The PJ Tatler

Libertarian Party Leader Calls Allegation That Va. Candidate Was a Dem Plant an 'Outright Lie'

The Libertarian Party’s national director fought back this afternoon against allegations that Robert Sarvis was a Democratic plant intended to help Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race.

“I realize that, no matter what I say, paranoid right-wingers will think I’m a sneaky operative trying to help Democrats beat Republicans. This message is for the rational people out there,” Libertarian National Committee Executive Director Wes Benedict said in a statement.

The statement included links to stories in right-of-center outlets that pointed to a bundler for President Obama helping pay for the petition circulators that got Sarvis enough signatures to get on the Virginia ballot.

The expenditure was financed by the Libertarian Booster PAC, founded by Benedict in 2011.

“In 2012, the PAC focused solely on non-federal races in Texas. With satisfactory accomplishments, and no partisan election happening in Texas in 2013, I looked to expand to other states where permitted by law. Virginia was one of two states with a gubernatorial election in 2013 plus state legislative elections, so it was an obvious choice,” he continued.

“Back at the end of 2008, a man contacted me expressing interest in the Libertarian Party. It turned out he was a successful high-tech entrepreneur. One of his comments was along the lines of, ‘What could the Libertarian Party do if it had a million dollars?’ Naturally, I contact this man whenever I think I have a good idea that needs funding.”

He seemed to be alluding to Austin-based software billionaire and Obama bundler Joe Liemandt.

“I’ve raised $300,000 from this donor for the Libertarian Booster PAC. He has provided very little in the way of instruction or advice regarding use of the money. The one strong suggestion he made was that we should try to build the Libertarian Party by recruiting Hispanics. He thought Democrats were taking Hispanics for granted, and Republicans were often hostile, and perhaps a massive wave of Hispanics could be convinced to join the Libertarian Party since we have a pro-immigration platform,” Benedict continued, adding that the suggestion influenced the inclusion of a “Liberty for Latinos” plank in Texas.

“Most political experts would probably say that recruiting Hispanics into the Libertarian Party would hurt Democrats rather than Republicans, since Hispanics lean more Democratic than Republican. So I’m skeptical that this donor is trying to use me to hurt Republicans,” the director said. “It was my idea, and my decision, to have the Libertarian Booster PAC help recruit Libertarian Party candidates in 2013 in Virginia.”

Benedict called Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that an Obama bundler “bought and paid for” a “fake Libertarian candidate” an “outright lie,” and called on Limbaugh to “retract his claim.”

“My strategies and tactics have never been secret. They are common strategies in the Libertarian Party, and they are the same strategies promoted at the founding of the Libertarian Party. I try to publicize them any way I can. I’ve even written a book about them and included a chapter about PACs,” said Benedict. “I want Libertarians to win elections. But I also want them to run for office even when they’re unlikely to win. Why? To get the public to discuss and consider libertarian principles. Our liberties will not be secure until Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians are all fighting over the best ways to implement libertarian principles.”

“If I wanted to hurt the Republican in Virginia, I would have supported a right-wing candidate who sounded like a Tea Partier — who only talked about cutting welfare, Obamacare, and how bad Democrats are. I would never have helped someone like Robert Sarvis, who talked a lot about social issues that appeal to liberal voters. As it turned out, polls show that if Sarvis weren’t in the race, McAuliffe would probably have won by a slightly bigger margin.”

The party earlier touted their third-best showing in any governor’s race. McAuliffe had 47.7 percent of the vote to Ken Cuccinelli at 45.2 percent. Sarvis, a software developer and attorney, pulled in 6.52 percent.

“My hope with the Robert Sarvis campaign was for the election to be close between the Democrat and Republican, with the Libertarian getting more votes than in previous elections, and lots of press to follow. Imagine my excitement when the results came in with Sarvis getting 6.5 percent (eight times the previous record in Virginia for a Libertarian for governor), and a narrow spread between the Republican and Democrat,” Benedict added. “With Robert Sarvis’s outstanding campaign for governor, mission accomplished.”