Saturday, July 25, 2009

She's Not A Libertarian, But She Could Be

Marion County GOP Chairman David Brooks tagged Elizabeth Karlson as a "Libertarian", among other things, in an e-mail he sent her yesterday (copied to about 20 people) sacking her as a ward chair in Washington Township. Indiana Libertarian Party Executive Director Chris Spangle sent out this response today to Brooks' erroneous claim:

As the E.D. of the LPIN, I want to make it clear that Liz Karlson has not, and is not, a member of the Libertarian Party, it's Indiana affiliate, or of Marion County. She never offered to join, and we did not ask, because she is committed to growing the Republican Party, and the Republican Liberty Caucus. Liz has worked diligently in organizing the Republican Liberty Caucus, and has been picking at our membership to recruit for the Republican Party. We allowed this for two reasons: A. No one wanted to go back. And C. We are good friends with Liz. We are comfortable enough with ourselves to hang out with members of another party. To anyone who asks why Libertarian Party members don't work from within the two old parties for reform, here are your answers.
I have said for years that Libertarians pose a significant threat to the future viability of the Republican Party in Marion County. I've offered a number of examples in the past where close races were lost by Republicans in which a Libertarian candidate drew more support than the losing margin of the Republican candidate in the race. Marion County has been trending Democratic for years, and there is simply no margin for error. Spangle's comments are dead-on with respect to Karlson's efforts to attract Libertarian-leaning persons into the party. Brooks' move against Karlson is a setback in attracting those people that the Republican Party desperately needs to bring into the party.

It is my suspicion that the party's decision to dump Karlson and another ward chair, Eric Smith, has more to do with their support of Scott Schneider over Ryan Vaughn, the party's candidate, in this week's Senate District 30 race to replace Sen. Teresa Lubbers. Fellow bloggers Scott Fluhr and Paul Ogden have more on that here and here. I would add that Brooks' e-mail specifically denied this as a reason for his decision, and he copied now-Sen. Scott Schneider on the e-mail he sent to Karlson. People like Karlson had become very disillusioned with Lubbers, who had become aloof and non-responsive to many of her constituents. Not surprisingly, Karlson and other like-minded Republicans found Libertarian candidate Steve Keltner an attractive alternative in the last election. Keltner has since joined the Republican Party thanks, in part, to Karlson's efforts.

[Update: The Star's Josh Duke has posted an online story here. He quotes Brooks as saying the decision to fire Karlson and Smith was made prior to Tuesday's caucus: "Liz has openly supported Libertarian candidates, and Eric's firing was just a management decision," Brooks told Duke. "I had made the decision to fire them before the caucus, and I actually wanted to do it so there wouldn't be any fuss about the caucus voting." Duke's quoted response from Karlson: "It didn't surprise me because it is well known in the Republican Party that these strong-arm tactics have been used before when you go against the party leadership," Karlson said. "I'm disappointed in the county leadership, but there are a lot of good grassroots Republican people out there so I will continue to remain active as a Republican precinct committeeman and in the Washington Township GOP Club."]

What I find perplexing is the differing treatment of persons within the party on the so-called issue of loyalty. The Marion Co. GOP leadership itself refused to aid the election of three of the at-large candidates for City-County Council in the 2007 municipal election despite the fact that two of them were slated by the party. Party leaders reasoned that by supporting only Kent Smith, an African-American, it could lure a sufficient number of African-American voters to scratch their straight- ticket ballots in the at-large council races and, by doing so, cancel out their votes for the four at-large Democratic candidates. While party leaders may think that racist strategy secured the wins of two other at-large council candidates, Ed Coleman and Barbara Malone, also an at-large African-American candidate, the truth is that it only succeeded in costing the Republicans a seat on the council, a seat that could have been held by the fourth at-large candidate, Michael Hegg. Since the election, Ed Coleman left the party and became a Libertarian. There has also been concerns expressed that Democrat-turned Republican Malone could return to the Democratic Party fold, leaving the council evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and giving a tie-breaking vote to Coleman.

There are countless examples of high-ranking members of the party who openly dissed Greg Ballard's candidacy and even supported the re-election of Bart Peterson. The county chairman, Tom John, was among those dismissing Ballard's chances right up to end of the race. One City-County Councilor, Scott Keller, endorsed Peterson's re-election, attended his fundraisers and voted for his tax increases in an election year. Immediately after the election, the Republicans appointed Keller to the coveted Metropolitan Development Commission. Keller had also served as a precinct committeeperson for many years. He neglected to file for a spot last year, but the party appointed him to a vacant position anyway despite his support of Peterson in the prior election. Keller was on hand at Tuesday night's caucus to boost Ryan Vaughn's candidacy. If the party's decision to fire Karlson and Smith had anything to do with party loyalty, their definition of loyalty is a rather strained one I must add. Have some of us been highly critical of Mayor Greg Ballard? Absolutely, but our views are based on his failure to carry through on key pledges he made as a candidate. Those failures have weakened his support significantly among the core constituency that put him in office.

