Libertarian Party of Louisiana

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Libertarian Party of Louisiana
Chairman Scott A. Lewis III
Senate leader None
House leader None
Founded 1973
Ideology Libertarianism; Austrian School; Non-aggression principle; Classical liberalism
National affiliation Libertarian Party (United States)
Colors a shade of Blue; Yellow
Website
www.louisianalibertarian.net
Politics of the United States
Political parties
Elections

The Libertarian Party of Louisiana (LPL) is the Louisiana affiliate of the Libertarian Party. The state chairman is Scott A. Lewis III. It is the third largest party in Louisiana and one of five officially recognized parties in the state. The LPL has two legislative accomplishments to its credit, one a friendlier ballot access law passed in 2004, and the other, a defeat of a bill which would have redefined any party under 40,000 registered voters as a "minor" party and not deserving of federal primary elections.[1] The party is currently organizing individual parishes with their own party committees and is fielding candidates in five of the six upcoming 2012 Congressional elections as well as promoting Gary Johnson for President.

Membership[edit]

Party membership as of June 3rd, 2013 is at 7,888 registered Libertarians in the State of Louisiana[2] up from January 2012, which was 4,813 registered voters state-wide and over an additional 4,000 affiliated members. Party membership continues to increase since official recognition and is currently being driven by interest in the Gary Johnson campaign as well as by those seeking an alternative to older parties presently in power.

To become a member of the Libertarian Party in Louisiana, one simply need register as "Libertarian" on their voter registration form, or ask their Parish Registrar of Voters to change their party affiliation to "Libertarian." This can now be accomplished online at the Louisiana Secretary of State's website: GeauxVote.com

Those registered Libertarians who also pay annual dues, are automatically registered for the State Convention, can seek party office, and can vote at the convention on party business. The party currently offers the following annual memberships: $25 – Sustaining, $50 – Bronze, $100 – Silver, $250 – Gold, $500 – Liberty, $1000 – Pelican.[3] Members may also substitute qualified volunteer time in lieu of monetary payment for yearly dues at the rate of $10 per hour.

Although the impressive goal of increasing its registration to 40,000 by December 31, 2011 was not met, gains are being made and the task looks more achievable in time for the 2016 Presidential cycle. If the party is successful in doing so, the State of Louisiana will hold a Presidential Preference primary for the Libertarian Party in early 2016 according to State law. (LA RS 18:1280.21.A)[4] Achieving this goal would also head off future attempts at relegating the LPL to "minor party" status as was attempted in the Spring 2009 legislative session.

Party organization[edit]

The Party is organizing on the parish level as required by state law similar to that used by the larger Democrat and Republican parties. This consists of a Parish Executive Committee (PEC) made up of a number of members that equal those on the parish's governing body. (police jury or parish council) If at-large positions are not already available on the governing body, then each parish can have up to two such positions. From among themselves, the Committee selects a Parish Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Officer, Elections Officer, and Campus Officer. These officers are chosen every four years by caucus of party members in the parish. (state run elections will be used if the party has more than 5% of the registered voters in the state, which is approximately 144,000 voters as of June 2012.)

The PEC's are the primary organizational unit of the LPL and are responsible for membership, fund raising, electioneering and public outreach within their parish. They are also responsible for implementing and overseeing the Government Liaison program of the LPL. In addition, only organized parishes control the selection of delegates to the Libertarian National Convention.

The current organized parishes with PECs are Caddo, East Baton Rouge, and Lafayette.

The LPL is governed by a State Central Committee which serves as the Party's Board of Directors. This committee is chosen every four years at a State Convention. Its members include: Party Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, and five At-Large Representatives. (larger parties in Louisiana must elect State Central Committees based on State House districts) The five At-Large Representatives serve as chairs of each of the five Supporting Party Committees – Finance, Registration, Elections, Economic Development, & Media Relations. The five At-Large Representatives and the Vice-Chairman serve as the Strategic Planning Committee. In addition to the Executive and At-Large officers, organized parishes hold a seat on the State Central Committee.

Government Liaison Program[edit]

This program is designed to increase participation in the party, as well as help advance Libertarian public policy goals in the state. The program also serves as a 'candidate in training' experience, and is part of what the Party hopes will be an ongoing information awareness and civic participation program. Government Liaisons are analogous to a 'mirror government' or a "shadow cabinet" in the British tradition.

