wants your vote: Libertarian John Clifton
brush themselves off after losing high-profile candidate;
replacement aims to reopen 9/11 investigation
Clifton became active in the Libertarian Party soon after
the ’94 debacle that was the Howard Stern candidacy. The party
chose Stern for its gubernatorial candidate for the obvious
reasons: He had name recognition; he seemed to share some
libertarian beliefs (he was, at least by default, an advocate
of free speech); and he could pretty much bankroll his own
campaign. The goal was to use Stern’s celebrity to draw the
50,000 votes needed to gain the libertarians a guaranteed
line on the ballot for four years. But the King of All Media
bowed out early, after only four months, leaving the libertarians
high and dry.
And now, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld has done
it again. “We nominate a high-profile person,” Clifton said,
“and they step out.” The Republican, who also had the Libertarian
Party nomination, called it quits in the race for New York
governor after losing the GOP nomination to John Faso.
So Clifton, a 47-year-old social worker from Jamaica, Queens,
stepped in, taking up the Libertarian candidacy for governor.
He said he hopes to grab those 50,000 votes “the traditional
way,” through a grassroots groundswell. It is possible, he
added, pointing to the Green Party in New York state as an
The Greens gained ballot status in the late ’90s with only
a couple hundred active members, he said, and four years later,
their numbers swelled to more than 30,000. “And I think we
will have the potential for a greater growth pattern,” he
said, claiming that, according to a Gallup Poll report, more
than 20 percent of voters hold libertarian beliefs.
These beliefs range from the far left—legalized drugs and
abortions, open immigration—to the extreme right—‘free’ markets
with zero regulations, hefty tax cuts—with a prevailing antiwar
sentiment. It is his stance on the smoking ban (he is against
it), the Rockefeller Drug Laws (he is against them), and the
abuse of eminent domain that separates him from the rest of
the candidates and, he hopes, will win him support with the
voters. Clifton offered an example of his “unique vision”
for New York state: If elected, he will reopen the investigation
into the events of 9/11.
are a lot of people that just don’t believe in the official
version of the story that is presented by the 9/11 Commission’s
investigation,” he said. He has talked to many people who
say the events of the day do not add up. His sister was evacuated
that morning from the World Trade Center and she saw things
that did not compute with the official story.
was evidence that there was damage to the lobby independent
to whatever was going on with the plane that crashed into
the building,” he said. “According to statements of first
responders, there is a case to be made that there were demolition
charges, as if it was an inside job, a controlled demolition.
There are questions to the way everything rolled out that
If he becomes governor, he said, every 9/11 question that
relates to New York state could be reexamined. Why was the
air-defense system at stand-down at the time? How did Building
Seven fall? Why it was understood that there were toxins in
the air in the following days and yet the workers at the site
we actually attacked?” he asked. Considering the Patriot Act
and the intervention in Iraq and possibly Iran, was somebody
actually manipulating events to justify having an expensive,
civil-liberties-destroying, empire-building war? An investigation,
he said, would help clear up these questions once and for
all. Of course, he said, he knows that reopening the investigation
would be unpopular with certain people.
something happens to me mysteriously,” he joked, “it wasn’t
Clifton is unique among the other candidates, too, he said,
because of his commitment to small government. Republican
Faso and Democrat Eliot Spitzer, he argued, are two sides
of the same coin. They are both authoritarians. They are statists
who use government to enforce their ideologies. Libertarians
would remove government from this position of power.
believe in the five freedoms,” he said: the freedom to bear
arms, the freedom from taxation, personal freedoms of privacy
and choice, the freedom to live peacefully, and drug freedoms.
notion that we have to use force to intrude in people’s decision
making,” Clifton said, “must be avoided. I don’t think force
is a solution.”
Enron Corp. chairman and convicted felon Kenneth
Lay died Wednesday morning (July 5) after suffering
a massive heart attack in his vacation home in
Old Snowmass, Colo. “Kenny Boy,” as President
Bush has referred to one of his largest campaign
contributors, was convicted (along with former
Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling) on May 25 for taking
part in one of the largest business frauds in
U.S. history. The company finally went into bankruptcy
protection in December 2001, costing many of its
employees their life savings.
Korea test fired eight missiles this week, drawing
the world’s attention back to the possibility
of a nuclear Pyongyang. Kim Jung Il, North Korea’s
dictator, has been accused by the United States
and others of aggressively pursuing a nuclear
weapons program. According to Washington, none
of the seven missiles successfully lobbed into
the Sea of Japan pose any real threat to the United
States, and the only missile that could reach
Alaska failed on launch. Japan, however, isn’t
happy. The island country reacted to the tests
by imposing economic sanctions against the already
economically crippled country.
Piper to Pay?
week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced
that he would like to see a review of the immunity
that U.S. soldiers enjoy from Iraqi prosecution.
His announcement was prompted by the case of U.S.
Army Pvt. Steven T. Green. According to a joint
military-FBI investigation, Green allegedly raped
an Iraqi girl, murdered her and three of her family
members, and then set her house on fire. News
of the murders sparked a cry for justice across
Ho Bottle Rocket
U.S. shuttle Discovery made a July 4 launch this
week despite arguments that the ship’s fuel tank
needed repairs. During takeoff, insulating foam
from the tank did break away and strike the spacecraft.
Foam strikes were thought to be the cause of the
Columbia space disaster. After inspecting the
shuttle Wednesday, NASA reported that there was
no sign of damage, but claimed it was too early
to be certain.