The message in these firings could not be more clear. The party is not interested in people who participate in the political process to further a public policy agenda that they believe is most compatible with the guiding principles of the Republican Party. They only want people who are job-seekers or government contract-seekers who they can control. Participation in politics should be reserved for their professional political class only and everyone else should just go away. It's that attitude within both political parties that has contributed to the eroding trust people have in their government and their elected officials. God forbid anyone within the party be capable of thinking for him or herself.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Terrific post, Gary. You brought in additional facts that makes a mockery over the stated reasons for the ward chairmen's dismissal.

They have no problem with people who supported Bart Peterson working in the party organization. We even have one who is a Vice Mayor. They seem to have no problem when the Mayor Ballard falls on the sword for things the Peterson administration did. In fact they encourage the Mayor to do that, despite the fact it will cripple any chance he has of re-election. Make no mistake about it, people like Tom John and David Brooks are in the political game to benefit themselves and their friends, not to advance the Republican Party.

Unknown said...

If I understand things right, Ward Chairman are not mandated like PCs and are appointed by the Chairman.

I think this argument would hold a lot more water if we were talking about an elected PC. An appointed Ward Chair has more of an obligation to be in step with Party Leadership since they aerve at their pleasure.

Gary R. Welsh said...

These are elected PCs in question. The party doesn't want elected PCs; they only want people who are appointed and will do what they are ordered to do. The original concept of our two-party system was based on the notion that power rested at the lowest level of the organization--at the precinct level--and flowed upward, a bottom-up organizaton, not a top-down organization. I find it anethema to a democratic form of government that a small group of insiders think they should be able to meet in the backroom and decide who gets to run for office and who doesn't. This is how our judges are chosen in Marion County and you can see well that works.

Paul K. Ogden said...


First of all, the county chairman cannot fire an elected PC.

No, the role of the GOP organization, including ward chairman which I used to be, is to support Republican candidates. They don't exist for the purpose of supporting the friends and favorites of particular party leaders in Republican caucuses. When party organizations are used that way, which is exactly what Brooks and John are doing, it destroys the free thought necessary to recruit and retain party workers.

By your measure, every appointed party worker, including many PCs who are appointed and not elected, should be canned for not supporting Ryan Vaughn, who Tom John supported. That would make a mockery out of every caucus and slating. It doesn't work that way and if the organization is used that way, the leadership needs to resign because it's destructive to our party.

Nobody said...

I once was a Republican, but the party left me years ago. When I turned 18 about fifteen years ago, I realized that they were no longer in favor of limited government, thus I could not distinguish the difference between them and the Democratic party.

As years have passed, I have seen the Libertarian party grow at an incredible pace. No longer is the party looking to slate warm bodies as candidates and have become much more professional as an organization and with Ed Coleman leaving the GOP and many others starting to question their own party brand, it's just a matter of time before the Libertarians will become a major political force in our state.

Like most middle-of-the-road Americans, I have friends from all walks of life and though we disagree on certain points, we have a mutual respect and admiration for each other. These types of friendships forge a true allegiance based upon principle rather than following a blank banner in Dante's Inferno and I believe we are now in a prime position to show the 2-party big government oligopoly and voters that they do have an alternative voice. We are now in the process of launching a huge fund raising project that will capitalize on these aspects and slice up the pie by convincing normal GOP & Democrat supporters to split their donations by giving a certain percentage to the Libertarians.

As we all know, once the money comes it, we will be afforded the opportunity to utilize the media in ways to promote limited government and also focus upon campaigns where we can stick our bull dog candidates to focus upon attacking the big government candidates from either party--even if that means we do not win the seat. The goal is to neutralize the efforts of Tom Johns and others who have worked to sever relationships with people who are a true benefit towards their organizations.

In any case, I am very appreciative towards the convictions of Liz Carlson who have shown true character and that defines leadership.

Paul K. Ogden said...

AI, is exactly correct. A party organization is designed to have the power flow from bottom to top. They want everyone to be appointed though so they can manipulate outcomes.

Mike Kole said...

