Libertarian National Committee Region 7

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"for breaching confidentiality in executive session."

And so, one Libertarian asked . . .

I think this phrase has been perhaps the biggest touchstone for a lot of the problems that have occurred.

So perhaps we need to simplify this a bit.

When, precisely, is confidentiality a part of the executive session, or is the entire session confidential?

What is the purpose of the confidentiality?

What mechanisms are in play to prevent confidentiality from becoming misused, as a way to hide misdeeds?

Do the minutes truly reflect sessions (and who are minutes available to?) or are they “sanitized” to hide stuff?


I hear from the “confidentiality is important” crowd some important points. For example, we would not want to reveal too much strategy as this could leave us vulnerable to being undercut by others. We might want to be careful about some details that might compromise privacy for another example.

I hear from the “sunshine/accountability” camp some equally important points. For example, some feel that confidentiality is misused to hide misdeeds or sloppy accounting. I might add that out here in CA, our governmental agencies have sunshine laws now, and a whole lot of them balk at having to divulge much even when required to do so. I do NOT want to see the LP in a position where we are not divulging enough information to ensure that our money and our activism is being used wisely.


(I’m trying to be even-handed here although I confess to being in the sunshine camp, probably because I do worry about misdeeds.)

Perhaps the most constructive thing that could possibly happen with all of this is a really sound policy on confidentiality, one that is crystal clear to everyone. If confidentiality is used wisely and is not used to hide bad actions, if it is used judiciously and not for entire sessions, and if everyone is clear on when confidentiality is being invoked, and when recording/blogging/transmittal of the session would be inappropriate, perhaps this whole thing will have been good after all.

Rachel replies . . .


1. The National Committee shall have control and management of all the affairs, properties and funds of the Party consistent with these Bylaws. The Libertarian National Committee shall establish and oversee an organizational structure to implement the purposes of the Party as stated in Article 3. The National Committee shall adopt rules of procedure for the conduct of its meetings and the carrying out of its duties and responsibilities. The National Committee may delegate its authority in any manner it deems necessary.

LNC Manual . . .



The LNC may enter into Executive Session only in compliance with this policy.


Prior to entering into Executive Session, a motion must be made, seconded, and passed. The motion to enter Executive Session must list all reasons for doing so. If the list of reasons is solely comprised of the identified topics listed below, a majority of LNC members voting is required for passage. If any topic other than those listed below is given, a two-thirds vote of LNC members voting shall be required for passage.


Identified topics for entering into an Executive Session shall include:

i. Legal matters (potential, pending, or past)

ii. Regulatory and compliance matters (potential, pending, or past)

iii. Contractual compliance

iv. Personnel matters (including evaluation, compensation, hiring, or dismissal)

v. Board self-evaluation

vi. Strategic issues (only those requiring confidentiality)

vii. Negotiations (potential, pending, or past)


No action can be taken while in Executive Session. Discussion of action which may be taken in Open Session can occur.


i. With regard to Executive Sessions relating to topics i, ii, iii, iv, and v above, no recording shall be made and no minutes shall be taken.

ii. With regard to Executive Sessions relating to topics vi and vii above, recordings shall be made and minutes shall be taken, however, those recordings and minutes shall be only be made available to members of the LNC until such time as the LNC – by a vote of two-thirds of those LNC members present – votes to incorporate those recordings and minutes into its public records. Nothing in this section shall require the LNC to ever make these records public.

iii. With regard to Executive Sessions relating to topics not enumerated above, recordings shall be made and minutes shall be taken. Immediately upon return to Open Session, the LNC may either – by majority vote – treat those recordings and minutes consistent with i (destroy them) or to treat those recordings and minutes consistent with ii (to maintain them as non-public records subject to possible future release upon a vote of two-thirds of those LNC members present at a future meeting).


Without exception, LNC members are obligated to maintain complete confidentiality regarding what transpires in any Executive Session whose recordings and minutes have not been made public. The only information that may be communicated by any LNC member regarding any such Executive Session is the time it began, the time it ended, the text of the motion to go into Executive Session, and any publicly available details of the debate and voting on the motion to go into Executive Session. Any LNC member who is unwilling to commit to adhering to this policy regarding any particular Executive Session is obligated to excuse himself or herself from the entire Executive Session and to request that the Secretary notes his or her absence from the Executive Session in the minutes of the meeting.


