The purpose of this document is to provide a basic understanding of the party structure and how to start an affiliate party.
Purpose of the Libertarian Party of Kentucky
The Libertarian Party of Kentucky is the official state affiliate of the National Libertarian Party. The purpose of the Libertarian Party of Kentucky is to grow the libertarian movement in Kentucky through electoral politics. Affiliate parties exist to assist the State Party in accomplishing this task.
Understanding Party Structure
The State Party is the core of the organization. All members in Kentucky belong to the State Party. It is the party recognized by the National Libertarian Party as the official state affiliate. The Libertarian Party of Kentucky charters affiliates at multiple levels, creating a hierarchy for the purposes of organization. This general hierarchy is shown on the right. The premise of this hierarchy is to promote local action.
- A District Party is chartered by the State Party. These organizations align to the defined US Congressional Districts in Kentucky.
- A County Party is chartered by the District Party under which it will exist. If a county is split into multiple Congressional Districts, that county shall be under the jurisdiction of the District Party who has the majority of the population in that county.
- The Chair of each affiliate party also is a member of the Executive Committee of the party that chartered the affiliate.
Note: Jefferson County has an entire US Congressional District inside of its boundaries. The Third District Party (Louisville Metro) cannot affiliate a redundant County Party. It can, however, affiliate Metro Parties which function as a County Party.
The true power in the party exists at the lower levels. Annual Dues and miscellaneous donations get split in a way that pushes most of the dues to the County party. As of March 2019, annual dues are $35. The breakdown is as follows, with the example of how dues are distributed:
- Subtract fees first (eg. $35 – $1.20 = $33.80)
- 1/6 to State Party ($5.63)
- 1/3 to District Party ($11.26)
- 1/2 to County Party ($16.90)
The upper levels of the party exist in order to facilitate the growth of the lower levels, to assist with issues or campaigns that cross between other affiliated parties, and to act as a check-and-balance against an affiliated party going out of control. An affiliating party has the ability to dissolve the chartered party when necessary.
Current Party Structure
As of August 15th, 2019, the party is currently structured as follows:
- State Party – Affiliate of LP National
- 1st District Party
- Graves County Party – Affiliate of the 1st District
- 2nd District Party
- Barren County Party – Affiliate of the 2nd District
- Bullitt County Party – Affiliate of the 2nd District
- Hardin County Party – Affiliate of the 2nd District
- Warren County Party – Affiliate of the 2nd District
- 3rd District Party (Incorporates all of Jefferson County)
- 4th District Party
- 5th District Coordinator – vacant
- 6th District Coordinator – vacant
- 1st District Party
Starting a new Affiliate Party
Phase One: Party Coordinator
A Coordinator can be appointed by a Committee when there is no Affiliate Party in existence. The Coordinator helps organize in that area, and helps keep the would-be Chartering Party abreast of any issues coming up in that area. The role of Coordinator is to assist in the creation of an Affiliate Party. The role is not all that time consuming, and is fairly easy. To be a Coordinator, you must be willing to do the following:
- Be the primary contact for the Party in the area covered
- Respond to inquiries about getting active in the party
- Work (at your pace) to form an Affiliate Party
A County Coordinator can be appointed by an Executive Committee of a District Party. Your District Party is usually whatever your US Congressional District is. (If a county is split between Congressional Districts, the county will be affiliated with the District Party under which most people live in the county.
Tips and Tricks
Being a coordinator is 50% about just being there. Having boots on the ground helps the Party know what’s going on, and lets the public know that we’re there.
The other 50% is being a contact and helping organize a County Party. There are some easy ways to do that.
- Advertising in the local paper.
- Sometimes, we can even get “Earned Media” (aka, not “Paid Media”) by simply putting out a press release that a County Coordinator has been named.
- Press releases are relatively simplistic, and if you get an article in the paper for it, you’ve just earned your first Earned Media!
- Setting up a local event
- Often, just creating an informal, social gathering of liberty-minded folks in the county is the way to get started.
- Make sure it’s a well-lit place and that it’s not overcome with cigarette smoke (comfortable).
- Libertarians often like to meet in places that are a Bar and Grill.
- Preferably a small business owner.
- Make sure it’s not a dive bar.
- Make sure at least some food is available.
- Meet some of the local small business owners first — you might get a convert and set up your meetings there.
- The first few meetings should be very informal. Quick introductions are okay. Be sure to thank everyone (as a group) for coming.
- The best meeting spaces have a way to segregate the meeting into a separate room, area, or other place that can be separate and away from noisy interruptions.