Individuals are encouraged to select a public office that interests them in their parish. The initial goal is to gather as much information about the office as they can, including term of the office, pay rates, duties and responsibilities, past and current office holders, as well as past and current policy issues associated with the office. Once the basic information is assembled, that individual should meet with that elected or appointed official on a regular basis to discuss current policy from a Libertarian perspective. In this fashion, it is hoped that by being more familiar with Libertarian principles, public officials will be more open to them, as well as perhaps learning something about the issue and how it affects their constituents. It is envisioned that actual legislation or policy actions will be borne out of this project and advanced through current channels and office holders.

The added benefit of being a Liaison is that one will naturally be well informed about the issues, the office, and the official, in order to be better prepared for public service and running for office themselves. (either the office they are studying, or another which is similar) At the very least, Government Liaisons will be an invaluable resource for any future LPL candidate seeking that office.

Ballot access[edit]

The LPL is one of five officially recognized parties in Louisiana and as such its members are designated by "LBT" on voter registration cards rather than "other", and its candidates have "Libertarian" printed next to their names on the ballot. Being a recognized party, only filing fees dictated by statute are required to be placed on the ballot; petition signatures are not needed. (though one can always opt to turn in signatures in lieu of filing fees)

Louisiana has one of the most liberal ballot access laws in the nation, due in no small part to efforts by the LPL in 2004. The LPL approached independent members of the state legislature and urged them to support legislation that would formally recognize additional parties and distinguish their candidates on the ballot from other parties and from independents. The measure passed and currently a party can choose two methods of recognition: method A) register 1,000 voters, pay a $1,000 fee, and register with the La. Secretary of State; or B) achieve at least 5% of the total votes in any statewide election. To retain ballot access, a party must maintain at least 1,000 registrants and field a statewide candidate at least once every four years if choosing option A, or repeat the 5% or better vote total if qualifying by method B. The LPL chose method A and has maintained that status and has fielded statewide candidates every year since.

Libertarian Party et al. v. Dardenne 2008[edit]

Due to problems arising from Hurricane Gustav closing state offices during the 2008 qualifying period and other issues, the LPL did not meet the filing deadline to place Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Bob Barr on the ballot for November. State law at the time, allowed for a 72 hour "grace period" where a national party could secure a ballot line for their candidate, where the state party had failed to do so. The LNC filed their paperwork within 72 hours of the state party missing the deadline, but the Secretary of State, Jay Dardenne refused to add Barr's name to the ballot. Litigation commenced with the first round in U.S. District court going to the LP, however, the Judge agreed to a two day stay of his order to reprint the ballots pending appeal by the State. Dardenne won the next two rounds at both the fifth circuit and the US Supreme court and so Barr did not appear on the 2008 Louisiana ballot. Notably, neither the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court, nor the Supreme Court addressed the issue of a Secretary of State or a Governor altering the deadlines for qualifying set by the Legislature as a violation of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution in rendering their decision. Instead, both courts focused on the issue that the LPL failed on its own accord to meet the filing deadline, (which was never disputed) and they both used the circular logic that the State's act of printing the incorrect ballots precipitated a hardship for the State to have to reprint them and that overseas, military, and absentee voters would be needlessly "confused" by receiving a second ballot. Both courts also failed to acknowledge findings from the District court that the State had received the LNC (national party) filing before the "proof" copy of the ballot was returned from the printer for final approval, and that the state could have printed the ballots correctly without this confusion or hardship.[5]

Party primaries[edit]

While Louisiana has experimented with closed party primaries in the past, at present, there is no such system. There are Open Primary Elections where all candidates, regardless of how many from each party, are placed on the ballot for each office. This means there can be any number of people from any party, officially recognized or not, as well as independents all vying for the same office. If there is no clear winner after the primary (a majority is needed for single seat offices) then the two candidates receiving the most votes compete alone in the "General Election" which essentially is a runoff election, usually held one month later.

The only closed party "primary" in Louisiana is the Presidential Preference Primary which essentially is a non-binding straw-vote of party member preference for their nominee for President. It is not a true primary for any office in the traditional sense as losers may still end up the nominee, and winners may not. As noted above, at this time, the Libertarian Party of Louisiana does not yet qualify for such a primary.

Current candidates[edit]

The LPL is currently seeking "serious" candidates for 2013 local elections.

"Serious" candidates, are those individuals who genuinely wish to serve the public as elected officials, and are willing to do as much as is in their power and within their abilities to effectively campaign and participate in the electoral process, with the intent and mindset of actually getting elected. There is little if any evidence of any candidate in modern times being elected to office who thought it "impossible" to win the race, and who took little or no effort to do so.