Breach of this requirement of confidentiality shall be grounds of disciplinary action by the LNC without limitation except as provided for in the Bylaws. These restrictions shall not be deemed to prohibit any participant in an Executive Session from publicly disclosing information discussed in Executive Session, if: (1) compelled by legal process to do so; or (2) the same information is publicly available from other sources, not as the result of a participant's misconduct, and the participant does not reveal that it was discussed in Executive Session; or (3) the LNC, and all the participants in the Executive Session, first consent to its release.


Notwithstanding the provisions of Article V, Section 3 A, should a breach of confidentiality by an LNC member result in a liability on the part of the Party, its officers, employees, agents, or other members of the LNC, the provisions of Article V, Section 3 A shall not preclude the Party, officer, employee, agent, or member of the LNC from seeking to hold the breaching LNC member liable.

Note from Rachel . . .

First, while I have only been to two meetings, these rules have been scrupulously followed. I will, to the best of my ability, ALWAYS make sure that is the case. I like sunshine.

And I also recognize that some sensitive matters must be confidential until we're ready to act. For instance, something else that actually took up most of time in Exec Session on Sat was the Alan Gura discussion of BCRA lawsuit. We discussed it for some time. We came out of Exec., and moved to act. Voted. Yes. We are going to file lawsuit, with Gura (he was the Heller lawyer) as our attorney. This was one of the substantive decisions of the weekend, and since the motion was made, seconded and passed (in open session, as required), it is NO LONGER CONFIDENTIAL, and I can share it.

The meeting binders always include the Manual and the Bylaws, so we have easy access to them. Remember that I said earlier that we were flipping through Bylaws and Manual furiously during Exec? I checked every damn citation. Citations were added to motions. You can check things yourselves, but please hear me: the rules were scrupulously followed. And I wasn't the only one. At one point, in the heat of the Gura discussion (I was excited about it!) I did try to make a motion. I was immediately shot down.

Basically, you need to be sure that we have some people on the LNC - (be they Officers, Regional Reps or At-Large) that you trust to follow the rules, and to object otherwise. People who have the courage of their convictions, and the cojones/ovarios to object within the rules when the rules are not followed.

BTW - my Hugs serves on a school board, and their Exec Session policy is almost exactly the same. And we are a state with Public Open Meeting Act.


George Donnelly said...

What is the rationale for this one exactly?

v. Board self-evaluation

This seems circular. What determines which issues are strategic and which of those are confidential?

vi. Strategic issues (only those requiring confidentiality)

This strikes me as overly broad:

vii. Negotiations (potential, pending, or past)

What about the courage to break the rules when convictions dictate it?

LNC Region 7 said...

First - this is my opinion. I didn't write it, so I don't know intent of writers . . .

*v. Board self-evaluation*

It's much easier and better to do critique of both our own, and our fellow members' actions in a safe place.

Some of that might be public latter, but saying "Rachel, your little stunt with the ice cream and the airplane was just over the damn top" might not help make good intercommittee relationships, or inter/outer relationships.

*vi. Strategic issues (only those requiring confidentiality)*

What strategy are we going to use to win this election? You don't see the importance of a little hush? (I'm going to use a little Ransberger Pivot maneuver in debates. Now opponent runs out and researches Ransberger, and out pivots me.)

*vii. Negotiations (potential, pending, or past)*

How are we going to win this lawsuit, or defend ourselves against this suit?

George, do you conduct all your business meeting on the internet? The LNC is the business of the LP.

And the courage to break the rules - when we object, in any part of our lives, to the rules, it is best and most effective to try to change the rules from within the rules. If that doesn't work, or if it is an emergency, then breaking the rules might be the only option.

We've all seen how well it works to change drug laws by just breaking them, huh?

Changing things within the rules is what works best; long term, and easiest. Breaking the rules tends to shift the focus from the "wrongness" of the rules to the wrongness of the breech of rules.

