Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pat Dixon, Tom Glass, and the Ed Kless Test

A few weeks ago, I got a disturbing letter from Tom Glass, a Houston attorney.  Tom and I are both members of the Texas State Libertarian Executive Committee. 

Tom has decided to run for Texas Libertarian Party Chair against the incumbent, Pat Dixon.  (I apologize for the poor scans and poor angles on Tom's letter.  If you right-click on each page you can increase the size in a new window.) 

That's one heck of a letter.  We're talking bribery and corruption in the Texas LP.
Let's hit the "pause" button for a moment.... 

I agree with my friend Ed Kless that contested races are a good thing for the Libertarian Party.  They can be a sign of health, and not just division. 
Ed wrote a good blog post last week about what an LP candidate should do to win his support in a contested race:
*Everything is on the table. There are no issues that I see that are off limits to constructive dialogue. Abortion, immigration, borders, liberty, toll roads, taxation, education, and drug laws are but a few of the important issues which need to be talked about in the open.

*No ad hominum attacks. The quickest way to lose my vote will be to attack your opponents with what are personal criticisms. This would include charges of violations of personal integrity. If you accuse someone of being dishonest, you better have some video evidence.

*Provide a clear vision of the future. I am interested in hearing what you have to say about the future of our country, state and party. The more you can illustrate your vision with specifics the more likely you are to win my vote. What is different about a country, state, or party with you at the helm?

*Exhibit a non-anxious presence. Anxiety and creativity are always inversely proportional to each other. The more anxious you are the less creative you will be. As a candidate for any position, I believe this is what is most needed today. In short, I want to see that you are calm under pressure. I want to see your ability to self-regulate your emotions.

*Embrace the genius of the AND by rejecting the tyranny of the OR. I want to hear how Libertarians are the future. I want to know how your candidacy will embrace the ideas the Libertarianism is about both debating the finer philosophical points AND can win elections. I reject the notion that they are mutually exclusive.
Let's repeat what Ed says in his second bullet-point:  "....if you accuse someone of being dishonest, you better have some video evidence."  
And you should be 100% right.  Not almost right, not kinda right, but "airtight right" if you accuse an LP opponent of dishonesty.  
I asked Pat Dixon to respond to Tom's letter. 

Here's Pat's reply.  Statements from Tom's letter are in italics:

"When Ron Paul re-entered politics as a Republican in 1996, I pursued the Republican Party route ..."

I have never been anything but a Libertarian. I joined the LP in college in 1984 and never left

"a big bucks donor offered her money to abandon her secure border platform"
"This attempt to sell our Party was done with the knowledge and implicit consent of our chair."

Joe Liemandt gave $100k to LPTX in 2009. He made a matching $150k donation in 2010. There were no strings attached. The LP TX state committee controlled these funds, not Joe. Our platform did not become open borders. Kathie Glass was nominated. Joe's investment had no impact on our platform or nomination. After Kathie's nomination, she and Tom approached me and Robert Butler about getting a donation to her campaign from Joe.

I met with them in Austin and they said they needed a lot of money to get the campaign off the ground and wanted me to help get financial support from Joe. I said that I know there is a difference of opinion about immigration policy but perhaps there is some common ground and that they would need to address that issue to get support from Joe. Joe declined to meet with them. Joe has never met or spoke with Kathie or Tom. Joe never offered money to her campaign and there was no attempt to sell the party.

"I was saddened to see how the party leadership not only failed to support but at times actively undermined our active, serious candidates "

Before I became chair in 2004, we were almost removed from the ballot. We had no money, no staff, few candidates, and little candidate support. Since then we set records for the number of candidates on the ballot and put staff in place to support candidates. There is no credible evidence that we actively undermined any of our candidates. We have been told that we give more support to our candidates than Democrats and Republicans give to theirs.

" our party must be more than a hobby"

That is why we have maintained full time staff ever since I became chair. Our staff along with many volunteers and county leaders provide efforts that amount to more than a hobby

"Guard against corruption of the LPT and our candidates"

There is no credible evidence of corruption of our candidates or our party. I have placed ethics and principles above politics in the Libertarian Party and in my life

"'Recognize the party is a service organization to our candidates"
"They need our support"

We have been told that we give more support to our candidates than Democrats and Republicans give to theirs. With full time staff we have provided more support in the past. We have offered training and provided resources while giving autonomy to candidates and their campaigns. We always strive to do a better job

"Craft messages that emphasize how our Party and candidates are aligned with the vast majority of Texas on the issues that matter to them"

I don't believe the chair of the party is the only messaging vehicle. Our candidates are the best vehicle for delivering the message and the chair does not dictate this message. There are times when the party issues press releases. There are times when the chair is interviewed. The chair should be grounded in the principles and platform of the party and present a message that is Libertarian

"We must implement the procedures an effective party requires - fund raising"

We went from no money in 2004 to a quarter million $$ in 2010.