There is a consistency that Keltner will discover, just as sure as Ed Coleman did, as Andy Horning had, as Ron Paul had- that is, the GOP leadership is generally happy to suck up votes from libertarians, but has no interest in bringing libertarians into any meaningful place of leadership. If a libertarian wishes to be marginalized or ostracized, the GOP is a great place to receive such treatment.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I should add that at last year's 7th District GOP special election caucus there was an attempt by these same party leaders to force Jon Elrod out in favor of Tom Rose, who had moved back to the U.S. from Israel after living abroad for a number of years. Mayor Ballard stood up at that caucus and told the PCs that he wouldn't participate in telling them how to vote. He thought they should reach that decision on their own without any arm-twisting from party leaders. He reversed that position 18 months later and tried to tell PCs to back Ryan Vaughn over Scott Schneider. What changed?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Don't count on that, Paul. They've threatened to remove me as an elected PC.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You are right. There is a back way of removing an elected PC, but as I recall it's pretty difficult to do. It's been awhile since I've looked at the statute and/or party rules in that regard. I have never seen an elected PC removed.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I would point out that it's not that the Marion GOP Party leaders are against conservative principles. They just don't care. They see the party organization as a tool to be used for their profit and for their friends profit. Political philosophy means nothing to them.

Douglass said...

So apparently the libertarians are Republican enough to "steal" Republican votes, but not Republican enough to run for office as Republicans or serve in Republican party positions.

This is why I resisted the temptation to join the GOP and serve as a precinct committeeman there, despite the encouragement of many RLC members. I would rather serve a small party that respects my choices and my liberty than serve a powerful, successful party that is authoritarian and will sabotage any member who dares to disagree with the establishment.

artfuggins said...

Ward Chairs are appointed by the County Chair to serve at the pleasure of the County Chair. He has the right even without a reason for making a change. Given the current chaotic shape of the sinking ship known as the Marion County Republican Party, he may have done her a favor.

M Theory said...

God help them if they mess with Gary Welsh.

It is my understanding that Tom John's job was to ensure that Mayor Ballard did not get elected and Peterson did.

These snakes are the exact thing they accuse others of being.

And as an aside, is Jacob Perry the only blogger out there siding with these self-serving liars? I find it humorous he enters the debate from his mommy's basement in Florida.

Paul K. Ogden said...

No, Art, a county chairman does not have the "right" to fire someone when the decision is because that person supported another candidate in a vacancy caucus. As members of the organization we have a right to support whoever we want. I would add that Brooks has no authority to fire anyone. He's just an area chairman...from Hamilton County no less.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I wonder if David Brooks and Tom John plan to punish Carl Brizzi for failing to show up at Tuesday night's caucus to deliver an introduction of Ryan Vaughn as originally planned?

M Theory said...

You think Brizzi feels the heat and doesn't want to get in the frying pan with his buddies?

Jacob Perry said...

Donaghy, I moved out of my parents residence in 1993 to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. Perhaps you should ask your partner why he so easily fell for such a story (I guess not realizing we don't have basements in Florida), and not knowing I was setting a trap to prove he was engaging in gossip?

Re: Liz, I never stated her removal had nothing to do with her support for Schneider. It's common sense that her work in the SD30 caucus was the final straw, and also shows why Tom john is the most incompetent Chair I've ever witnessed.

But what Spangle's spin leaves out is that Liz has actively worked with at least two LOP candidates against Republicans. That isn't even being disputed here.

Would anyone else allow a person in a leadership position in their party to actively support and work for a candidate in an opposing party? Incompetent chair or not, I doubt any of us would.

Regardless, I stand behind what I wrote 100%. I realize that it doesn't fully support the grand conspiracies that others would like to promote, but I can't help that. Sometimes the truth is a little more simple.

Jacob Perry said...

Oh, and to follow up on something else mentioned, it was me, and me alone who recruited Andy Horning into the GOP, though it was obviously Andy who made the final decision when the deal was presented to him. I was the one who made the initial contacts on his behalf, went to the meetings with him, and was around for the aftermath.

And while it's certainly true that the party failed to live up to most of the promises made to him (particularly "Furniture Man", the esteemed former chair), it's just as accurate that Andy didn't live up to his end of the bargain either. it would also be accurate that neither Ms. Donaghy, Mr. Ogden or Mrs. Karlson were actively involved in that 2004 campaign, nor was Mr. Spangle, aside from attending a public forum or two.

But I do so enjoy reading comments from people who weren't even around when all of this went down and who've never spoken to me about the events that took place, though many of the stories that've since surfaced are quite entertaining.

