Historic LP Online Convention Nominates Jorgensen, Cohen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 25, 2020
Contact: Steven Nekhaila,
Chairman, Libertarian Party of Florida
chair@lpf.org

KEY WEST, Fla. – The Libertarian Party of Florida congratulates Libertarian presidential running team Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen in the first-ever national political convention conducted solely online.

More than a thousand Libertarian Party delegates attended the two-day Convention this past weekend. The gathering ended Sunday but will be reconvened in in-person in Orlando for business meetings this July. Party veteran Jo Jorgensen was nominated as the Libertarian presidential nominee following four rounds of elimination voting. Jeremy “Spike” Cohen was chosen as her running mate after three rounds.

Steven Nekhaila

“This was a historic event that will go down in history as the combination of forward thinking and ingenuity to elect a Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominee in the age of COVID-19,” said LPF Chair Steven Nekhaila. “I am very proud of our Florida delegation and team for doing our part. I am also pleased with the support of the Libertarian National Committee staff for helping to make this a reality. We are excited to support our nominee’s and bring a third real option to constituents in all 50 States including Florida this November!”

A total of 54 Florida delegates and 16 alternates participated in the voting. Nationwide, 1,026 delegates voted to elect Jorgensen, a senior lecturer in psychology at Clemson University. Jorgensen, 63, was Harry Browne’s running mate in 1996. Florida delegates favored Georgia neighbor John Monds in early rounds, they supported party stalwart Vermin Supreme in the final round.

Floridians favored Cohen throughout the three vice-president ballots. Cohen, 37, was initially slated with presidential candidate Vermin Supreme. Supreme fell off the rounds and Cohen went on to the vice-presidential win.

For the most part, the two-day online event went smoothly. Some technical issues and confusion about participation persisted, but failed to prevent the thousands of votes.

“I think overall things went well for a first-time event,” said delegate Chris Jones, vice chair of the LPF Alachua County affiliate. “I think the Florida delegation did a phenomenal job using a separate app for communication and coordination. The Zoom interface definitely did leave much of the delegation somewhat out of the process.”

– By J. Mark Barfield, Staff Writer

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On January 21st, 2020 The Libertarian Party of Orange County passed the following resolution:

The LPOC endorses the Commemoration of the Centennial of the tragic massacre of Black Ocoee Citizens that occurred in 1920. The LPOC opposes racism in any form and supports harmony among all citizens.

This resolution was delivered by Chairman Ralph Groves on February 4th, 2020 to Mayor Johnson and the City of Ocoee Commission Members.

For those interested in learning more about the tragic events of Election Day 1920, there is an exhibit on display at the Orange County Regional History Center that runs though January 3rd, 2021. Information on the exhibit can be found below.

Libertarian Party Logo Challenged as Misleading to “Consumers” in Orange County

May 10, 2019

The Libertarian Party of Orange County received a cease and desist letter from the Orange County Attorney’s Office dated May 7, 2019 regarding the use of the text-less “orange” design element in the Party’s logo and branding. The summary version is that Orange County asserted that this particular design element was protected by Orange County ordinance (under threat of fine and/or imprisonment) and that the Party using it was “likely” to “mislead” Orange County “consumers” who may mistakenly believe that the Libertarian Party was affiliated with or endorsed by the Orange County government. Needless to say, the latter claim is absolutely ludicrous. The Party has never portrayed itself as having any sort of positive relationship with the Orange County government. We also note that the county attorney’s reference of holding “trademark” opens up an interesting can of worms since according our understanding of both Florida and federal law, county governments cannot actually legally hold trademarks on seals and logos, and all works produced by them are considered public domain. Does Orange County illegally hold trademarks? Or did the county attorney simply misspeak? We’d like to know the answer to that.

We’ve attached a full copy of the original letter and our formal response here:

The irony of it all is that the Orange County Libertarian Executive Committee had already decided, even prior to the receipt of this letter, to redesign all of our branding this month to meet our own marketing objectives. We are not attached to the logo that the cease and desist covered. One month later this whole kerfuffle would have been irrelevant. Had the letter simply been a polite request to discontinue use, informing the county of our plans would have been our response. However, the original letter contained some illustrations of the disturbing and abusive way in which the Orange County government sees its relationship with its residents. We felt compelled to respond accordingly.

Until our actual branding redesign is completed, we did in fact temporarily change all branding and logos to replace the original “orange” design element with a pixelated and censored version with a large “no” symbol on top of it. This logo is intended to satirize the actual relationship between our Party and the Orange County government. We note that satire is a particularly strongly protected category under freedom of speech and copyright jurisprudence. Changing the logo complies with the referenced ordinance (Orange County Code of Ordinances Chapter 2 Article I Section 2-3) and associated Florida Statute (F.S. 165.043) that authorized the ordinance to be passed, which does not distinguish between intent to defraud and does not care whether anyone was actually harmed or misled. Like so many laws, there is no concern for whether an actual victim exists or whether any actual harm was done.

The ordinance lists a specific set of graphics – present in the ordinance itself – that are considered protected by law, and violations are punishable as a second degree misdemeanor. It is unclear how exactly the punishment would apply to an organization such as the Party rather than an individual – i.e. whether the Party itself would be fined, or whether the Chair would be held personally liable. Under normal circumstances, case law in Florida such as Microdecisions, Inc. vs. Skinner established that county governments are not allowed to copyright images. Furthermore, government seals from state to municipal level are explicitly forbidden from being trademarked by federal law under 15 USC 1052(b). None of the logos referenced appear to be registered as a state or federal trademark, although we are still in the process of researching that to be sure. Given the extreme complexity of the Orange County Code of Ordinances, we were unaware of this particular ordinance and referenced statute that enabled the county to enforce unique use of that particular graphic regardless of its derivation or trademark status. It is an interesting open question as to whether this particular Florida statute and Orange County ordinance are actually constitutional under federal and state constitutional law.

The piece in the original letter that particularly stands out to us is euphemistically calling Orange County residents as “consumers.” Just the idea that the local government considers its residents as “consumers” of itself is disturbing. Consumers exist in a voluntary relationship in the marketplace where choices can be made and individuals can choose whether or not to use a particular service. A consumer relationship is NOT one based on force and coercion, much less threats of locking people in a cage. If I’m a voluntary “consumer” of Orange County, then I would be able to decide to opt out of Orange County services and in exchange not pay my property tax, sales tax county surcharge, or local gas tax surcharge. I would also be able to choose to do business in Orange County without the business tax license or zoning approval unless I wished to be provided relevant Orange County services. Obviously none of this is true and Orange County’s extremely involved relationship with its residents is best described as “abusive.”

At the end of the day, the whole issue is minor from our perspective. We doubt the Orange County Attorney’s Office proactively found this issue on their own. No doubt someone – likely from another political party – saw our logo and complained about it to use the law as a weapon against a political adversary. We take all such attacks in stride as a sign that the Libertarian movement is strengthening in Orange County. Litigating this would be an absolute waste of taxpayer funds, as was the original effort invested by the Orange County Attorney’s Office in pursuing this complaint to begin with. Pursuing this complaint may well have exposed the original ordinance as unconstitutional, if we had not chosen to comply in a satirical way for our own reasons, and we may yet find out that the Orange County government itself is illegally asserting trademarks.

We hope the Orange County Attorney’s Office finds a more productive use of its time moving forward.