Virginia Libertarian Party disbands after National Party’s ‘bigoted’ turn, ex-president says

If a political party’s primary goal is to field candidates for office, former Virginia Libertarian Party chairwoman Holly Ward says it feels like a ‘violation’ to keep taking people’s money .

“Clearly we can’t function,” Ward said in an interview as she explained why the party is disbanding as a corporation and returning the nearly $30,000 it had in the bank.

Ward provided documents showing the party had disbanded its Virginia corporation, but other Libertarians questioned the legitimacy of the move and insisted the party would live on.

In an emailed statement, Angela McArdle, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, said that as of Tuesday evening the national body “does not acknowledge that a disaffiliation has occurred and we await members of the Libertarian Party of Virginia.” . to issue a statement about it.

“As far as I know, the alleged disaffiliation and resolve of the Libertarian Party of Virginia is the actions of a small group of thuggish individuals who exploited their positions of power and decided to disaffiliate without regard for other members of the party or their organization’s bylaws,” McArdle said.

Ward, a 36-year-old Northern Virginia resident who works in technology, said the disarray over the status of libertarians in Virginia was part of a larger battle over the tone and direction of the national party. The resolution to dissolve the state party, which Ward said was approved on Sunday in a 7-6-1 vote by the party’s central committee, said the national party has become “functionally indistinguishable from other parties and alt-right movements.

These “destructive” ideas, according to the resolution, include “thinly veiled approval anti-Semitism, explicitly welcoming bigotry into the party, reversing the LP’s 50-year legacy support LGBTQ+ rights and openly denounce women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Act and democracy itself.

Ward attributed these tendencies to a libertarian faction called the Mises Caucus, which she says is taking over the party apparatus and discouraging libertarian candidates from running in swing states where they could hurt Republican votes and tip the balance sheet. result to the Democrats.

Ward cited several social media posts as examples of the types of posts she objected to, including National Party posts. saying “Social justice is a Marxist lie created to intimidate and divide the American people,” define democracy as “popular rule that endangers individual rights” and answer to the AP Stylebook suggesting that the pronoun “she” could no longer be used “since we no longer know what a woman is”. She also pointed to a deleted Martin Luther King Jr. Day Twitter post by the New Hampshire Libertarian Party, a national party account. amplified, which said “America is not indebted to black people, rather the reverse.” Another post from the New Hampshire account read “$6 million minimum wage or you’re anti-Semitic,” which many interpreted as a reference to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

“Obviously, I don’t support any of these posts,” Ward said. “It’s sectarian. It is absolutely repulsive.

Asked about criticism from the national party, McArdle said those sentiments came from the “same group of rogue actors” and may not reflect the views of all Virginia Libertarians.

Libertarians do not have a major presence in elected offices in Virginia, but they did at least have some clout in state politics.

In 2013, libertarian Robert Sarvis garnered more than 145,000 votes running for governor of Virginia, more than the difference between the winner, former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, and the loser, former Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. . At that time, the party was embroiled in a handful of lawsuits challenging Virginia’s strict ballot access laws, which many libertarians believe are designed to prevent any alternative movement from breaking through and competing with the two dominant parties. .

The party has since lost relevance, fielding no candidates in recent statewide elections and having little discernible impact on political debates in the state. A similar entity could reappear in another form, but the new issues raise serious questions about the viability of what was once Virginia’s most prominent third.

The Libertarians had no candidate in last year’s gubernatorial race, but the party defended its right to use “L” on state ballots to avoid confusion with the Party of Liberation, a third-party effort led by anti-police brutality campaigner Princess Blanding. .

Virginia’s State Corporation Commission online records show that the state’s Libertarian Party non-stock corporation is disbanding and the party’s website has already been taken down. But there appears to be an ongoing power struggle over whether or not the party should give up.

Daniel John, the state party secretary, emailed the Virginia Department of Elections on Sunday night saying “a few members of the organization acted improperly” in attempting to disband the party “against the wishes of of the organization and its statutes”.

“Because of their choices, they constructively resigned,” John wrote. “The rest of our board members and I will continue with business as usual.”

John did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A new Twitter account ostensibly representing Virginia Libertarians emerged on Sunday and also questioned the validity of the dissolution vote. And local libertarian chapters across the state stepped in to say the party was staying put.

“The Libertarian Party of Virginia attempted to dissolve itself in a childish coup that violated multiple procedures”, wrote the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia.

A spokesperson for the Department of Elections said that as of Monday, the Libertarian Party of Virginia PAC was still considered active and there had been no official communication outside of John’s email. According to its latest campaign finance report, the PAC took in just over $6,100 between January and March and had $26,984 on hand as of March 31.

Ward, the party’s former chair, said she doesn’t think notification to state election officials is necessary because Virginia only treats Democrats and Republicans as officially recognized political parties. A party must have received at least 10% of the vote in one of the last two statewide elections to be recognized as a political party.

If a different group wants to try reincorporating a new Libertarian Party of Virginia, Ward said, they are welcome. But she wondered what the interest would be since the party has no candidates to support.

“We couldn’t lead anybody,” Ward said. “No one is even willing to put their name behind this.”

Get morning headlines delivered to your inbox

About the author