While its possibly true that Liz might've had something to do with Steve Keltner's return to the GOP, it's also true that the effort began in earnest when I met with Steve last summer in a meeting set up by Tim Maguire. It was I who then put Steve with people like my friends Mike Delph and Robb Greene, who helped seal the deal. Liz wasn't in attendance for those discussions as far as I'm aware.

Wilson46201 said...

This kerfuffle may have less to do with the SD30 vote and much more about the forthcoming CIB Bailout vote in the City-County Council. Getting those recalcitrant GOP votes may require massive arm-twisting and "muscle" to pull it off. Sometimes a County Chair has to demonstrate some power to "whip" the needed votes from reluctant Republican Councilors...

Paul K. Ogden said...


So what you've just said is that it's okay to terminate a ward chairman for not supporting who the leadership wants at a party caucus.

Your honor, I'd like to rest my case.

Game, set, match.

M Theory said...

Jacob, where do you live now? Are you a property owner? Are you finally able to put a roof over the heads of your family without living off your relatives?

You may have moved out in 93, but you moved back in.

And while I was not involved in Andy's campaign, I don't see you hanging out with Andy today. Why is that?

Since you and Andy are so tight, then why weren't you there with the rest of his friends to say goodbye a few weeks ago?

Jacob Perry said...

Donaghy, since you missed it the first time, let me spell it out for you:

You fell for a con. You've been had.

Beyond that, my relationship with my parents isn't anymore your business than your relationship with yours would be my business.

Nor is my relationship with Andy, or really anyone else. My attendance at some public function means nothing, though for someone like you who relies on public displays for your entire being, it probably would. Some of us keep things in private.

I must confess your obsession with me is rather bizarre, though it may be just another manifestation of your creepiness.

Ogden, If not supporting the Chair's hand-picked candidate were grounds for removal, lots of people would be gone. You may have noticed that quite a few people voted for Schneider.

But if that were the sole reasoning for this move, why has it been in the works for some weeks now? Riddle me that one, mister political expert?

M Theory said...

Perry's an insider wannabe. He doesn't remain friends because he betrays them.

He doesn't have it together enough to even buy a home for his family, yet calls himself an "adult" and his political enemies, who are far more accomplished, "children".

He desperately wants to please the self-serving political scum that use him to do their dirty work and believes they are his "friends". Perry happily laps up whatever slop they give him, while he brands himself as a Christian.

When you read his words, do you think Christian?

Perry betrayed every principled person I know with whom he once associated.

And now the scum, he so desperately tries to please, are going to use him, then kick him to the curb.


artfuggins said...

READ again closely.....ward chairs are appointed by the county chair and can be replace by the county chair at any reason is needed......elected PCs cannot be fired although there is a hearing process where they can be accused of disloyalty to the party and have a hearing. I dont dispute the inability to fire PCs but ward chairs are a whole different story.

Paul K. Ogden said...


It's similiar to an at-will employee. Yes, the general rule is that they can be fired for any reason. However, if the firing is for one of the few reasons that is improper, then no they can't be fired.

If you think it's okay for the county chairman to fire ward chairman for not supporting the chairman's choice in a caucus, I assure you you are very much mistaken. Even Tom John and David Brooks aren't taking that position. They're claiming the firing had nothing to do with the WCs supporting someone else. They know it would be improper for them to have fired the WCs for supporting Schneider.

Sean Shepard said...

Regarding previous comments about the 2004 Horning Republican Campaign (7th District).

I first met Liz Karlson at a fundraiser for Andy Horning in 2004 when he was running as a Republican.

Chris Spangle was very active in Andy Horning's 2004 Republican Campaign and he, and additional volunteers he brought, spent time helping on days where he could have been getting paid by another campaign.

While most people associated with that campaign are not proud of how it may have been conducted (on a total of $25,000 against Julia Carson's hundreds of thousands) and the lack of commitment from GOP leadership; I know many of us are proud to have been, and continue to be, his friend.

For what it is worth, Andy came within .5 to 1% of Broze McVey's percentage of vote total. $25,000 (about 25 cents per vote) versus McVey's $1.2 million (about $21.00 a vote if memory serves). McVey ran in an off-year (2002), Andy was a highly contested Presidential year and the district, as Gary and Paul Ogden often point out in their BLOGs is heavily Democrat.

I know the GOP leadership took issue back in 2008 with Ms. Karlson's friendship and support of Steve Keltner; but, it is worth noting that she contributed to his party switch or has at least helped introduce him around as he joined the Republican Party.