Obviously, you can’t have a 20-year career in politics and totally avoid mudslinging or controversy.

In 1999, when I was working with my then-wife (who has since passed away) Kay, one such ugly episode erupted, the epicenter of which was in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

We had been called down to New Mexico in late November 1999 to work on the second-half of a two-pronged strategy to achieve major party status for the Libertarian Party of New Mexico.  The first had already been accomplished by the statewide candidate whose campaign we’d managed the year before, Maurice McDonald, receiving in excess of the 5% of the vote threshhold.  The second would be a registration drive that would shore up registratioins for the LPNM to a level equal to or greater than 1/3 of 1% of the total number of voter registrations existing at any given time in the state.

Kay and I, being a veteran of multiple partisan Libertarian voter registration drives, were at the top of the list to undertake the job.

Right before Christmas 1999, after working on the drive for a couple of weeks, spontaneously a story broke in Albuquerque, supposing us of misdeeds:

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/political-consulting/quelling-controversy/enemies-engraving-falsehoods-in-stone/

Joseph Knight, Libertarian Party of New Mexico state chairman during the 1999 Libertarian voter registration drive my then-wife Karen (Kay) and I worked on, sides with the Democrats/Republicans trying to knock us off the ballot, by making me a scapegoat for his bungling of the controversy.  The Established parties initiate a controversy after a stack of 500 voter registration forms – all Libertarian – are dumped into their office just before Christmas 1999.  Although Kay and I had collected every single one of those registrations in an upfront and honest manner, our political adversaries balked because “surely there can’t be that many people willing to register Libertarian”.  And thus a smear campaign was born, accusing us of tricking people into filling out the registration, a charged which later morphed into outright forgery.  At the same time, Knight tries to defraud us by illegally refusing to accept to register any voter who fails to put his/her social security number in the optional space provided on the form, forcing me to scramble for a solution.  Faced with an array of all bad options (participating in something illegal, quitting the drive, forcing a time-wasting confrontation, etc) I made the mistake of adding social security numbers to the blank, optional spaces.  (Later, I would get called for this mistake, endure an internal party penalty, and have the matter declared closed around 2001.)

Regarding the “trickery” allegations, they never had any substance, obviously, and we were cleared by NM officials fairly early on the saga.

Here’s fellow associate Andrew Jacobs with an outline of account of the events:

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/political-consulting/quelling-controversy/a-defense-of-gary

My story of what happened in New Mexico, from Libertarian Crusader Diary, is here:

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/2008/12/26/finchers-save-the-day-in-new-mexico/

The 1999 New Mexico voter registration drive ended with our being owed $679.  Knight lobbied for us not to receive it, and so our pay got stalled for years.  However, in 2007, I wrote to newly elected LP national chairman Bill Redpath, explaining the entire New Mexico story to him, and asking him to finally pay the debt.  Redpath listened to what I had to say, consulted with some party luminaries and then settled the debt, seven years in the making.  This effectively ended my gruelling New Mexico ordeal.

Click here for that pay story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAgkuDjmtDs

My numerous references and testimonials can be found here:

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/references/

Article:  In Defense of New Mexico (by A. Jacobs):

Joseph Knight, Libertarian Party of New Mexico state chairman during the 1999 Libertarian voter registration drive my then-wife Karen (Kay) and I worked on, sides with the Democrats/Republicans trying to knock us off the ballot, by making me a scapegoat for his bungling of the controversy.  The Established parties initiate a controversy after a stack of 500 voter registration forms – all Libertarian – are dumped into their office just before Christmas 1999.  Although Kay and I had collected every single one of those registrations in an upfront and honest manner, our political adversaries balked because “surely there can’t be that many people willing to register Libertarian”.  And thus a smear campaign was born, accusing us of tricking people into filling out the registration, a charged which later morphed into outright forgery.  At the same time, Knight tries to defraud us by illegally refusing to accept to register any voter who fails to put his/her social security number in the optional space provided on the form, forcing me to scramble for a solution.  Faced with an array of all bad options (participating in something illegal, quitting the drive, forcing a time-wasting confrontation, etc) I made the mistake of adding social security numbers to the blank, optional spaces.  (Later, I would get called for this mistake, endure an internal party penalty, and have the matter declared closed around 2001.)