- Be sure to let leadership know you’re setting up the event. We’ll help you promote it!
- Become a point of contact
- You should be able to get a Google Voice, or other similar service, to forward to a cell or home phone, but allow you to set up a separate message box.
- Advertise your new phone number
- Reach out to others
- We’re making an effort to contact any people who have registered to vote as a Libertarian
- We also have contacts of people who are on our mailing list or have signed up at LP National.
Becoming a Coordinator
To become a County Coordinator, it’s pretty easy. You just need to apply!
- Find out which District you fall under — Find your county alignment here: https://lpky.org/about/affiliates/
- Contact your District Party Chair, and ask to be considered for Coordinator — The contact can be made from here: https://lpky.org/about/affiliates/
- Please include a bit about yourself (background, etc) in the e-mail.
That’s it! It’s really easy. We’re excited that you’re interested in becoming a Coordinator in Kentucky’s fastest-growing party!
Phase Two: Forming Your New Affiliate Party
Executive Committee Structure
All affiliate Parties in the Libertarian Party of Kentucky have a similar structure. The Executive Committee is made up of the Officers of the Party, at least one At-Large Representative, and the Chairs of any affiliated Parties.
The officers of any party are:
- Chair – Responsible for general organization of the Party, calling meetings and prepare the agenda for those meetings, and be the face of the Party.
- Vice Chair – Responsible for assisting the Chair, and perform the duties of the Secretary when the Secretary is not available.
- Secretary – Maintaining all records of the party. Act as the Vice-Chair when the Vice-Chair is not available.
- Treasurer – Maintain and report financial records for the Party, submit annual reports to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF). Treasurers are very important. Learn more about treasurer here.
A party must have a Chair, Treasurer, and either a Vice-Chair or Secretary, at a minimum. Vacancies can exist in all other positions on the committee.
At-Large Representatives exist in order to grow the party in some way. A Party must have at least one, but not more than 4, At-Large Representatives. This number cannot be changed more than once per year, and must be changed in convention.
The Chair of any affiliated party also sits as a voting member of the Executive Committee of the party that chartered it, to represent the needs of their affiliate on that committee.
Qualifications to serve on an Executive Committee
In order to serve on an Executive Committee in the Party, at any level, you must:
- Be a full voting member of the LPKY.
- Be a legal resident in the state of Kentucky.
- Registered to vote as a Libertarian (some exceptions apply).
- Not otherwise be serving on another committee within the LPKY hierarchy (except Chairmen, who serve on the chartering committee as the representative of their organization).
Leave of absence, resignation, and recall
A member of a committee can be recalled by the means defined in the Constitution of the Libertarian Party of Kentucky. A member of a committee can take a leave of absence with proper notification. Members can be automatically recalled from office if they fail to be active for 60 days without proper notice of a leave of absence, or if they become ineligible to serve due to a change in complying with the pre-existing qualifications to serve.
Background on Organizational Meetings
Two meetings should be held, prior to the official application to be affiliated by the chartering party. Each meeting needs to be coordinated with the chartering party, so that the chartering party can properly notify members of the organizational efforts within the area seeking affiliation. Don’t be discouraged if only a few people show up to these meetings. Often, people want to see that the group is serious before investing in that group.
The First Meeting – Testing the waters
The first meeting is a general meeting to determine who is interested in taking a leadership role, to explain the leadership roles, to examine the Constitutional and Bylaws that govern the chartering Party, to have a discussion about when regular meetings would occur for the party, and generally discover what resources will be available to the affiliate. This meeting is used to judge the resources that would be available to a new affiliate. If there are not enough people willing to take leadership roles in the party, by sitting on the Executive Committee, then there’s no reason to continue the affiliation process at this time; instead, you should work on bringing new people into the fold. Never lean on people to join or to take a role with which they’re not comfortable; those people will not last in the organization and they will cause affiliate instability in the future.
Every affiliate party must have a Chair, a Treasurer, and either a Vice-Chair or Secretary. This is Kentucky law, and you will not be able to get a bank account without these three positions being filled. Generally, finding someone who is willing to be the Treasurer is the most difficult task. If you have a Treasurer lined up, you should be ready to move forward with the next meeting.
The second meeting should be scheduled at least 30 days past the first meeting. Those gathered at the first meeting should decide the details of the time, date, and location of the next meeting. Notice of the organizational meeting must be given to those who are in contact with the party in that area.
The Second Meeting – The Real Organizational Meeting
The second meeting is the real organizational meeting. The chair of the chartering party, or their proxy, will chair the meeting, to hold an election for the officers
in the new affiliate.
