4. Achievements of the campaign staff
by Harry Browne
It is amazing to me how much our campaign staff was able to achieve with so little resources. Everyone who worked with us did a first-class job — working long hours under very difficult conditions, while achieving outstanding results much of the time.
Each person earned an income far below market levels. And several staffers were continually behind on receiving their pay — willing to delay payment in order to allow as much income as possible to be poured into advertising and other forms of outreach.
Although it might seem that the Democrats and Republicans get much more advertising for their dollars than we did, the reverse is actually true. Salaries comprised a much higher percentage of the money they raised than salaries represented in our campaign, and we spent a much higher percentage on advertising. The others did so much advertising only because they received so much of the taxpayers’ money. They are truly welfare queens.
Meanwhile, we had ideological kings and queens.
Jim Babka was our Press Secretary, and he achieved wonders in that capacity. He also performed many management functions for the campaign, was an important strategic planner, and was our liaison with other organizations, pollsters, and anyone with whom we needed to have a relationship. His demeanor and professionalism made him the ideal person to handle these relationships. His achievements in organizing the Meet the Press pressure and getting Fox TV News to run our TV ads as news items are something he can be proud of.
Robert Brunner was a tireless booker of radio and TV shows. A number of show producers have told me what a pleasure it was to work with Robert. But Robert was much more than just a booker. He was really the Deputy Press Secretary — packaging press kits, mailing them, fielding the phone calls of others when they were unavailable, and always exhibiting a positive, upbeat attitude. We were fortunate to have him on the staff.
Robert Flohr was our Utility Infielder — doing data entry, booking media, and arranging for free advertising on stations around the country — and doing it all quickly and efficiently.
Stephanie Yanik was the Jill of All Trades — handling bookkeeping, bill-paying, tours, graphics work, and much else — even doing a great deal of work on the creation and production of the TV infomercial and ads. In the process she took work that was in some cases entirely new to her and handled it expertly.
Laura Carno was another tireless worker, doing almost all the scheduling in the latter months and making arrangements for our campaign events. It seemed that nothing ever went wrong with anything she was in charge of. She moved her residence in 1999, and delayed taking another “regular” job until the campaign was over — staying in a hotel in Washington at the end of the campaign while her husband moved again to Colorado. She is a business executive who commands a large salary in the free market, but was willing to perform any task — no matter how menial — to help the campaign succeed.
Debbie Greeson performed a number of jobs for the campaign — scheduler, booker, computer projects, and much else. She also filled in when the workload got to be too much for others. Through all this, she also served as my secretary — making sure the Browne household didn’t collapse during the campaign. We all profited greatly from her efficiency.
Kristin Overn did a phenomenal job producing the 30-minute Infomercial and the 1-minute ads. I believe they ushered in a new era of Libertarian advertising. I expect any future presidential campaign to use those ads as a standard to live up to.
Geoff Braun was our Webmaster (and still maintains my site on a volunteer basis). He created a campaign site that received numerous compliments and made it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to gain quick access to Libertarian ideas that changed their thinking. He also acted as associate producer for our Infomercial and ads.
Jack Dean edited LibertyWire (the forerunner of FreedomWire), as well as doing extensive research and consulting on Internet strategy. The up-to-date information you received online during the campaign was due primarily to Jack.
I believe Michael Cloud is the world’s greatest fund-raiser — not just the top Libertarian fund-raiser. As emcee of our campaign events, he was entertaining, informative, and able to show thousands of people the importance of funding this campaign. He also helped with strategic planning. And he did all this while managing Carla Howell’s powerful Senate campaign in Massachusetts.
Jennifer Willis not only ran the volunteer network, she handled the bulk of the enormous non-financial data processing that’s a tiresome part of any such campaign. It was she who built a pre-campaign network of over 4,000 volunteers. Like most of the others, she learned a new job quickly and made the most of it.
Steve Willis was a life-saver. As our Road Manager, he made life incomparably easier for me. He handled all the nagging details that come up on tour, stage-managed the campaign rallies, drove the rental cars, acted as the campaign’s official photographer, and was excellent company. But before the travel schedule expanded in early 2000, he helped Jennifer get the Volunteer Program launched in the critical early stages of 1999, and performed numerous functions within the campaign office.
Stuart Reges oversaw all the financial data processing apparatus and took care of Federal Election Commission compliance. He has been doing this for LP campaigns for a long time and is a treasured asset of the party.
Rob DeVoil processed all the incoming money efficiently, and kept the money flowing rapidly to the campaign.
Sharon Ayres performed a number of tasks for the campaign, doing them as a volunteer — cheerfully and with her usual precise efficiency.
Jack Williams answered every message received at the website — sometimes as many as a hundred in a single day. He not only got the job done, he did it in a way that brought us many new friends and undoubtedly many more votes. And he did this full-time job as an unpaid volunteer.