 

Regarding the “trickery” allegations, they never had any substance, obviously, and we were cleared by NM officials fairly early on the saga.

 

Fast forward to 2008, though, and an under-fire Sean Haugh, desperately grasping for a rationale for illegally trying to set fire to my signatures in Massachusetts, dredges up this 9-year-old controversy.

 

Writer Andy Jacobs, who knows both Voter Registration drive coordinator for 1999 Ron Bjornstad as well as me, answers Knight and Haugh:
1)  The Social Security Number box on the voter registration forms was OPTIONAL, as in it was not a mandatory field in order for one to be registered to vote.
2)  Gary is vehemently opposed to the Social Security program and refuses to ask anyone for their Social Security Number (you know,  an actual Libertarian position).
3)  Most people (around 80-90%) registering to vote fill in the Social Security Number box without questioning it,  so the overwhelming majority of the voter registrations collected by Gary did have the real Social Security Numbers on them. 

 

4)  Gary worked on Libertarian Party voter registrations in New Mexico twice.  The first time was in the spring of ’99.  During this stint Joe Knight was not involved and he only dealt with Ron Bjornstad.  He turned in registrations where around 80-90% of them had the Social Security Number box filled in by the voter and around 10-20% of them were left blank.  He got paid in full by Mr. Bjornstad, there was no controversy and the registrations counted. 
5)  Gary was invited back to New Mexico in November of ’99 to get more Libertarian voter registrations, but this time Joe Knight was involved.   Two weeks after Gary was working in New Mexico,  Joe Knight came up with a new rule where he said that he was going to dock Gary’s pay by not paying him for any voter registration that did not have the OPTIONAL Social Security Number box filled in.  If Joe Knight had been up front with Gary and told him that he was going to issue this command BEFORE he travelled across the country to get to New Mexico Gary would have TURNED DOWN the job because he does not believe in asking anyone for a Social(ist) (In)Security Number. 
6)  Scott Kohlhaas worked on the same Libertarian Party voter registration during this same time period but he was in Las Cruces (Gary was in Albuquerque,  and Joe Knight was in Farmington which is around 180 miles away from Albuquerque).  It later came out that Joe Knight NEVER put the demand on Scott Kohlhaas that all registrations must have the optional Social Security Number box filled in or that he would get his pay docked.  Scott Kohlhaas was paid in full and on time for all registrations whether they had the Social Security Number box filled in or not.  If it was so damn important to have the OPTIONAL Social Security Number box filled in on all registrations,  then why did Joe Knight only put this command on Gary and not on Scott Kohlhaas?  Joe Knight has been dodging this question for years. 
7)  As I said above, around 80-90% of the people registering to vote filled in the optional Social Security Number box without questioning it.  The remaining 10-20% either refused to give the Social Security Number or they asked Gary whether or not it was mandatory.  If they asked,  Gary told them that it was not legally required so it was up to them whether or not they wanted to fill in that box. 
8)  After Joe Knight arbitrarily said that he was going to dock Gary’s pay for any registrations that lacked a Social Security Number on them – EVEN THOUGH THAT BOX WAS OPTIONAL – Gary panicked because this meant that he was going to lose 10-20% of his pay for a reason that was not legitimate.  Now keep in mind that he turned down other work to go to New Mexico, and keep in mind that the command about making the OPTIONAL Social Security box mandatory for payment was sprung on him two weeks after he had already been working.   Gary had already found out that Joe Knight is a hothead and unreasonable,  so in a state of panic he filled in random numbers on the 10-20% of the voter registration cards that lacked them.
9)  Since the Social Security Number box was OPTIONAL, this was NOT a crime.  In fact, the nation’s leading ballot access expert Richard Winger said that the New Mexico Election Office processed and accepted the voter registration cards,  including the ones with the random numbers in the OPTIONAL Social Security Number box. 
