The Party of Principle – Individual Rights, Free Markets, and Limited Government
Special Guest at the Next NFLP Meeting 19 June! Mr. Jerry Couey, activist, media host and all around font of knowledge about Panhandle politics. Location to be determined…stay tuned
Come on out and ride the NFLP float in the Billy Bowlegs Parade, 30 May, 6 PM, downtown Fort Walton Beach. Get to know fellow Libertarians, throw beads, and have a good time! Please call 850-217-6590 if you will attend…
IRS – You’re surprised?
The blatant targeting by the IRS of groups opposed to the President clearly deserves prison time for those responsible. The odious revelations that the power to tax was used to hinder free expression for partisan purposed rightfully shakes public confidence that the government protects the Bill Of Rights. The IRS can, and should, be abolished. But I must ask, why are so many surprised when this kind of abuse happens?
I would not be exaggerating if I said every day there are examples of even worse abuses by government. It has routinely conducted warrantless searches of American citizens. For a long time it was a crime to tell anyone that a warrantless search had been committed. In Boston we saw the fourth Amendment thrown to the winds for tens of thousands of citizens in the pursuit of two armed men. The mortgage scandals, the LIBOR scandal, and the apparent immunity of big bankers, such as John Corzine, who blatantly steal investor funds but never come to trial, leaves the public with puzzled looks on their faces about the rule of law. Worst of all, American Presidents have executed American citizens overseas without trial, or even without public evidence. And this is the short list!
To Libertarians none of this comes as a surprise because we know big government is bad government. It’s a pity so many of our fellow citizens cannot see the dingy forest of government abuse until their particular tree is chopped down.
Pete Blome, Chair, Northwest Florida Libertarian Party
A response to a pst on the Libertarian Solutions for Florida Facebook Page 1 May: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lpfsolutions/permalink/483790348343601/
- Bill Wohlsifer A tough choice between two of our finest LPF members. Pete Blome was instrumental in helping re-organize a libertarian movement in the Big Bend region. He is my closest geographical candidate. But at-large means at large (and we attorneys tend to stick together). My vote, as of May 1st (the day that the Brits traditionally defame capitalism) would be for Jared Grifoni.
I’ll ask you to reconsider your vote, since I would best to represent the LPF At-Large.
It is clear to me that the purpose of a political party is to put people and money together to elect candidates and that is what I’ve wholeheartedly pursued.
At-Large implies an ability to be everywhere and do everything that the LPF is involved in. Although I wish this were possible all the time, I took a more realistic approach and concentrated my efforts on establishing an organized and reliable libertarian presence in a manageable area, roughly from Tallahassee to Pensacola (200 miles). Nowhere in Florida is the potential for actually electing a libertarian to office greater than in this Panhandle region, where relatively small efforts in the past have garnered the best libertarian election results. This is despite the fact there were no LPF Region 5 or Region 6 reps for most of my tenure, or any organized affiliates in the area. What the north lacked, and what I supplied, was an organized and reliable Libertarian presence to tell all liberty loving and free market respecting citizens that what they want is not to be found in the Republican or Tallahassee dominant Democrat Party, but with us. It is working, and I seek to grow our success throughout Florida as far as my strength and resources will let me.
As you well know, it is easy for others to forget that there is another distant part of Florida called the Panhandle. I live 140 miles to the west of Tallahassee, 475 miles from Tampa, and a full 745 miles from Miami. It is difficult for libertarians up here to participate in the many events going on in the southern part of the state (such as conventions), but that does not mean we are inconsequential. Few people anywhere have the time and the means to meaningfully travel the length and breadth of the state in the pursuit of LPF goals, but I made a commitment to myself and other Libertarians to participate in every convention, join in the LPF booth at the Florida State Fair, dial in in every LPF phone conference I could, and in 2012 even walked the halls of the State House Capitol handing out LPF position papers on issues to Panhandle legislators. State geography is a fact we have to live with, and given the distances involved, an at-large rep here clearly makes sense, and benefits local libertarians, the LPF, and yourself.