George Donnelly said...

> What strategy are we going to use to win this election?

What elections does the LNC run or plot strategy for?

You mention lawsuit as the rationale for vii but that is already covered under i.

> George, do you conduct all your business meeting on the internet?

My businesses are not non-profit political organizations. The rules are different for a political party.

Transparency in government is one of the things we're fighting for isn't it? If so, how can we be credible activists for that value if we don't practice it ourselves?

> Changing things within the rules is what works best; long term, and easiest. Breaking the rules tends to shift the focus from the "wrongness" of the rules to the wrongness of the breech of rules.

I take it you're not a fan of civil disobedience then.

LNC Region 7 said...

When civil disobedience hurts others, I am absolutely against it. It's a form of aggression.

Sitting on the sidewalk, starving yourself, with a sign is harmless. Blocking freeway traffic in rush hour is not (a recent occurence here). In that case, it was obvious - ambulances couldn't get through.

We also had WTO riots a few years ago. Those animals thought they were doing the right thing with civil disobedience. They shut down the city, hurt people physically and financially. Innocent people. Major aggression.

So, George, go forth and have a gentle day.

George Donnelly said...

I am surprised that a member of the LNC does not know what civil disobedience is.

"Civil disobedience ... is a form of aggression."

This is blatantly false.

Civil disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power, without resorting to physical violence. It is one of the primary tactics of nonviolent resistance. In its most nonviolent form (known as ahimsa or satyagraha) it could be said that it is compassion in the form of respectful disagreement.

LNC Region 7 said...

No, George, your editing of my words is blatantly false.

And anyone who can read can see it.

Remember, next time you post here, that honesty and civility are important.

And editing my words, in order to change the meaning, is neither.

Have a gentle day . . . :o)

George Donnelly said...

I did not "edit" your words. You said:

"When civil disobedience hurts others, I am absolutely against it. It's a form of aggression."

Civil disobedience, by definition, is nonviolent. Therefore, it can never hurt others. IOW, civil disobedience is not an initiation of force.

Therefore, either you are saying that civil disobedience is a form of a aggression, or what you are saying is muddled and needs clarification in order to be understood the way you apparently now want it to be understood.

My quote of your words was accurate.

I have been entirely honest and civil in my comments here.

Implying that I am unable to read and that I have not been honest and civil, on the other hand, is most certainly lacking in civility, if not honesty.

LNC Region 7 said...

I said "When civil disobedience hurts others, I am absolutely against it. It's a form of aggression.

I said “Sitting on the sidewalk, starving yourself, with a sign is harmless. Blocking freeway traffic in rush hour is not (a recent occurrence here). In that case, it was obvious - ambulances couldn't get through."

While the acts may not be violent - as I explained, this non-violent demonstration was most definitely an act of aggression.

"Anti-war protesters temporarily shut down WA-520

Police arrested about a half-dozen anti-war protesters who blocked the Washington 520 bridge across Lake Washington during the morning commute today."

While in your world, blocking a bridge may be "civil disobedience", here it's most definitely aggression. Traffic came to a *dead stop* for more than 30 min during rush hour. It took more than 3 hours for normal traffic patterns to resume. Being held hostage in traffic because some somebody "wants to send a message" is also an initiation of force, IMNHO.

And if you don't think that blocking our bridges is aggression, this "uncivil" act kept an ambulance from getting to the Trauma Center. It takes an extra 40 min or so to go around the top of the lake.

"Critical Mass is a group of cyclists that takes to the streets the last Friday of every month to promote cyclists' right to the road."

Sounds peaceful, until you see them block roads, hem people in for 10 min. or more, and then react violently when the blocked drivers attempt to get out, or go around.
Blocking people is aggression, IMNHO. Someone blocking the way is holding other people hostage.

And as to whether you read or not, George – = LNCRegion7 = Rachel Hawkridge. None of it is hidden. And you continue to be fairly abrasive here, then email me questions over there. And you missed the explanation I included in the first comment on “civil disobedience”. I don’t know any other explanation.

This is civil and so is ""I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions...If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them." Ghandhi

Blocking bridges, or filling the streets with bikes is