10)  After it came out that some (10-20%) of the voter registration cards had random numbers filled in the OPTIONAL Social Security Number box,  Gary confessed what he had done and why he had done it to then-LP national Executive Director Steve Dasbach and then-LP national Political Director Ron Crickenberger.  Steve Dasbach said that he did not think that Gary had done anything else wrong but that filling in random numbers in the Social Security Number box was a stupid public relations move and was not how he should have handled the situation (which I agree with as does Gary now).   So Steve Dasbach put Gary on a probation period with LP National.   Gary worked with a couple of LP state affilates and then after his probation was up Steve Dasbach REINSTATED him with LP National.  I have spoken to Steve Dasbach about this and he said that it is ridiculous to keep bringing up New Mexico and trying to use it as a pretext to prevent Gary from working. 
11)  Ron Crickenberger happened to have a trip planned to speak at the 2000 New Mexico LP Convention and while he was there he went to the Election Office and personally examined the voter registrations that Gary collected and the ONLY thing that he found “wrong” with them was that around 10-20% of them had the random numbers in the optional Social Security Number box (which, according to ballot access expert Richard Winger, did NOT disqualify them). 
12)  The “tricking voters” charge is completely bogus.  Ron Bjornstad and Mike Blessing of the New Mexico LP went out and spied on the Finchers (Gary and his late wife Kay) while they were working on separate occasions and neither of them think that he did anything wrong.  In addition to spying on them,  Ron Bjornstad also worked with them for a little while collecting registrations.  Mike Blessing said that he witnessed a person who was registering ask Gary if he registered Libertarian could he still vote in the Republican Primaries, to which Gary told him, “No,  but that if they manage to get major party status for the Libertarian Party that he’d be able to vote in the Libertarian Party’s Primary”, and that person reacted to that notification by tearing up the voter registration. 
13)  Gary turned his registration cards in to Ron Bjornstad who let them pile up for a few turn ins before he turned them in to the Bernalillo County (where Albuquerque is) Election Office.  When he turned a bunch in at once it made the election officials paranoid because they never had received that many Libertarian Party voter registrations at once. 
14)  The Bernalillo County Elections Office sent out an investigator named Robert Lucero to pose as a potential registrant in order to see if the Finchers were doing anything fraudulent.  Mr. Lucero’s report back to the Bernalillo County Elections Office said that the Finchers were too pushy about registering Libertarian.  Mr. Lucero acted like he wanted to register, but said that he wanted to register Republican, to which the Finchers responded by telling him that they were only registering Libertarians and that if he wanted to register Republican he’d have to go elsewhere and get his own registration form.  This report from Mr. Lucero COMPLETELY CONTRADICTED the “tricking voters” charge and further vindicated the Finchers.
15)  The Finchers used to make videos documenting their travels around the country and they happened to make a video of themselves working in New Mexico.  Gary posted it to YouTube in response to Knight spreading lies about him years after this incident should have been put to rest.  Here’s a link to the video. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdIdgHvILOc   
16)  Unlike Ron Bjornstad and Mike Blessing of the New Mexico LP,  and unlike Robert Lucero of the Bernalillo County Election Office,  Knight was NEVER there.  Mr. Knight was in Farmington the entire time and just went by second or third hand information.  The people who actually SAW the Finchers work said that they did nothing wrong. 
17)  As I mentioned earlier,  Scott Kohlhaas worked on the same Libertarian Party voter registration drive during this same time period in Las Cruces.  There were also “tricking voters” charges leveled against scott Kohlhaas, yet Joe Knight CONVENIENTLY neglects to mention this.  For years Knight has dodged questions about why there was a double standard with the way he treated the Finchers and the way that he treated Scott Kohlhaas.  Remember, Knight NEVER put the command to have the optional Social Security Number box filled in on all registrations or be docked onto Scott Kohlhaas.  Scott Kohlhaas was able to get paid in full and on time on all registrations, and he ADMITTED that he turned in registrations where the Social Security Number box was left blank.   Kohlhaas has the same “tricking voters” charge leveled at him that was made against the Finchers,  yet Knight “looked the other way” when it came to Scott Kohlhaas.  Joe Knight has NEVER answered the question of why he had this double standard. 