Ties That Bind
rally behind publicly funded elections in hopes of severing
the relationship between special interests and politicians
A dozen people gathered at the home of Steve Segore in Albany
on June 27 for a lively house party, sans body shots and keg.
Instead, the night was replete with talk of dirty elections,
corrupt politicians, faltering democracy and the hope that
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer will help
bring campaign finance reform to the Capitol.
Thirty-five such parties took place across New York, with
five in the Capital Region, bringing together nearly 1,000
people in support of Clean Money, Clean Elections reform.
is events like this,” said Aaron Mair, one of the party’s
attendees, “that is really the grassroots. We have to take
back our government from parasitic politicians.”
got to wonder why someone would spend five times as much on
their race for office than what they will make in office,”
Segore said. “It is because it is a good investment.”
Peter Jellett, wearing a T-shirt that read “War is Peace/Freedom
is Slavery/Bush is President,” added, “Public office is not
a commodity. Yet, that’s how it is treated.”
The highlight of the event, organized by Citizen Action for
Spitzer, was a conference call from the attorney general himself,
along with his running mate, Senate Minority Leader David
Paterson (D-Harlem). “In 1988, I met an Ohio legislator named
C.J. McLin,” Paterson said over the statewide phone call.
The two discussed the obnoxious influence that money has during
and after elections. “He said, ‘You have to take their money,
eat their food, drink their wine and then vote against their
This is a lofty goal, he said, and one that many politicians
fall short of achieving. Instead, they tend to enable the
wishes of their campaign contributors, many times to the detriment
of their broader constituency.
Paterson has been an advocate of clean-money reform since
1997. He has sponsored legislation in the state Senate (S2401)
that would allow for public funding of all statewide elections,
including elections for state senators, assembly persons and
district attorneys. “We are going to fight for Clean Money,
Clean Elections,” Paterson said, “the minute we get to Albany.”
And in choosing Paterson, many believe that Spitzer has signaled
his own willingness to put into action campaign-finance reform.
have to persuade voters that Clean Money, Clean Elections
is the way to go,” Spitzer said during the event. “We are
going to do it because we care so deeply about this. It is
something that is essential to restoring good governance to
And it is this kind of active support from Spitzer and Paterson
that makes CMCE advocates like Citizen Action organizer Jessica
Wisneski wildly excited.
think it is fantastic! We got a commitment from the candidates,”
Wisneski said. “The likely next governor and lieutenant governor
of New York are supportive of Clean Money and are willing
to fight for it.”
Citizen Action of New York has been working to pass clean-money
legislation since 1996. In 1998, the organization was involved
when the partial-funding system was passed in New York City.
But for a few years, Wisneski said, the supporters of reform
were pretty much inactive.
12 years we had Pataki, and we knew that Pataki wouldn’t even
consider a public-funding system,” she said. “Not even a partial
public-funding system that the state Assembly passes every
The major problems in the past have been the Republicans in
power, she said, pointing to Gov. Pataki and Senate Majority
Leader Joseph Bruno. They haven’t been willing to even consider
a public-funding system. “Shelly Silver and his Assembly have
passed a public-funding bill for years now. But it is a Democratically
sponsored bill, and in the state Senate, like any Democratically
sponsored bill in the state senate, it doesn’t have a prayer.”
If you look at the top campaign contributors and the politicians
they support, she said, they are the ones who are the most
resistant to CMCE. It was obvious that campaign-finance reform
that is as comprehensive as CMCE would only pass if there
were a governor willing to stand up to the special interests.
has stood up to the powerful interests,” she added. “We knew
last year that Spitzer said he supports Clean Money. That
has been a large part of the current drive.”
Since 1996, versions of CMCE legislation have been adopted
by Maine, Vermont, Arizona, Massachusetts, North Carolina,
New Mexico, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Arizona, Maine and
Connecticut have adopted the most comprehensive versions of
the law, enacting programs of public-financing for candidates
for all legislative and statewide offices.
In these states, it is a choice for each candidate to opt
in for the public funding. The candidate must raise a small
amount of money through contributions—each typically around
$5—from the public. Once candidates have done this, they will
receive funds from the state with which to run their campaign.
Once a candidate has signed on to the program, they cannot
accept private contributions nor spend personal monies on
In Maine’s 2004 election, 83 percent of those elected to the
senate and 77 percent of those elected to the house ran on
“clean money.” In Arizona, the governor, attorney general
and treasurer all won their offices on public funding. CMCE
advocates look to these developments as signs that their legislation
Not everyone is convinced that public funding is the way to
go. Josh Hills, communications director for Republican gubernatorial
candidate John Faso, said that Faso doesn’t believe in public
financing for elections. “Albany is already rigged to favor
incumbents,” Hills said, “and this bill would help keep them
entrenched. New York voters would be better served by a requirement
of full and immediate disclosure of contributions.”
many years can we call the state Legislature dysfunctional?”
Wisneski asked. “How many times can we see finance scandals,
big or little, before we make a change that will really make
an impact? This has been on the radar for a long time but
never this close to the center. But it won’t happen without
a groundswell of support.”
Something bad happened there.”
—CDTA Route 18 bus, in the midst of a discussion
of haunted houses.
Nader, at a press conference Tuesday supporting
Alice Green, in response to a question about how
Green could convince Mayor Jerry Jennings to participate
in a debate.
losse ends this week-