Tuesday, March 20, 2007

LPO: Burke responds; you decide

Beginning with last Friday morning, I attempted to get information from LPO Executive Director Richard Burke (via emails and phone messages) on the story I finally published yesterday morning on allegations of nefarious activity by Burke.

Monday mid-afternoon Burke finally called me back and we talked about the allegations mentioned that morning.

Burke made it clear that he believes these allegations are nothing more than a product of infighting between two factions of the Libertarian Party of Oregon. He said that the Gmail chat was in fact not about soliciting the donor list from the national LPO, but to verify specific information to prove false other allegations made against him having to do with falsifying member lists.

Burke claims that if he really wanted to know who the big shot donors for the national Libertarian Party, all he'd need to do is check FEC records.

This may be the case, but it still doesn't explain why the national Libertarian Party didn't want Burke to have that information and why the woman in the chat felt the need to hide what she was doing from her boss.

Burke further contends that the chat itself is only partially authentic and that someone "broke into his account". He wasn't specific about which parts of the chat may have been altered in terms of adding material--but he says that the end of the chat was left off, which provides context for some of the other things that were said. I invited Mr. Burke to send me the chat in its entirety so that I could view it (and would post it here with his permission). He said that he would look through his Gmail and see if he could find it.

In terms of the sexual nature at the end, Burke referred to his relationship with the woman in the chat as "a personal friend" and her use of the "MrsRBurke" chat name as "an inside joke". He characterized the sexual material as authentic (meaning he in fact did write those things) but it was meant "tongue in cheek". He says if the chat were seen in its entirety, this would be evident.

Mr. Burke and I also spoke about the Tualatin Valley Water District allegations proffered by Tristan Reisfar of KPOV in Bend. Burke said that Pearson's position on the oversight committee for Burke's LPO Executive Director job wasn't a conflict of interest because the committee was disbanded on December 16, 2006, well before the previous TV Water Board commissioner died, leaving the job open (and Pearson's subsequent seating to the position).

There's more to this story in terms of allegations and proof (or lack thereof). I'm not convinced that the whole truth here has yet been told.

It does seem rather odd that the Libertarians have a party in the first place--that seems so anti-Libertarian to me. But perhaps that explains in part the viciousness of the fighting here. And why the group is so factionalized.

More on the Libertarian Days of Our Lives to come.....