18)  After the Election Officials made a stink about the number of new Libertarian registrations that came in with the thinking “nobody would want to register Libertarian on purpose” the story got put out that their “must have” been “trickery” that occurred.  So the story went out in the local media that the Libertarian Party “tricked” people into registering Libertarian and then some people complained.  The Finchers OFFERED to go the the media to give their side of the story,  but Knight ACTUALLY TOLD THEM NOT TO SPEAK TO THE MEDIA.  Now why did Knight tell them to not speak to the media?  This is yet another question that Knight has been dodging for years. 
19)  Knight knew some guy who was a private investigator,  and he used Libertarian Party money to hire this guy to further investigate the Finchers.  The investigator’s “investigation” consisted entirely of his going to the Bernalillo County Elections Office, grabbing a stack of around 15 voter registrations that the Finchers had collected and contacting the people who filled them out.  Ron Bjornstad said that the voter registrations that Knight’s investigator got were ones that had been pulled that were from people who had already complained after the negative news reports and were NOT a fair representation of the total number of registrations that the Finchers collected.  Out of the people that Joe Knight’s investigator interviewed, one of them happened to be Robert Lucero of the Bernalillo County Elections Office.  Mr. Lucero was the only one who could not be “led” by asking questions like,  “You didn’t mean to register Libertarian,  did you?” and Mr. Lucero said that the Finchers were too pushy about registering Libertarian if anything,  thus shooting down the “tricking voters” charge! 
20)  There was no evidence that the Finchers had broken any laws so no charges were ever pressed against the Finchers.  Now if the Finchers had REALLY done something wrong,  is anyone out there naive enough to think that the New Mexico Election Officials would not have pressed charges against them?  Don’t you think that they would have LOVED to have prosecuted Libertarians for voter registration fraud if they could have?  The reason that they did not do this is because they KNEW that no crimes had been committed, so there was no case.  The Finchers were CLEARED by the New Mexico Election Officials.
21)  The ONLY legal problem that the Finchers had in New Mexico happened a year before this (1998) when they got arrested at a polling place for entering the polling place to vote while Gary was wearing a Libertarian Party t-shirt and Kay was wearing a Libertarian Party jacket.  The Finchers had been in New Mexico for several months working as campaign managers for Maurice McDonald who was running for Land Commissioner.  Since they were there for several months they registered to vote (and interestingly enough,  they both left the Social Security Number box on their voter registration forms blank,  yet both of their forms were accepted) with the intention of voting in the November election.  While they were standing in line at the polling place the poll workers saw that Gary was wearing a Libertarian Party t-shirt and Kay was wearing a Libertarian Party jacket.  They accused them of “electioneering” and told them that they had to take off or cover up the Libertarian Party clothing or leave the polling place.  Gary and Kay thought that the command was ridiculous and objected.  Kay ended up covering up the Libertarian Party label on her jacket but Gary refused to remove his Libertarian Party t-shirt.  Gary contended that wearing a Libertarian Party t-shirt did not constitute electioneering and that there were cars in the parking lot that were less than 100 feet from the polling place that had political bumper stickers on them and that nobody said anything about that.  Then two cops popped up and grabbed Gary and Kay from behind and put handcuffs on them and then removed them from the polling place and took them to jail.  They ended up getting released from jail, but by the time they got released it was past time to vote in the election.  When news of their arrest for wearing Libertarian Party clothing at a polling place came out many in the Libertarian community were supportive, including such well known Libertarians as Richard Winger, Mary Ruwart and Ron Paul (all of whom donated money to the Finchers legal defense fund).  There was even a supportive article in Hobbs Sun about the Finchers arrest for wearing Libertarian Party clothing at a polling place.  This is the ONLY legal trouble that the Finchers had in New Mexico, and anyone who considers this to be a crime is NOT a libertarian.    
