This past weekend at the Libertarian National Committee quarterly meeting, Nicholas Sarwark tried to ram through a resolution that would name him the interim development director for the Libertarian Party. This resolution may not have been a terrible idea except for the many shady “coincidences ” that led up to the resolution, the obvious conflicts of interest (Nick is the boss of all of the National LP staff), and the fact that Nicholas asked for 75 DOLLARS PER HOUR! Yes, you read that right- 75 dollars an hour to do something the Chair should have already been tasked with for the last 5 years he has served on the board. This is more than double what the previous overworked and underpaid Development Director, Lauren Daughtery was earning ($35/hour), even while making historical (to the LP) fundraising strides as new donors were locked in. This proposal was also a slap in the face to the other LP staffers who make much less, and the LNC board members that fund their own activism entirely.
Let’s start with the resignation of Mrs. Daugherty. Lauren resigned from her position as Development director more than 6 weeks ago. She told the Executive Director Daniel Fishman and LNC Chair Mr. Sarwark that she would be resigning. Approximately a week later, the Executive Director let the rest of the LNC know through the email list. This would have been an opportune time to start looking for a replacement seeing as how the Development Director was essentially tasked with doing ALL of the fundraisings for the party. The LNC would later find out that was one of the reasons she was leaving. After asking for help several times and being callously ignored, she had finally had enough. Four years of dedicated service to an organization that can’t get you any help fundraising must have been tough, and our hearts go out to Lauren for all of her dedicated hard work.
Surprisingly, the Executive Director and the Chair did not start looking for a replacement right away. In fact, the job listing was not even posted on the website until July 26th, which was 6 weeks after Lauren tendered her resignation and only one day before Lauren vacated the position entirely. I am not sure who else gives 60 days notice, but it sounds like Lauren was really doing the party a solid here. However, instead of looking for a replacement right away, the ED posted to the email list about halfway through Lauren’s period of notice stating that he was trying to evolve an idea that would involve the current Chairman, Nicholas Sarwark, being paid to fundraise. That same Chairman who had hired Mr. Fishman just a few months prior. There were mixed feelings on the LNC business list about this, and several members had concerns. At this time, most were not aware of what was about to come, but a few suspected that this might go a bit deeper than what they were being told.
Right around this same time, Mr. Sarwark publicly announced that he would be honoring a promise made long ago about packing up his entire family and moving to New Hampshire to become part of The Free State Project. This would include leaving his quite large used car dealership behind in Phoenix, Arizona, and treading in unknown waters on the other side of the country. Good for him. Actually, its awesome for him to keep that promise and try to help NH see more freedom in his lifetime. Brave too, considering it’s got to be expensive; especially when you’re leaving in less than 2 weeks, and haven’t found a new job yet. How would any normal person be able to do this? Then again… 75 bucks an hour might be helpful, wouldn’t it?
Some of the LNC started to take notice of these things lining up and became a bit leery of the situation. Thankfully a few were ready for what would come at the Austin LNC meeting over the weekend.
It all started on Saturday when Daniel Fishman stood up to start giving the Executive Director’s report. It eventually devolved into an invite for the LNC to hire Nicholas as the Director of Development, and why it would be a good idea. From what we understand, you could practically hear Lauren’s eyes roll. The next move was to have Jeff Lyons (The Region 8 Alt and good friend of Fishman’s) stand up and ask for a secret Executive Session to talk about “the financial future of the party” and requested that staff not be included. This means that the LNC would have been in a secret session, discussing how to move forward on this issue without the exiting Development Director’s input on what has worked, and what hasn’t, and her valuable input on the state of the Party. The motion to keep staff out failed, and what happened over the next hour and a half is unclear, but we understand there were some perturbed people leaving for lunch.
From what we know now, that night there was a fundraiser at a BBQ restaurant next door to the hotel, and a small group of opposition in the LNC started devising a plan to stop what was a blatantly shady move orchestrated by the Chairman. The initial plan was to make a motion to name Joshua Smith (LNC At Large Rep) and Whitney Bilyeu (Region 7 Rep) the interim fundraisers for the party on a volunteer basis, only being reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses until the Chairman and ED decided to do their jobs and hire a full-time Development Director. With the fear that it might get shot down because of Joshua’s name on the motion, it evolved to become just Whitney, and to create an Ad-Hoc Committee of grunt workers from the LNC to assist wherever she needed help. We reached out to Joshua for comment on this situation, and he simply stated, “This party is more important than my ego, and I am here to assist Mrs. Bileyu in any way she needs.”
During the Sunday portion of the meeting, Mr. Richard Longstreth (Region 1 Rep), and Mr. Joe Bishop Henchman (LNC At Large Rep) handed out a resolution directing the ED to hire a new Director of Development and 1 to 2 staffers by the next LNC meeting in November. This motion passed, and then the rules were suspended by Mr. Steven Nekhaila (Region 2 Rep) to make a motion naming Mrs. Bilyeu (Who had deferred to her regional alternate Mrs. Erin Adams during this whole process, as any self-respecting leader would do) as the interim director. This motion then passed after Mr. Sarwark handed the gavel off and made one of his pace changing sleepy speeches about why he was against the motion, complete with crocodile tears that were sure to tug at the heartstrings. Thankfully Lauren was there to call Mr. Sarwark out on his lies at every turn. She expressed that many times he would not help fundraise when she asked him to. When Nick tried to say that for the first week after her resignation that Himself and Daniel were trying to find ways to make her stay, Lauren made sure everyone knew that Daniel had, in fact, accepted her resignation within 2 hours, and neither Nick nor Daniel had reached out to her to find out how to keep her. She combated every story he tried to tell the rest of the LNC.
Realizing what was going on, Mr. Sarwark lobbed up one more Hail Mary, making a motion to have the LNC name him the Development Director at a rate of 75 dollars per hour. He stated that he had already had the funds available from donors to pay his salary but would not name them. The LNC secretary gave him a wonderful idea to use GoFundMe to raise enough money for him to dedicate full time to fundraising since he already had the pledges, which he turned down. Then a second motion came out suggesting 25 dollars an hour, and Mr. Sarwark again turned that down.
To our surprise, it looks like there were 5 members of the LNC that decided it would be a good idea and voted “yes”. Even more astonishingly was that two of the votes came from Mr. Longstreth and Mr. Henchman who champion themselves as the saviors of the Libertarian Party budget. That certainly left some people scratching their heads as this was basically financial suicide paying someone who has historically not been great at fundraising a minimum of 51,000 over the next three months. This doesn’t sound like balancing the budget to us.
The votes were as follows: Harlos- No, Nekahila- no, Van Horn- no, Smith-no, Adams- no, Hewitt- no, Lark- no, Mattson- no, Redpath- no, Phillips- yes, Henchman- yes, Hagan- yes, Longstreth- yes, Lyons- yes, Goldstein- abstain, Merced (who had the gavel at the time)- abstain, and in a quite funny turn of events, The Chairman voted yes, but withdrew his vote after being called out by Dr. Lark on the optics of voting on this motion.
I believe that it was blatantly obvious by the end of this turmoil that Mr. Sarwark was looking to fund his move to frolic in Freedom Forest, New Hampshire on the backs of the Party’s donors, and the way he went about it was disgusting. This party has some of the hardest working activists in the world. People who give the majority of their free time, and expendable income to the cause, and everyone is feeling a pretty hot kick to the gut after the events of this past weekend. We hope that the delegates in 2020 remember this when they are voting for the direction of the party going forward.