October 3rd, 2007 By Jonah Sandford | News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Sweeping Changes For Oregon Libertarian Party

     
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Richard Burke

There are big changes afoot for the Libertarian Party of Oregon.
First, state chair Don Smith resigned at a Sept. 29 meeting, citing “the demands of a new job.” Then, on Monday, Richard Burke (pictured above), the party's executive director for the last six years, also stepped down.
The changes cap a chaotic year for the party.
Smith's replacement, former Libertarian Party of Clackamas County vice-chair Wes Wagner, has sued the state party twice over the last year (using the courts to settle grievances = not very Libertarian).
Wagner's claims included allegations that party bylaws had been ignored and that Burke himself had manipulated campaign finance reports. Both suits were dismissed.
But the infighting among party members seemed to take its toll. Among the signs: the state party now has $27,000 worth of debt and it's moving from its office in downtown Beaverton to a much smaller office on Southwest Barbur Boulevard.
Richard Burke ran for governor on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1998, coming in third with 2 percent of the vote. During his time as Executive Director he fought to keep the party relevant in Oregon politics, and was seen by many as a force adding legitimacy to the LPO. Since 2001, the party has worked to defeat two tax increases, as well as to oppose efforts by the city of Portland to acquire Portland General Electric.
“The sands of politics are always shifting,” said Burke in a press release. “The LPO is starting over and taking a new direction. Time will tell if it is the correct one, but I can't complain; we've had a good run.”
 
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