(I got this chart in an email from former LP Executive director Wes Benedict as a response to Tom's attacks on Pat.  It doesn't show the last four years, but you can see the trendline of increasing contributions under Pat Dixon's leadership.  Grab a blue marker and draw the blue line up to $250,000.00  Wes has shown California on the chart for other reasons, probably to illustrate that liberty-minded folks are leaving that Statist Hellhole as fast as they can.  Sorry for the digression. - Allen)

", public relations, "

We have continuous media mentions of the party and our candidates through print, online, and television

" candidate recruitment "

We set all-time records for the number of Libertarians on the ballot in Texas

"database development "

We have an IT team that supports our customer relations management (CRM) system

"Failure to support our candidates, or worse"

We have been told that we give more support to our candidates than Democrats and Republicans give to theirs. With full time staff we have provided more support than in the past. We have offered training and provided resources while giving autonomy to candidates and their campaigns. We always strive to do a better job. 

"Pandering to major donors"

We have never compromised our principles or ethics to receive financial support. There are donors we have lost when they didn't care for our principled Libertarian position.

"Flawed messaging that fails to focus .. on common goals and motivations "

Sometimes the message that Ron Paul, Libertarians, and other liberty minded people deliver is not popular. We can't always pander and compromise on our message to get votes. We look at opportunities where we can deliver a message that is timely and pertinent to an issue in a way that can be persuasive while remaining grounded in Libertarian principles

"Serious fiscal mismanagement"

We do make mistakes at times. The position of treasurer is a volunteer position and there is a great deal of responsibility. We file reports with the Texas Ethics Commission. In 2006 we endured outside threats filed through the Ethics Commission and showed that our books were in order. Last year we had 2 internal audits. No serious problems were reported, however recommendations were made on how we can improve our reporting. We established a finance committee to implement these improvements. We have demonstrated to our state committee that our reports are accurate and that we operate within a budget approved by the state committee.

"Lack of transparency"

All of our meetings are open to the public. Our minutes are public record. Our financial reports are shared with every state committee member. Our annual reports are posted every year online where everyone can see them. Our financial receipts and expenditures are disclosed through the Texas Ethics Commission. When people have questions, we do our best to respond and provide information.

"Poor management of employees and staff"

I believe our staff and state committee can state that our management provides appropriate oversight without micro-management. Some staff members have been let go for performance reasons. We have done performance appraisals. We have discussed personnel issues with the state committee.

"Fear based, as opposed to vision based, fund raising"

Being honest with our membership and donors is fundamental. We cannot trick people into giving us support. In 2006 we said that if we do not receive $48k in 2 months we will lose Wes Benedict. We were honest about it and people donated to retain him. We have also sent fund raising letters talking about the great opportunities that await us and the achievements we have made. It is all about being honest. When we told you we needed support to retain Heather Fazio, you came through. Our honest approach to fund raising has worked and that is why our financial position has been the envy of every state affiliate of the Libertarian Party

"the incumbent has provided no vision for what our party should be going forward"

Last year I authored "Leading like a Libertarian"  Every year since I became chair our state committee derives annual goals. We post the results of progress to these goals in our annual report. At every state committee meeting I present a chair's report and these have been archived. We have toured the state of Texas talking at county meetings expressing the long term vision that we started in 2004.

"extensive business and management experience, which the incumbent lacks"

My professional resume is . I have managed projects and engineers for Fortune 500 companies and small startups. My project management experience and training has helped me in the many organizations I have led, including serving as president of an arts organization, a parks service organization, my church, the Libertarian Party association of state leadership, the Travis County Libertarian Party, and Texas state chair. I have served on the Libertarian Party national committee and was twice elected to city council in Lago Vista

" or calling the police (yes, you should ask the incumbent about that)"

This incident did not involve me. One of our state committee members, Michael Hansen, volunteered to host a state committee meeting in Victoria and the state committee agreed. Michael paid to reserve a room in restaurant in downtown Victoria. The week of the meeting, Kathie Glass announced she wanted to have marketing meeting at 11:30 am on the day of the meeting. Kathie was told she could contact the restaurant and make those arrangements. On the day of the meeting, I was in a library preparing paperwork for the meeting which was to start at 1 pm. I received a phone call at approximately 11:30 from one of our committee members asking if I wanted to meet for lunch because the building was locked. I immediately wondered about Kathie's meeting but was too busy preparing to go to lunch or address the issue.

When I arrived I saw 2 police officers leaving the building elevator. I was not present when any of this occurred. The information I received was that Kathie confronted the restaurant owner and demanded to be given a room. The restaurant owner offered a different room but this was not acceptable to Kathie. At some point the police were called. I did not call the police. A dispute between Kathie, a restaurant owner, and other Libertarians had nothing to do with me. I understand some people present may have different versions of the story, but I was not a part of it.


That's what Pat Dixon had to say. 

So..... The Tom Glass letter has some glaring mis-statements at best, perhaps some mistakes, and some things that just aren't true.  How can someone say that the owner of this resume lacks business and management experience?  Pat Dixon is a freakin' professional project manager! He's an engineering consultant!  Is that statement in the letter a mistake?  A misunderstanding?  Or should Tom Glass issue a retraction before the sun goes down today? 

