2017 Libbys Awarded at the March 10 2018 Michigan Libertarian Summit
This event featured Rep. Laura Ebke as speaker, Spokesperson for Liberty Award winner Keith Wood, and Producer of Liberty Award winner Loel Gnadt. Articles on all three are re-posted on this page.
State Senator Laura Ebke Offers Practical Real-World Advice
By Bill Hall, Chair
The Michigan Libertarian Summit on March 10 offered practical real-world advice from Libertarian State Senator Laura Ebke of Nebraska. She joined our own Hazel Park City Councilman Andy LeCureaux in a morning round-table discussion of Libertarian elected officials. She also delivered the keynote speech at the LibertyFest banquet.
In June, 2016, Laura Ebke left the Republican Party to become a Libertarian. At the time, she told the Omaha World-Herald “I got frustrated with some of my colleagues who don’t recognize civil liberties and don’t seem to agree with getting government out of people’s business.” Since then, she has continued as an important member of Nebraska’s unicameral “nonpartisan” legislature, serving as chair of its Judiciary Committee. This year she is running for re-election.
In the course of the day, Senator Ebke had several things to say worth noting by Libertarians who want to get elected and then serve in public office. Here are a few important takeaways I got from her time with us.
- Get known in your community. Senator Ebke represents a district where her family has lived for generations, and she has spent most of her life. She recommends serving in community organizations and on appointed committees, to demonstrate your commitment to service and the community and gain experience. She got her political start as a member of the local school board.
- Look for a political opening. Senator Ebke decided to run for state senate when an incumbent was term-limited out, so the seat was open and the race would be more competitive. She sought family and community support and advice before announcing her decision to run.
- A winning campaign is hard work. You can’t stint on door-knocking, direct mail or yard signs. You need lots of volunteers, or lots of money to use in lieu of volunteers. She estimated her re-election campaign will cost as much as $200,000, for a part-time (a 60-day session in even years and 90-day session in odd years) position that pays $12,000 a year.
- Campaign early and often. Senator Ebke started her door-to-door campaign last fall, for her primary election coming up in May. She’s already held several campaign events in her district, and seeks out opportunities for regular public and media appearances.
- Choose your battles. Senator Ebke has been effective in getting bills passed into law, by concentrating on those pro-freedom bills where she can build coalitions with others. She is optimistic that her licensing deregulation bill will soon pass, as it was reported out of committee, and passed the legislature on its first reading.
- There is a quid pro quo among legislators. If you ask another legislator to support your bill, they will ask for support in return. Sometimes you think their bill is a good idea, and you want to support it. Often what is important to another legislator is something that is not a big deal to you, so you can readily agree to vote for their bill. Sometimes you may agree to vote to support another legislator on a procedural motion (even if you don’t like their bill), because you know that once their bill gets before the full legislature, it just isn’t going to pass, and you can vote against it.
For those attending the Libertarian Party National Convention in New Orleans on July 1-3, don’t miss the opportunity to meet Senator Laura Ebke.
A video of Senator Ebke’s speech has been posted here.
Convicted Jury-Nullification Advocate, Wood, Receives Award
For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Defender of Liberty Award Spokesperson Scotty Boman, (313) 247-2052, or Libertarian Party of Michigan Chair Bill Hall, (616) 460-9516
Bath, Michigan – Keith Wood, a Michigan businessman who was convicted of “jury tampering” for handing out pamphlets on a public sidewalk, was presented with the “Spokesperson for Liberty Award” by the Libertarian Party of Michigan on Saturday night.
The Defender of Liberty Award Banquet (AKA “LibbyFest”) was held March 10th at theEagle Eye Banquet Center, Bath, Michigan. The “Spokesperson for Liberty Award” is one of three “Defender of Liberty Awards” that may be presented annually. It goes to a member of the community whose patriotism and conviction have inspired contributions to the cause of liberty.
Wood’s case remains in the appeal process. He was initially arrested in 2015 after distributing a pamphlet entitled, “Jury Rights: True or False?” from the sidewalk in front of the Mecosta County courthouse in Big Rapids. The pamphlet described the important American legal tradition that juries may choose not to convict a person for violating a law the jury decides is unjust. In 2017 Wood was sentenced by a Mecosta County judge to eight weekends in jail, six months’ probation, 120 hours of community service, and $545.00 in fines, for jury tampering.
After receiving the award, Wood commented “Earlier in my life I felt powerless; not being able to effect change or make a difference. Then I learned of jury nullification and became excited about the power one juror has to make a difference in another’s life. An individual can make a difference, and I wanted to make sure others realized they could make a difference too.”
While presenting the award, nominator Scotty Boman said, “He was simply exercising his right to free expression… he was convicted of tampering with a jury that didn’t even exist!”
Keith Wood was initially charged with jury tampering and obstruction of justice because prosecutors claimed that he was trying to influence potential jurors before they heard a case against Andy Yoder, an Amish man who was accused of draining a wetland that was on his property. Yoder’s case never went to trial and Wood said he didn’t know Yoder. Rather, he said he just wanted to inform potential jurors that they had the right to vote their conscience over the law.
The obstruction charges were dropped last March and Wood was tried by a jury of six in June. The jury found him guilty of jury tampering. This, after the judge barred the defense from mentioning the fact that no jury trials were scheduled, and thus no jurors were under oath the day Wood passed fliers out.
The case was appealed, but on February 2nd of this year, in Mecosta County, Isabella County District Judge Eric Janes upheld the conviction.
The other Defender of Liberty Award went to Loel Gnadt, who received the Producer of Liberty Award, which goes to a dedicated, behind-the-scenes Libertarian whose quiet labors over the years exemplifies the backbone of the Libertarian Party.
Loel Gnadt Wins Producer of Liberty Award
By Political Director Greg Stempfle and Editor Scotty Boman
Congratulations to Loel Gnadt for wining this year’s Libertarian Party of Michigan Producer of Liberty Award. This award goes to “a dedicated, behind-the-scenes Libertarian whose quiet labors over the years exemplifies the backbone of the LP”.
Loel has been a Libertarian candidate ten times going back to 1996. He has run for Congress (2014), State Senate twice (2010, 2006), State House four times (2016, 2012, 1996) including a special election in 1996, and three times for Wayne County Commissioner (1998, 2000, 2002).
Throughout this time, he was one of the most dedicated and constant activists in the LP of Wayne County, if not the entire state, and always stepped up to take on the behind the scenes responsibilities that come with being a leader in an affiliate. He has served many roles in the LPWC over the years including Chair and currently a member-at-large.
There have been no gaps or any hiatus in Loel’s involvement. He has been a loyal, unwavering libertarian, volunteering for a variety of outreach activities including our outreach table at the annual Dally in the Alley street fair which has thousands of visitors each year. Loel has been a strong anti-tax activist serving on the Wayne County Taxpayer Association board from 1998-2006. When Jon Coon ran for State Representative down-river in 1996, Loel allowed his basement to become our phone bank, before we equipped the campaign office in a similar way, From there we did polling and made GOTV calls. On a daily basis people were walking through his living room to commute between the front door and the basement.
If the Producer of Liberty award definition is, “a dedicated, behind-the-scenes Libertarian whose quiet labors over the years exemplifies the backbone of the LP”, then Loel Gnadt is one of our vertebrae and deserves this honor.