The LPL strongly discourages "paper" candidates who simply file for ballot access merely to give themselves and their friends a "choice" of voting for someone other than the other party candidates. Instead, the LPL would respectfully request that such persons donate the hundreds or even thousands of dollars they would have spent on their own filing fees to another real campaign, or to the party itself to advance Libertarian policy. If a "paper" candidate files in any race, the LPL will take every measure possible to recruit a "serious" candidate into the race. Such "paper" candidates will most likely not receive any endorsement from the State Party.

Past candidates[edit]

A record of previous LPL candidates and their votes can be found on LPedia.org.

State platform[edit]

The state party platform is geared towards state issues, or national issues where state government has some influence or jurisdiction. Issues that are national or international in scope and can or should only be addressed by Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court are not allowed in the state platform.

The platform consists of two parts, General Principle Planks and specific Policy Issue Planks.

General Principles[edit]

The General Principles fit under the three headings of the Louisiana State Motto "Union, Justice, Confidence" and should act as guides in formulating policies on specific issues.

Union[edit]

Federalism
Louisiana is a sovereign State jealous of its territories and powers and zealously guards them. We have a reciprocal responsibility to our fellow States to bind the national government with the chains of the Federal Constitution. We pledge in this union, assistance to protect all from Invasion from without and to maintain republican government in our own territory.
International relations
We jealously guard our national and state sovereignty against any attempt to institute a supranational government, organization, or instrument designed towards such ends. International relations should be conducted on a case by case basis only with relevant nations. We will not subordinate public money to foreign interests, nor interfere with the governing of, or initiate the use of force against, sovereign peoples. We encourage limited, legal immigration, for our general benefit.
Militias
Louisiana is responsible for maintaining the general militia for the protection of itself, the Union, and to execute the laws. Each able individual has the responsibility to be knowledgeable and safe in the proper use of force so that he may provide for the defense of himself, his family, and the People. To these ends, the individual right of each to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Laissez faire markets
All markets should be free of regulation and interference by government, using an honest weight and measure as a medium of exchange. All markets shall be kept free of any fraud and coercion. The free flow of goods, services and information among the several States should not be hindered.
Taxes
Taxation should be limited in their scope, and light in their impact, and Pigouvian in nature. Congress should be held to the constitutional restrictions on taxation in both form and purpose. Direct, apportioned taxes are preferred for both state and national revenue. Louisiana must ensure that the tax laws are not misapplied or improperly enforced to the detriment of the citizen. All taxation should be approved by a three-fourths majority of the legislature and three-fourths of the people. No tax passed for any purpose shall last longer than five years.
National party platform
We adopt, affirm, and agree with the planks of the Libertarian Party Platform insofar as they are consistent with and supportive of the concepts of limited republican government as espoused in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution for the United States of America.

Justice[edit]

Citizenship
We hold that all Men born in Louisiana, or in any one of the several United States, now domiciled in Louisiana, regardless of race or gender, are Citizens of Louisiana, and enjoy all of the benefits, rights, powers, authorities, prerogatives, and privileges of a sovereign. At no time is any Citizen of Louisiana in any way subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, while within the territory of Louisiana.
Individual rights
We affirm the principles espoused in the Declaration of Independence – that all Men are created equal, with inalienable rights; that the sole purpose of government is to protect these rights; that it is the responsibility of the People to alter or abolish their form of government whenever it becomes destructive of this purpose, instituting new government more conducive to their liberty.
Contracts
We uphold the right to freely contract with others outside of interference or coercion. Government has the obligation to enforce performance of private contracts, when requested by a counter-party, without regard to public policy.
Corporations
Corporations are chartered by government for the benefit of the People generally and no one specially. Corporations do not enjoy, nor should they be bestowed, the same individual and inalienable rights of Men. No Man should ever be deemed to be, or be treated as, a corporation.
Public resources
Those resources, natural or otherwise, held in the public trust, are held so for the benefit of all the People generally and none specially. The holding of public resources in trust by government does not confer any power to government to restrict or otherwise regulate the use or enjoyment of those resources by any one of the people except so as to preserve its future use for all. Any Man or Corporation deriving profit from use of public resources shall owe a royalty to the Treasury, to be used for the benefit of the People generally.
Juries
All jurors have the power to decide both the Law and the Facts in every case. It is the responsibility of all jurors to serve as a check against overreaching government and find for acquittal if in their opinion the law or its enforcement is unjust. Juries must be given all evidence relevant to their decision, and they should be present for all proceedings affecting the defendant.