22)  Gary had eye surgery scheduled in Indiana in the early part of January, so the Finchers had to leave by this date.  Knight KNEW this before they had even arrived in New Mexico in November,  and this had been repeated to him while they were there.  However, after they left for Gary to have eye surgery in Indiana, Knight mischaracterized this as their having run out of the state so that they did not have to face the charges that were against them.  THIS WAS A FLAT OUT LIE!  They offered to go to the media to give their side of the story and Knight told them not to do it.  After they left the state for the eye surgery Knight criticized them for having left and not talked to the media!   Knight would have you think that Gary ran away from New Mexico to escape prosecution but nothing is further from the truth.  The fact of the matter is that Gary has been to New Mexico countless times since then.  He’s even been pulled over for routine traffic stops there, and has had a make ran on him, with no warrants ever coming up.  I know that Gary stopped in New Mexico last year and had dinner with Ron Bjornstad of the New Mexico LP.
23)  Because Knight threw a temper tantrum, the Finchers did not get paid the final payment which they were owed which came out to $679.  Gary lobbied to get the money that of which he believed he had been defrauded.  In early 2007 Gary wrote a letter to current LP national chairman Bill Redpath explaining what did and did not happen in New Mexico.  Bill Redpath then consulted with ballot access expert Richard Winger (who had been aware of what happened in New Mexico) and Winger told Bill that he should pay Gary.  Then Bill decided to pay Gary the $679 (although keep in mind that this did not include any interest for the payment being late).  Since Knight’s temper tantrum was the reason his pay got held up and since Knight had been trash-talking and lying about him for years,  Gary decided that he wanted to let Knight know that he finally got paid the rest of his earnings in New Mexico so he posted a video of himself about to cash the check on YouTube.  Here’s the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAgkuDjmtDs&feature=related   
24)  Gary first found out about the Libertarian Party in 1988 due to the Ron Paul for president campaign.  He voted for Ron Paul for president in 1988 and then officially joined the Libertarian Party in 1990.  During his first year in the party he became a candidate and ran for a seat in the state legislature in Maine.  In 1991 Gary reponded to an ad in LP News that said that the Libertarian Party needed to hire people to do ballot access petitioning.  He responded to the ad and started working as a petitioner.   He worked on numerous Libertarian Party petition drives and has also worked on a bunch of other stuff, including numerous ballot initiative campaigns.  He has worked in 38 states plus Washington DC, and many of these states he has worked multiple times.  There are numerous petition proponents and coordinators around the country who want his services.  Gary has worked on Libertarian Party ballot access in 22 states and is quite possibly the top producing Libertarian Party petitioner since 1991. Gary can produce a very long list of references to back up his claims. If he were really this horrible criminal that Knight is making him out to be then why does he have such a stellar track record around the country?  Why aren’t there people in other states accusing him of fraud?  Why were NO CHARGES pressed against him by the New Mexico Election Office?  Why is it that he worked on voter registration drives in Maine, Arizona,  California,  and Alaska with no problems?  I have worked with Gary several times and I even hired him a few times.  And I can tell you that he NEVER did fraudulent work.   The fact of the matter is that Gary has been the victim of a smear campaign by a few deranged individuals who don’t have anything better to do with their time than spread lies and trash talk people.  Good riddance, Mr. Knight.   The Libertarian Party is better off with Gary Fincher than it is with you.