I've served on the State Libertarian Executive Committee with both Pat and Tom at different times.  Pat Dixon provides measurable goals for us each year, and I remember pass/fail exercises on whether we've attained them.  Pat has provided a clear vision for recruiting, fund-raising and the like.  To say that Pat has "no" vision for the party is like affirming that you sleep through the SLEC meetings.  Sheesh...

Pandering to major donors???  I believe we need some names on this one.

Our party must be more than a hobby???  Since I became Tarrant County Chair, this job has consumed me.  It's been all I can do to keep my day job covered.  I cannot image what it's like as State Chair.  (Tom called me a couple of weeks ago to ask if I'd be interested in running for Vice Chair as part of a Glass/Patterson "slate".  I declined.  Tarrant County is enough to keep me busy.)  I do know that this party is not my...."hobby".  Does anyone who receives Pat's emails, conference calls, meeting content, schedule, etc., really think that State LP Chair is Pat Dixon's "hobby", the little thing that he does when he isn't messing with his stamp collection?

Let me say this about "fear-based fundraising".  If Pat Dixon hadn't put out an all-hands-on-deck alarm for funding and allowed us to retain the incredible services of Heather Fazio, I would've lost my mind during the Precinct, County, District conventions and filing processes.  Heather is an incredible asset to the Texas LP.  Well done, sir.  Well done. 

I think Pat Dixon has made some mistakes.  I think Tom Glass has made some mistakes, some of them in this letter.  I wish we had candidates who've made no mistakes, mostly so we could build religions around them.  Pat Dixon has been pouring himself into this outfit since 1984, and has done one hell of a job.  Here's something I got the other day from LP Senate candidate John Jay Myers:
Pat is a great chair, and a long time libertarian, he has dedicated much of his life to this party, (the one) he joined in 1984.

But beyond that, he has taken Texas from a state with little or nothing going on, and brought a ton of life into this party.
Texas is the envy of every state at our national convention: our accomplishments, the number of candidates we run, our staff, and our gumption, all seem to make folks just say "wow".
They don't mess with Texas and a great deal of this is due to Pat Dixon.  Please join me in spreading the word about what appears to be an outright unfair attack against Pat, when he has been nothing but good for this party. Tom Glass' letter may sound good in form, but it is far from accurate in its account.
Well said, John Jay.  Spoken like a true Libertarian.  I could go on at this forever, but most of Pat's responses stand by themselves.  Yes, I realize that by my general tone in this post, I've violated the Ed Kless Test's rule #4 (complete and total failure to exhibit a non-anxious presence).  But then, I'm not running for office. 

This is politics, folks.  The Republicans went through this when they replaced Michael Steele with Reince Priebus.  You might remember the Democrat Party's PUMA groups (Party Unity, My Ass!), segments of the party who were upset by Obama's victory over Hillary.  I can't wait to watch the Ron Paul forces go against the Republican establishment in August. 

We Libertarians claim to be guided by a philosophy, not the prevailing winds.  Our party platform really doesn't change much.  Some of us represent it better than others. Attacks probably aren't necessary within the party, as we believe there are some absolutes in life, and these truths are knowable through reason alone

I'll close this out with one last quote from Tom's unfortunate letter:

"Guard against corruption of the LPT and our candidates"

Who should we be guarding against?  Who should we support? 
Which candidate can pass the Ed Kless test?

I believe it's Pat Dixon. 

(Here's an update for this post, written in 2014.  CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO MY ENDORSEMENT OF KATHIE GLASS FOR GOVERNOR.) 


Jeff Daiell said...

Tom Glass refused to affiliate with the LP as late as 2010. It is clear that his candidacy is not motivated by what is good for the LPT.

Jeff Daiell

CenTexTim said...

Just consider this another milestone on the road to becoming a full-fledged major political party...

Dr Ralph said...

CenTexTim - well put.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Doctor, does this remind you of another incident from several years ago?

Hot Sam said...

Such drama.

I've seen nothing but universal agreement between libertarians on a wide variety of issues, it is strange to see ruthless infighting.

He lost me forever at "going forward."

The whole concept of an LP seems bizarre to me - sort of like the Anarchist Party. You realize our Founders were opposed or at least highly suspicious of "factions" - parties as they call them today.

Parties can help reduce information costs for voters and raise money, but they can also obscure faithless members. I've always thought that libertarians would make bigger and better inroads on policy issues directly with the people or with elected representatives rather than as a third party. The only thing a third party might do is flip the election toward your least preferred candidate.

BTW, I consider Captcha a statist ploy to cause me debilitating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and eventual blindness. I shall be on the disability rolls for decades.

Rob said...

Apology for being so many months late to this dialog, but I thought I would offer another wrinkle.

Tom's letter to Allen Patterson is dated May 4, 2012. The state convention's Credentials Committee Report was published on May 22, 2012.

Glass would want delegates to believe he is a fine, upstanding citizen. Quite apart from his own letter that blows that one sky-high, the question must be asked: How does Tom know who the delegates are (see his opening sentence) when the list has yet to be published?