Confidence[edit]

Elections
All elections should be secure and free from tampering or fraud. All votes should have a permanent paper record, and a publicly accessible electronic record, and should be counted in each precinct in full public view. The process, machines, or software used to count votes, be they manual, mechanical, or electronic, shall be open to the public.
Accountability
All public officials, elected or otherwise are fully and personally, legally and financially accountable to the people. Non elected positions should be bonded, and All Officials should be subject to a Grand Jury of the People, assembled for the purpose, should they be deemed to have violated their oath of office, the law, or enjoy personal benefit while acting under color of law. All proceedings of government, in any form or fashion whatsoever, should be open to the public, either at the time of their occurrence or by publishing of their activities.
Preparedness
Government officials have the duty to maintain civil defense procedures and emergency supplies or supply networks, held in trust for the People. All due diligence should be exercised in anticipating contingencies and relief needs. In No case should the government ever hinder or prevent the People or any one of Them from securing their own personal Safety and Security or that of their family or neighbors.
Constitutions
Our Federal and State Constitutions are the supreme law of the land. They should be maintained as general, yet absolute temporary delegations from the people, of powers to various institutions of government. They should not be amended for light or transient causes, nor should their basic provisions be constructed so as to require amendment to assent to laws which would otherwise be in the purview of the Legislature or the People themselves.
Budgets
Government has the duty and obligation to spend within the means of the Treasury. Debt should not be incurred unless in dire emergency as invasion or rebellion or natural disaster as shall not admit of any other remedy. A full cash and accrual basis accounting of all Public resources and Monies shall be issued to the People no less than once per calendar year. Louisiana shall not accept or cause to be accepted, any Thing except Gold or Silver coin as a tender in the payment of debt as required by the United States Constitution.
Initiatives
We recognize the imperfection of vesting all power in government. We support the People in reserving their right of Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Initiative, and of Legislative Referenda. We also hold that our state constitution should reflect this right of the People, and outline a structure and guidelines for the People to properly exercise their power.

Policy issues[edit]

There are no Policy Issue planks adopted in the Platform at this time. Specific current policy initiatives are currently the purview of the State Central Committee.

Party success[edit]

Elections[edit]

The Libertarian Party of Louisiana has had some success in elections. In the 2006 election for Louisiana's 6th Congressional District, Libertarian candidate Richard Fontanesi received just over 17% of the total vote or 19,648 votes. Though he received only 10.5% of the vote, Rufus Holt Craig Jr. currently holds the title of most votes in District 6 with the 32,200 he garnered in November 2012. These were very strong showings for candidates who raised comparatively little money. The largest percentage in a US House race is 24.87% received by Randall Lord in the 4th District in November 2012. He also holds the record for largest vote total in a US House race with 61,586 votes. In 2006 S.B.A. Zaitoon received 11% of the vote in a special election for Insurance Commissioner, garnering 60,182 votes, this is the most for any Louisiana Libertarian candidate in a Statewide race in both percentage and total votes received.

In November 2012, Electors for Gary Johnson for President received 17,975 votes – about 0.92% statewide, which is more than double the amount of votes received by Electors for Ed Clark in 1980, and nearly double what Electors for Ron Paul received in 2008.

For State Legislative races, the most votes received was 3,995 by Richard Fontenesi in his 2007 bid for the State Senate, and the largest percentage was 21.9% garnered by William David Chance in his 2011 bid for State House.

In 2012, the LPL achieved its first electoral victories when Randall Todd Hayes filed for the office of Alderman for the Village of Atlanta and Michael Riffe filed for the office of Alderman for the Village os Sykes, both in Winn Parish. For each office, three were to be elected. In Atlanta, only three candidates files, and in Sykes, only two candidates filed, thus all are deemed "elected" and will take office on January 1, 2013. Mr. Riffe is an incumbent who recently switched his affiliation to the Libertarian Party.

Legislation[edit]

In 2009, the party was instrumental in defeating Louisiana HB 776, which would have caused Reform, Green and Libertarian Congressional candidates to appear only on the general election ballot no matter how many there were of each, and without the benefit of a party primary. This issue has been rendered moot since the repeal of party primaries to took effect after the November 2010 general election.

References[edit]

External links[edit]