Ideally, this meeting should take place on the proposed cyclical monthly meeting date, if at all possible, based on the availability of the chair and/or vice-chair of the chartering party.
This meeting should result in an official petition to the chartering party that states the intent to become an affiliate party, and outlines the committee positions elected at the meeting. This document should be signed by the would-be chair and would-be secretary, and delivered to the chair or vice-chair.
KREF Committee Update Form should be filled out and sent the State Party’s Treasurer.
The chartering party will take up this petition at their next business meeting, and consider the petition as a motion to affiliate the party. The issue of officially affiliating the new group will be heard as a motion and upon passage, the affiliate party shall become officially recognized at the end of the business meeting of the chartering party.
The chartering party has the ability to revoke the affiliation of any of its directly-affiliated parties. This is the check-and-balance that exists within the party. If an affiliate goes awry, the chartering party should work to resolve the issue, but if no resolution can be found then the chartering party can vote to disaffiliate the affiliate, to protect itself and the State Party.
Getting started with your new affiliate
Important first steps upon affiliation
New committees should always take advantage of becoming a new affiliate to gain local media contacts, and to inform the local media that the group have been chartered. A press release should mention the date of official affiliation, name of committee members, and the time and place of the monthly business meetings for the group. Never pass up an opportunity for positive earned media.
The press release should be very basic. Do not make any bold, specific policy statements in this release. This is your first impression on the public. Be sure it’s a good one that intrigues people to learn more, and not something that scares people and gets the group labeled as a bunch of crazy people. Perception is reality.
The first thing that a new affiliate needs is a bank account. This can be a difficult process due to newer banking regulations. You should contact the State Treasurer for details on how to open this bank account. All monies must be sent through the State Party. Donations cannot be accepted by any affiliate, and all in-kind work must
be reported to the State Party.
Filing paperwork with State Party
It is critical that the treasurer of your party keeps good records. That starts with filling out a KREF Committee Update Form (Appendix B) and sending it to the State Party’s Treasurer. This form must be filed with the State Party Treasurer before the State Party will send any funds to your group. You should do this before the bank account is opened.
Recurring duties of Executive Committees
There is a formula to holding successful monthly meetings.
For a District Party that encompasses multiple counties, it is likely wise to hold meetings by teleconference. This allows participation by the widest number of members in the affairs of the party.
For a County Party, the first thing to do is to find a place that is reachable by a bulk of the membership, and has a room that is able to be secluded from the rest of the establishment. It’s not good to host a meeting in a place that’s so noisy that no one can hear what’s going on.
Schedule the meeting at a consistent place, on a consistent day of the month, at a consistent time. Consistency is good. Pick a date like, the “2nd Wednesday of the month”, and a consistent time like 6:30PM. 6:30PM is generally a good time. It provides people the opportunity to leave work, not have to rush to the meeting, etc. If meeting at a restaurant, ask people to arrive at 5:45PM or 6PM if they want to order food, so food service doesn’t interrupt the business meeting. This will help make sure that the server isn’t disrupting the meeting.
Keeping the books
The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance now requires semi-annual reports from your Executive Committee. It is absolutely critical that the committee tracks all income (which should only be quarterly payments from the State Party) and outgoing payments. Treasurers should seek training from the LPKY State Party’s Treasurer.
Also, the Executive Committee Update Form needs to be sent to KREF and the State Party immediately any time the Chair or the Treasurer is changed on a committee. If updating a County Party, this form needs to be sent to the District Party Executive Committee as well.
Grow the Party
The purpose of the Libertarian Party of Kentucky is to expand the libertarian message to the broader general public. We do that through multiple means, but the main goal is to continue to increase our ranks. This should always be our #1 priority, above all others.
The core of sustained growth are the “Three P’s”: Patience, Principles, and Pragmatism. Using common language that “regular people” understand, fighting popular battles that are congruent with our principles to build political capital, and having the patience with your fellow volunteers are the ways to create successful, sustained growth. Also, when it comes to current and potential members, try to do a lot more listening than talking. When you talk, have a conversation with the person or people; don’t preach at people.
There are a number of outreach activities that are effective at bringing in new members. Your chartering party should be able to help, but never hesitate to reach out to other parties that are having success. Party of being a political party is gathering that institutional knowledge and putting it to good use.
And at the end of the day, remember that all liberty activists are on the same team. Do not allow disagreements to become personal. Grow the party. Grow the liberty movement. Grow liberty.