Free State Project forms alliance
|Title:||Free State Project forms alliance|
|Publication:||Seacoast Online (AP)|
[FSP note: The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance (NHLA) described in this article is not affiliated with the Free State Project, nor are they a partner organization. This article is included for informational purposes.]
Free State Project forms allianceby Kate McCann Associated Press Writer 10/31/01
CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire members of the project to bring 20,000 liberty-minded people to the state are forming a political action committee.
Saturday marks one month since supporters of the Free State Project announced New Hampshire would be the stage for their revolution. And they will celebrate by signing paperwork to become the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance.
The goal of the Free State Project is to scale back government, taxes and reliance on the public school system. Some members want to legalize drugs and prostitution and lift restrictions on gun ownership and gambling. But the main point is to get government out of people's lives.
About 40 people are working to organize the alliance, which is a project of the New Hampshire members, not the national group. For now, the alliance works from the living room of chairman James Maynard, who lives in Keene.
Free state membership count in New Hampshire has grown from 150 in July to 219, Maynard said. National membership is at 5,005. The majority of those in the alliance are Free State Project members.
Supporters said an early piece of legislation they will likely support is Gov. Craig Benson's Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
The amendment would cap budget increases at the rate of inflation and population change. It would also call for a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to increase the rate of existing taxes.
Benson is expected to speak Saturday at a gathering of the Libertarian Party. Some Free State leaders are attending.
Maynard describes the alliance as a nonpartisan political watchdog, a think-tank, and a charity-minded organization.
The group will financially support "pro-liberty" candidates of all political stripes and volunteer for their campaigns, he said.
They plan to work with pre-existing charities and form their own. Alliance charities will do things like offer children private scholarships to public schools.
Don Gormon, the former chair of the Libertarian caucus in the state House of Representatives, is in charge of political action for the alliance.
Gormon, a chimney sweep who lives in Deerfield, plans to score legislators on how liberty-minded they really are, and make the results public. Alliance members will do this by dissecting bills and tracking legislators' voting records on pro- and anti-liberty legislation.
For instance, if a legislator strongly supports a statewide smoking ban, mandatory helmets for lobbyists or a tax hike, he or she would score badly.
Alliance members will then take their analysis and publish it on the Internet, or send it to taxpayers groups.
Gormon said the alliance does not intend to threaten candidates who vote for legislation they dislike. Instead, they want to sit down with them and try to change their mind.
The best hope is probably to reach freshman, middle-of-the road legislators who are not hard-line liberals or conservatives, he said.
"We are not just going to do like most people, sign petitions and testify on a bill and jump up and down in front of the Statehouse," Gormon said. "We are going to either sit down and reason with these individuals or try to replace them" by running for office.
If no candidates file in a district, the alliance would seize the opportunity to elect one of their own.
"I won't say we are going to be a smashing success. But are we significant? Yes," Gormon said. "It gives you a foundation. It gives you something to build on. I think that foundation is going to be very solid."
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