Distance has another effect in that it is obvious you, and others, do not know what I’ve been doing for the Party. I began the work of the LPF in my own County, Okaloosa, even before I was elected At-Large Rep. Okaloosa was the local center of support for the Snitker campaign in 2010, and led the State in voter turn-out for him. It is the same story for the Johnson Campaign. I am constantly seeking out talented and motivated people willing to work with the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party (NFLP) and the LPF, and have been privileged to find so many. Under my suggestion, the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party (formerly the LPOC, Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County) changed its Constitution to allow full participation by people in six neighboring counties that do not have the dedicated libertarians or resources to create their own affiliates. This does not mean the NFLP would not fully support any libertarian who wanted to create an affiliate in another county. On the contrary, our change brought together libertarians who would otherwise have nothing, and provides a basis for others to build on and grow around here. In order to seek out even more potential libertarians, I’ve encouraged participation in civic and activist groups formerly the exclusive domain of the major parties. As a result, the NFLP and the LPF are a known, and respected, feature in the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party, The Panhandle Patriots Tea Party, the Santa Rosa Tea Party, the Escambia County Tea Party, the Walton County Tea Parties (North and South), the Destin Chamber of Commerce (of which the NFLP is a member), the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, the Pensacola Rotary, the Okaloosa Island Condominium Association, and the Fort Walton Beach Kiwanis. We even showed up at a local Democrat Party hootnanny. For the same reasons, we are active in government. NFLP members have spoken before their respective County Commissions. I am a regular speaker at Okaloosa County Commission meetings, state representative ensembles, and the rare public appearances by our Congressman Jeff Miller, where I am a well-known voice of the opposition on a wide range of topics from official corruption, to unaccountable government in the Mid Bay Bridge Authority, to using public money to improve private property, to most recently, opposition to the state law that allows County government to pass secret tax breaks for particular businesses that the public, by law, may never know. I am a familiar name to local politicians, to all the Okaloosa candidates for Sheriff, as well as to State Representative Matt Gaetz, his father Senate President Don Gaetz, and Senator Greg Evers . Past Republican candidates for the State House, Mike Hill, and for Congress, David Scholl, were classmates of mine long ago. I’ve gotten to know who runs the major parties in the Panhandle, and by such associations the libertarian message is getting out, in the opposition camp, that there is an alternative to the major parties. Our message of individual rights, free markets, and limited government is both real and something the major parties constantly betray to the detriment of their supporters. People around here have come to know libertarians can be leaders, to like what they hear, and that we are here to stay.
My efforts on behalf of the LPF do not end there. Since 2009 I’ve written at least 60 opinion pieces published by the media, been on TV twice, and made numerous radio talk show calls advocating the libertarian position. I’ve also written papers for the express benefit of the LPF, such as the Convention Hotwashes, or surveys that recorded what went well and what went poorly. I’ve made hundreds of phone calls, and written thousands of emails, to registered libertarians keeping them informed, asking them to get involved, and inviting them to events. I’ve made my lists of contacts, media sources, and positions papers freely available to anyone working with the Party, including you, if you remember. I’ve given speeches at April 15th tax day rallies, the Fort Walton Beach Tea party, and the Eglin Air Force base Retirees Association, and the Escambia Teacher’s Union. For the sixth year in a row libertarians will construct a parade float to be in the Fort Walton Beach Billy Bowlegs Parade seen by thousands (kind of a Mardi Gras event) advertising our candidates. Local libertarians have operated a booth representing the LPF at the Northwest Florida Fair (5000 attendees), the Santa Rosa County Fair (20,000) and the Pensacola Interstate Fair (250,000+). The April meeting of the NFLP attracted attention in that we had Ms. KrisAnne Hall as a guest speaker, who can be added to the list of past speakers including Lawrence Vance (of von Mises), Kerry Bowers (of the FairTax) and Karl Denninger (of the Market Ticker), and Paul Rubin (Senior Economist under Reagan) . I also maintain the NFLP website, libertarianpoc.org. As you can see, I seek out and try to take advantage of opportunities as I come across them.
