first ethical no-no. Board members have an obligation to their colleagues to be honest with each other and work with each other in good faith. Nick failed that litmus test.
It gets worse though. Nick, in the middle of this manufactured crisis, offered up his services as a fundraising consultant to the tune of seventy-five dollars an hour. That’s right, folks. Seventy-five dollars an hour. This money would, presumably, be to make the fundraising calls that Mrs. Daugherty had previously been making. Let that sink in. Our chair, a man who should be making these calls already as part of his chair duties, offered himself up in noble sacrifice to be highly compensated for actions he should be performing anyway. Stunning and brave!
Hang on to your fucking petticoats, ladies and gentlemen, here’s where the ethical waters turn from murky to completely dark. When it was decision time for the LNC to vote on Nick’s generous offer, he voted. Ethics 101: one has an obligation to recuse oneself from any vote in which one has a financial stake. Let’s forget for a moment the exorbitant amount he wanted for his time, let’s focus on the fact that he broke this primary rule of ethical behavior.
None of this required sourcing or interviews. If you give even a little bit of a shit about the truth, you can look through old meeting stuff. I did and it was terrible. I still did it. I just want to get this in before any asshats decide to question me or call me out on this part: Do YoUr ReSeArCh.
Let’s get a little more contemporary, shall we? It’s time to talk about the upcoming convention, in all its glory. Before I get into it, I want to come out in support of fucking nothing. I don’t personally give a shit one way or the other how our convention goes down, whether online, in-person, or some combination of the two. I’m a delegate-elect and will be in attendance in any case.
The problem with all the latest LNC meetings and the convention madness is that Nick told some members of the LNC that he intended to gavel in the convention over Memorial Day weekend, no matter what the LNC decided. Wrong answer, dude. You don’t get to do that. Our organization isn’t a monarchy over which you get to rule with an iron fist. The queen of England may be able to override parliament (I have no idea if she can or not, just sayin), but you do not have the authority to override the LNC.
You claim that you’re operating in good faith and that your desire is to ensure ballot access for the early deadline States and protect the health of the delegates. Should we talk about the phone call, Nick? I think we should talk about the phone call. Let’s talk about the phone call.
You got a phone call from someone, didn’t you? Someone named Poppy, right? I have it on good authority that Poppy had a conversation with you about Amash and the presidential nomination.
That conversation went a little something like this:
Nick- We’re going to have our presidential and vice-presidential nomination online over Memorial Day weekend.
Poppy- And it will have to be ratified at a later, in- person, convention?
Nick- That is correct.
Poppy- That sounds like an online presidential preference poll. We don’t do those. We’re out if the process isn’t completed in one piece.
So here we are! Our chair is actively trying to recruit people who would be willing to amend the agenda and bang out the whole convention online so as to ensure that the process would be complete all at once, instead of bifurcated. This is despite the will of the LNC and an attempt to sway the will of the delegates. Nothing wrong with that, except you won’t tell us your motives behind it. I cannot support you in this because your past behavior indicates that you have a personal agenda that you haven’t disclosed.
In light of recent events, specifically the withdrawal of Mr. Amash from the presidential race, it would seem prudent to bag the online idea because, as we’ve seen time and again, some of the delegates can and will sandbag the whole thing through motions, challenges, etc. Nick, on the other hand, seems to have doubled-down on the whole thing. Admitting you’re wrong is sometimes hard. I get it. That’s what this whole writing is about. It’s also extremely cathartic and useful. Try it, Nick.
I don’t pretend to know why you think this was in the best interest of the party and why you tried so hard to ensure the playing field was the one which the Amash campaign demanded. I’m not in your head and the only person that can answer questions about it is you, sir. I believe you will not so it isn’t worth asking the questions. What I am convinced of is your actions performed in something close to secret.
Folks, there are a hell of a lot more allegations floating around out there. I didn’t address those allegations because in many cases I could find no evidence to support them. In other cases, people asked me not to because they feared retribution. Shame on anyone who makes people feel that way for politics. Imagine being a part of a political organization in which speaking your mind could result in tangible negative consequences. Sure, freedom of association and dissociation blah blah blah. Being afraid to speak out because you fear retribution is a different thing entirely.
To wrap this all up, our chair has a history of doing immoral and unethical things to get his way in the party. He has a history of trying to manipulate people through threats to sway decision making in his favor. His M.O. seems to be that, no matter what, the end justifies the means, even if it means compromising all our principles. I would like to close by quoting John Phillips Jr. again, only this time out of context, “Fuck right off.”
P.S.—I would like to thank everyone who spoke with me about this, LNC members, State chairs, and other prominent figures in our party. I appreciate your courage in coming forward in the face of likely scorched earth style retribution. I especially want to thank John Phillips Jr., the man who blew the lid off this online. John, you didn’t scoop me. You only motivated me to finish working on this as fast as possible!
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