Enemies Engraving Falsehoods in Stone:

Dec 30, 1999 Albuquerque Journal

Vindication:  Former Accusers Finally Exposed As Hypocrites

Former Accusers Finally Exposed as Hypocrites

Longtime readers of Libertarian Crusader Diary are well aware of my/our story of New Mexico that dates back to the final year of the 90s.  That was when my wife (since deceased) were given grief over a Libertarian Party statewide campaign and subsequent voter registration drive for major party status that actually should have seen us treated as heroes, by all rights.  And make no mistake about it – we had plenty of supporters who appreciated our work on that drive, championed our work and hailed us as tireless warriors for liberty’s inclusion into voting in New Mexico.  There was even a pro-Fincher editorial in the Hobbs Sun, written by Terry Sholin, that echoed these sentiments.  We definitely appreciated those who stood by us, as I still appreciate it.

However, there was enough grief given us to last a lifetime – by the NM state officials, by turncoats in our own Libertarian Party, and by scattered malcontents out in the public (Albuquerque TV stations falsely reported as “fact” that we engaged in wrongdoing, and we got smeared in the Albuquerque Journal for days).

Our own national party political director at the time, Ron Crickenberger, blacklisted us for a period of time.  But I’ll get back to that one in a moment…

Among our most vocal critics was Denise Lamb, who at the time served under NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron as her chief at the Bureau of Elections.   Denise Lamb sat back and allowed Santa Fe County to get by with disenfranchising my wife and I as voters, manifest in being yanked out of a voting line in Santa Fe in handcuffs – all because we planned to vote for a minor party when we moved up in line to reach the ballot box.  Rather than try to ameliorate the travesty of not being allowed to vote, or even attempt to referee or search for a consolation, Lamb arrogantly declared that Santa Fe County was justified (and this was prior to our trial!) in handcuffing & arresting us, and injuring my wife in the process, and proclaimed that “the fact remains” that we were “guilty” (of trying to vote!).  Apparently, Ms. Lamb never believed in the principle of “innocent till proven guilty”, as she just went ahead and decreed our guilt.  A year later, Lamb tried to contend that we were engaging in acts that disenfranchised NM voters (yeah – since when does she care about voting enfranchisement?), accusations that were patently false.  Not only were they patently false, but had the allegations been even in the ballpark of true, we would have been charged with something, most assuredly, yet we never were.  Lamb knew darn well there was nothing there for a case, and it was simply politics at play.  See full story here:  https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/political-consulting/quelling-controversy/

Now, it’s Lamb’s turn on the hot seat.  And it’s all I can do to contain my glee.

In August 2009, Rebecca Vigil-Giron’s administration came under fire by prosecutors and she and several others under her were actually issued indictments for fraud, embezzlement, conspiracy and tampering with evidence.  Sounds like someone qualified to level allegations at thy neighbor to me, how about you?

NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron 

Read about indictments here:  http://newmexicoindependent.com/34404/vigil-giron-targeted-in-probe-of-voter-education-funds

I somehow knew that Lamb and that entire New Mexico Secretary of State’s office was corrupt to the core, and this underscores it.  Perhaps it was even worse than even I’d thought.  Obviously, they had no business criticizing Kay and me, with what they had their hands into and was being hush about.

The moral of the story:  only those who are bona fide criminals will stand and falsely accuse someone else of being a criminal.

And that brings me back to the other hypocrite – the one not working for the State, but for the national Libertarian Party.  Ron Crickenberger, then political director of the national Libertarian Party, curiously sided with the NM Secretary of State in our little war, and as a result was blacklisting Kay and me from any Libertarian Party contract work throughout 2000 and 2001.

So what do we think of Mr. Crickenberger when it came to light recently that he was caught red-handed by an eyewitness in Phoenix, Arizona, in August 2000, falsely attesting on affidavits that he circulated Independent nominating petitions for Harry Browne for president that he, in fact, did not circulate (a crime in Arizona)?  Now, Mr. Crickenberger has since passed away, and there are those who might say that he isn’t here to defend himself.  However, let’s not forget that my wife preceded Mr. Crickenberger in death and no such courtesy was given her by him.  And moreover, the eyewitness account is solid, so he’d really have no way to defend what he was caught doing red-handed.

It just gives me personal satisfaction to know that a couple of people who were vocal in leveling accusations against me were actually the ones participating in wrongdoing.

More Vindication:

Video footage of my late wife and I registering voters in NM:

http://youtu.be/OdIdgHvILOc

The national Libertarian Party vindicates me (and my wife posthumously 7 years after the controversy):

http://youtu.be/DAgkuDjmtDs

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