Although Art Matsko was an outside contractor, he devoted his entire business to the campaign — handling all our fulfillment orders, and handling them in a much speedier way than any Libertarian campaign in history. He has ushered in a new era of efficient order-handling for libertarian organizations. Fortunately, he will continue doing this with his new LibertyTools subsidiary. He also published The Great Libertarian Offer. He wound up donating tons of campaign material and probably lost a lot of money on the campaign.
Last and foremost, Perry Willis managed the entire enterprise. He coped with what I would consider insurmountable problems — and achieved surprisingly successful results. His ability to keep us focused on the most important projects was the key to our successful outreach. I can’t imagine our doing even half as much with anyone else at the helm.
Of course, Perry’s work for the 2000 campaign was just the latest chapter in a long history of achievements for the party. Almost his entire life since 1983 has been spent working for the party. Everywhere he has served — as Executive Director of the San Diego LP, Finance Director of the California LP, working on candidate campaigns and initiatives — he has successfully elevated his environment to new levels of professionalism and success.
When he became National Director in late 1993, the LP entered a new era — one in which the National Director became an active, driving force to initiate new campaigns that took the party to new heights of outreach and membership.
His Project Archimedes brought 15,000 new members to the party and actually turned a profit for the party within three years. One of his recruitment mailings in 1997 not only brought in new members, it returned 2-1/2 times its cost immediately.
As National Director, Perry made possible a great deal of cooperation between the national office and the 1996 presidential campaign. He and I worked together to raise $60,000 to hire three new headquarters employees and train them before the convention, so as to be prepared to handle the load of the general election campaign.
We also worked together to transform people from my investment background into LP supporters. Altogether, according to Steve Dasbach, 79% of the current LP membership have joined the party since January 1996.
Perry has always been a man of driving vision — one who can see new possibilities and act on them. In the process, he has always carried a great weight of responsibilities on his back — including the weight of criticism from those who oppose his efforts and oppose especially his initiative and ability to act without waiting for approval. He has borne that weight well and made many of us better people and better libertarians for his efforts.
Perry Willis is truly an extraordinary person. The Libertarian Party has benefited greatly from his efforts, his dedication, and his determination to keep raising libertarian projects and the Libertarian Party to higher and higher levels.
No one is perfect, and that includes Perry. And supposedly there is no such thing as an indispensable man. But I know for certain that our campaign would have achieved far less — and the Libertarian Party would be far smaller and less influential today — if Perry Willis had not been willing to devote his life to these efforts.
I must admit that I get upset when I hear talk about the campaign staff as though it were comprised of a bunch of high-paid “consultants” who got fat and sassy off the 2000 campaign (and the same was said about their counterparts in 1996).
To the contrary, these people in many cases gave up their homes, ended careers, uprooted their families, moved to the Washington area, and worked for a few months — only to be out of jobs when the campaign ended and have to start all over again.
While working for the campaign, they often received their meager paychecks weeks late. Some of them had their credit ratings destroyed. Others began work on the understanding that they’d receive a salary — even if at below-market rates — only to be converted to pure volunteers because of lack of money. And several others wound up writing off back pay that they will never receive.
Perhaps what was even worse was that no one could see the part they played in our successful media coverage or in getting me appearances at large gatherings. The people on the staff were in effect anonymous and faceless. All anyone knew about them — if anything — were the rumors circulated about them by cranks who thought someone other than I should have been the nominee and so would attack our campaign in any way they could — often defaming the “overpaid” staffers.
Needless to say, the people doing the defaming were not contributors to the campaign, and so they had no standing in the matter. But it didn’t shut them up.
It was different for me. Anyone could say anything he wanted about me, because I was out in public and people could see what I was doing and judge for themselves. They didn’t have to depend on rumors and innuendoes to evaluate me. But the people on the staff had no way of defending themselves or making their efforts, dedication, and sacrifices visible to the average Libertarian.
And the praise I gave them publicly during the campaign was, in my opinion, far too little — partly because the average person doesn’t want me spending my time talking about the staff. It begins to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech.
In sum, you could say the campaign operated with a highly developed specialization of labor: the people on the staff did all the work and I got all the credit.
I was able to see many of the achievements of our campaign staff. But I was able to see first-hand only a small part of what volunteers all over America did to make the campaign more visible and respected than any previous campaign. Their energetic, innovative, effective, and anonymous work made it possible for us to reach new levels in reaching non-Libertarians.
FINALLY . . .
The 1996 and 2000 campaigns wouldn’t have been possible for me without the cooperation and support of my wife Pamela. She stood by me through six years of campaigning and party-building. I think campaigning was much harder for her than for me. I was continually exhilarated by the support we received, but she usually didn’t get to experience that, because we couldn’t afford to have her travel with me very much during 2000. But she never complained, no matter how much it cost us personally, and she never wavered in her desire to see the campaign succeed.
I am deeply grateful for the work of the staff, my wife, and the thousands of volunteers.
I will remember their efforts and their encouragement as long as I live.