In a trailer...down by the river! (Left): Aaron Day, chairman and founder of Stark360 PAC and chairman of The Free State Project (FSP). (Right): one of the FSP's more high profile members, attending President Obama's 2009 healthcare townhall meeting in Portsmouth, NH sporting a stylish 9mm handgun.
New Hampshire's libertarian invasion, the self-styled Free State Project
(FSP), is a long-running but thus far marginal effort by a collection of Ayn Rand followers, anarchists, objectivists, open-carry weapon enthusiasts, tax resisters, scofflaws, and other assorted species of libertarians to move in and commandeer the state of New Hampshire for 'freedom.'
Officially, the FSP organization does not endorse or oppose political candidates or legislative initiatives, but it's chairman, Aaron Day, and others of its members and supporters recently launched Stark360 PAC to do just that. Like most such 'go Galt' initiatives, Stark360 PAC was conceived in and running on fumes -- until just two weeks ago, when Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig's Mayday PAC (dedicated to achieving campaign finance reform by buying Republican congressional candidates) quietly bankrolled the baby PAC to the tune of six figures.
Irony ensues (below the fold).
Last week, William Tucker's progressive blog, miscellany:Blue, broke the story of Mayday PAC's otherwise unheralded financing of the start-up rand-fan Stark360 PAC.
The timeline surrounding this curious development is both fascinating and, perhaps, telling:
July 29: Mayday PAC endorses the New Hampshire primary bid for the U.S. Senate of right-wing extremist, Jim Rubens (R).
July 29: Stark360 PAC is organized by FSP chairman Aaron Day.
August 21: Mayday PAC makes a $52,000 contribution to Stark360 PAC, roughly tripling the infant PAC's lifetime cash receipts.
August 22: One day after that payment, Stark360 PAC endorses the candidacy of Jim Rubens.
August 27: Mayday injects another $51,500 into Stark360's coffers.
The bankrolling of Stark360 PAC by Lawrence Lessig's Mayday makes for bizarre bedfellows in so many ways, not the least of which is this: Dan Backer, Stark360's Treasurer and Special Advisor, was also the victorious attorney in the recent and notorious McCutcheon v FEC supreme court case (the decision that has opened the floodgates to unlimited aggregate contributions to political campaigns). Among those on the losing side of McCutcheon was Lessig himself, whose widely celebrated amicus brief in support of the F.E.C.'s case was largely ignored by the court.
This association between a Stark360 officer and the forces arrayed in opposition to campaign finance reform appears to be more than merely a matter of 'every plaintiff has a right to an attorney.' Stark360's chairman, Aaron Day, is himself is a vocal critic of reform measures such as New Hampshire's SB 120, a bill imposing minor new reporting requirements on New Hampshire PACs which Day disparagingly christened “The Incumbent Protection, Racketeering, and Nullification of the 1st Amendment Bill.” Indeed, it would appear that intransigent opposition to campaign finance reform is a foundational principle of Mayday's new kid brother, Stark360 PAC.
Many New Hampshire natives and long-time residents are less than sanguine regarding Aaron Day's social engineering projects in the Granite State. For example, thirty year NH resident and planning commission member, Victoria Parmele, describes the Free State Project's agenda in, shall we say, stark terms:
“I’ve spoken to several Free Staters who’ve moved here, in part, because they see economic and social disaster ahead for the U.S. – so it will be survival of the fittest played out in New Hampshire,” said Parmele. “Their goal is to shrink government down to essentially nothing, including removing safety nets of all kinds, leaving us all to fend for ourselves. This is completely impractical in this complicated world, as well as cruel. The idea of the common good, beyond themselves and their own community, is largely irrelevant to them. To me, they are naive and narcissistic in their quest for liberty. It’s really disturbing to think about what 20,000 of them – assuming they are all serious about coming here – could do to New Hampshire.”
It's hard to imagine that sensible Granite Staters will find Stark360 PAC's endorsement of Mayday's poodle, Jim Rubens, a compelling reason to vote for him in this Tuesday's Republican primary match-up versus Scott Brown. But Day's Free State Project does have approximately 1,600 followers resident in the state today, and the Stark360/FSP chairman can perhaps deliver most all of their votes for Rubens. At $66 per vote, Mayday perhaps views this as a good investment.
h/t to miscellany:Blue's William Tucker for unearthing the Mayday/Stark360 connection, and DKos member susanthe for calling Tucker's excellent work to my attention.
UPDATE 1 (9/7): In a blog response to the uproar this latest Mayday story is creating, Lessig explains regarding Mayday's support for Stark360: "I made the decision to do this — in this way — both because I thought it could advance the campaign, and because I believe it is important to practice working together where there’s genuine common ground for working together. The Stark360 folks came to me after we announced our support for Rubens. They too had endorsed Rubens." Which seems in conflict with the fact (reported above) that Mayday's first reported payment to Stark360 is dated August 21, whereas Stark360's endorsement of Rubens is dated August 22.
UPDATE 2 (9/8): Following up on the information reported in this diary, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports:
Stark360 Co-founder and Chairman Aaron Day says there is nothing to online reports that the Mayday funding helped secure his PAC’s support for Rubens. "That’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said Monday. “There’s absolutely no truth to the idea that one was tied to the other. We had already agreed to endorse Rubens.” Whatever the case, some Democrats in New Hampshire are unhappy with Mayday PAC co-founder Lawrence Lessig, as William Tucker writes on his blog.