Of course, I must make special mention that I was also campaign manager for Calen Fretts for Congress in the First District of Florida. It is difficult to describe what it takes to run a Congressional campaign without it sounding like hyperbole, but it is an effort which takes hundreds of hours of continuous effort, and occupied my time for a full year. There had not been a libertarian campaign in the Panhandle since 1994. The who, what, where, whens and whys of a Federal campaign had to be immediately learned and were successfully applied by me. A libertarian had never been on the Congressional ballot in this District before Calen Fretts, and it was only through persistence and planning that Calen achieved that milestone using the petition method. This was something even his Republican opponent could not boat of, though he tried. Despite the lack of affiliates and a regional LPF rep, I found and organized 33 working libertarian volunteers covering an area of 5200 square miles. In the end, although he lost the election, his campaign spread lasting respect for Calen Fretts and Libertarians throughout the District, and it has raised serious questions in the minds of many Republican voters about the efficacy of reelecting the incumbent to office year after year. The Libertarian Party in Florida is stronger for the Fretts campaign. You might remember that I sent a complete Hotwash of the Fretts campaign to all LPF Executive Committee members, for their benefit, something I do not think any other campaign did.
It is clear these activities take money, lots of money, which has heightened my concern over the lack of fundraising by the LPF. The NFLP had $2000 in donations in 2012, and already we have $3000 for 2013, but we are a relatively small organization. The Fretts Campaign gathered about $15,000 in contributions ($1000 of which came from the LPF), but the Libertarian State Party can only boast of a $25,000 war chest for the whole state. Lack of funds is the single greatest limit on our effectiveness as a political party, and we must fix that. To do so I propose the LPF concentrate on three areas. The first is our message. People want to be in control of their own lives and money, and we need to better present how a libertarian in government would be in the voter’s self- interest. We must show how this puts money in their pockets without government handouts. Next is fundraising. I will continue seeking out politically active people and donors in the Panhandle and use better techniques to persuade them that it is in their own interest to ditch the major parties. It is easy to spend money, and it is frequently necessary to further our cause, but spending without means to recoup what is spent is a plan for disaster. The last part is candidates. Finding candidates is hard, but it is easier when we present an attractive message, and have donors that can support a candidate who wants to win. That is what people who run for office want to do, win. Of these three goals the most important is fundraising and that will be, for me, the major priority that the LPF should pursue in the future.
Being a lawyer is a skill worth having in these litigious times we live in, but I am not a stranger to applying the law to policy. My undergraduate degree is in political science from the United States Air Force Academy, where I also took classes in law, and my graduate degree is in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. I was the political advisor for the United States Forces in the Azores and had daily contact with Portuguese, Department of Defense and Department of State officials, including their lawyers, over matters related to administering the only bilateral treaty for the stationing of United States troops in Europe. This treaty covered everything from the passage of military forces through Portugal to the hiring of local workers. I performed the prep work for renegotiating this treaty. I’ve represented the United States before Ambassadors, under Secretaries of State, and foreign militaries including a guerilla army when I served with the United Nations. I read the law, and still believe an average citizen, like me, can navigate the legal rocks with prudence and foresight. I was the first to point out and take action almost two years ago over how the LPF was not in compliance with several parts of the Florida statutes FS97-106. I learn more every day how the law is stacked against third party participation in the political process, and increasingly think we must fight this trend for the sake of the Republic. Furthermore, northwest Florida has a concentration of military interests unlike the rest of the state. The Cradle of Naval Aviation is based in Pensacola, there is a Navy flight training center in Escambia County, and the Eglin Range is the largest Air Force Base in the U.S., spanning three counties. I’ve seen three wars, and my career as a pilot and officer assigned to Special Operations, and experience flying the Predator drone, lends me credibility in circles that the Libertarian Party needs to court.
I hope I get your vote. Let’s work together to make a stronger Libertarian Party.