The Libertarian Party of Orange County is the official Orange County affiliate of the Libertarian Party of Florida, part of the third largest political party in the United States of America. There are over 2,100 registered Libertarian voters in Orange County. We advocate for individual liberty: free markets for free people.
You can now register to vote online at https://registertovoteflorida.gov - make sure to select "LPF" as your political party!
Our regular business meeting is the third Tuesday of each month at Orlando Brewing.
Regular business meeting - DRAFT Agenda for July 16, 2019 Business Meeting
Minutes from prior meeting - Minutes for June 18, 2019
NOTICE - the venue for the regular business meeting has changed to the Village Inn Restaurant in Winter Garden
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.
Victory for Voting Rights with Amendment 4
Darryl Sheppard for Sheriff Calls Himself a "Democrat with Libertarian Views"
In a Facebook post dated October 23, 2018, Democratic candidate for Sheriff Darryl Sheppard posted the above text, we assume in response to Libertarians Endorse Joe Lopez for Orange Sheriff.
Seems everyone wants to call themselves a Libertarian these days, doesn't it? It's a label you can actually be proud of.
We must give him credit where credit is due though - calling to end enforcement of the drug war is actually a fantastically libertarian position and a level of boldness we have to respect. While the Sheriff can't change the existing laws - especially not state or federal - the Sheriff DOES have significant discretion on how to prioritize enforcement resources. A liberty-friendly sheriff would make full use of that discretion for the benefit of our community. Sheppard is exactly right on target here.
In light of this, you may wonder why we did not endorse Sheppard and instead endorsed his opponent Joe Lopez?
The initial answer is that Sheppard is running as a partisan Democrat, and our endorsement guidelines mean that we will almost never endorse a partisan Democrat or Republican absent truly compelling circumstances - we strongly favor independent, third party, and nonpartisan candidates.
Beyond that, Sheppard's personal record gave us significant pause. The core philosophy of the Libertarian Party is the Non-Aggression Principle - the idea that everyone owns themselves and therefore it is morally wrong to initiate force, fraud, or any other form of coercion against others. We also strongly consider not just the candidate's platform and promises but also their "good governance" record regarding transparency, accountability, and potential for corruption.
Review Sheppard's personal record for yourself rather than taking anyone else's word for it. You will likely see why we were skeptical of his commitment to our core philosophy and his ability to actually implement his bold promises.
Update: since this article was written, we saw a WESH news story about Sheppard knowingly sharing a fake tweet which portrayed Mina as being supported by Donald Trump. Despite our many other criticisms of Mina, that one is totally off base. This is a minor example of the various types of items that led to our reservations about Sheppard: https://www.wesh.com/article/facebook-page-of-candidate-for-orange-county-sheriff-shares-fake-trump-endorsement-tweets/24117296
If Sheppard is elected, we hope he proves our concerns totally wrong and does exactly what he's promising here. We'd be glad to admit we were wrong if that happens. However, with all the ongoing news stories we see each day, this seems very unlikely.
Rather than rolling the dice on a risky candidate who says some of the right things, we decided to favor incremental reform and endorse accountability and integrity - Libertarians endorse Joe Lopez for Sheriff.
Libertarians Endorse Joe Lopez for Orange Sheriff
Official Statement of the Libertarian Party of Orange County Executive Committee
The Libertarian Party of Orange County Executive Committee has taken the unusual step of endorsing Joe Lopez for Orange County Sheriff at our September 18 regular business meeting. Most Libertarians have passionate and bold opinions about criminal justice reform. Many are deeply skeptical of law enforcement at all levels. It's rare to find a sheriff candidate that meets our criteria for endorsement - particularly since Orange County Sheriff is a partisan race and we almost never endorse Democratic or Republican partisan candidates.
However, Joe Lopez, a former Florida Highway Patrol officer, Marine, and non-partisan candidate for sheriff, won our endorsement due to his strength on two signature Libertarian issues along with a general consensus of our executive committee that he would be an incremental step of progress in Orange County law enforcement back towards constitutional and accountable community policing. We also appreciate that Lopez has private sector experience as a security manager at Walt Disney World - while we are not necessarily fans of the Mouse's influence on Orange County politics, we do believe that it is important that elected officials also have that context of private sector experience to balance out their public service.
Contrasts on Surveillance
One of the many issues Libertarians have with one of the other two sheriff candidates - John Mina, the current Orlando Police Chief - is his eager attitude toward promoting warrantless surveillance reinforcing the divide between "us" and "them" in law enforcement. This approach is best exemplified by the Amazon facial recognition via camera pilot program. We recoil at the notion that the police should be spying on the public at all times, and decry this program in particular - as we like to remind people, 1984 was a cautionary tale, not a "how to" manual. Lopez, by contrast, first caught our attention due to his public and repeated advocacy to end red light cameras, another unconstitutional form of surveillance. He cited the same statistics we have brought up to various city councils, particularly Apopka, regarding the fact that red light cameras actually make intersections less safe for motorists.
While ultimately the decision on red light camera contracts is up the Orange County Commission and the various city councils, historically they have done so using the testimony of law enforcement to promote and justify their decisions. To have the top law enforcement officer in the county backing the Libertarian Party on one of our signature issues would be huge. Beyond that - as our friendly rivals in the Orange County Constitution Party agree - Lopez shows a generally solid understanding of the principles of constitutional policing, something sorely needed in Orange County.
Accountability and Integrity
Lopez has made accountability and integrity the cornerstone of his campaign themes. This is music to the ears of Libertarians who are deeply concerned about law enforcement seeing itself as above its own laws and as a different class of more valuable citizens than "civilians." But is this any more than just a campaign promise? Lopez's background in the Marines and in the Florida Highway Patrol give us hope that it is more than just a campaign prop.
Lopez did not come up through the establishment power structure in Orange County - neither through the Orange County Sheriff Department nor through the Orlando Police Department. Thus, Lopez is - or at least should be - beholden to no one and has the potential to be a truly independent law enforcement leader. His credentials also give him credibility to potentially make real changes with the deputies in the Sheriff's Office and be able to lead by example. Conversely, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and almost every other establishment career politician - Republican or Democrat - in Orange County endorsed Lopez's opponent John Mina. And it's no surprise why - as Orlando Police Chief and the handpicked successor of outgoing sheriff and incoming Orange Mayor Jerry Demings, Mina is literally the establishment status quo. And that is exactly what Libertarians don't want, particularly because the City of Orlando Police has the worst record in the entire state of Florida on police killings of residents (per FDLE reports) even beating out Miami, Hialeah, and Jacksonville. We would like to see a Sheriff who can make his own independent constitutional decisions for what's best for the county based on solid first principles.
The Florida Highway Patrol are known for being one of the few departments willing to cross the thin blue line and arrest other officers for wrongdoing, particularly in local departments. In conversations with our Executive Committee, particularly our Membership Chair, Lopez seems to have retained this attitude after leaving FHP, and clarified that deputy integrity and accountability has to come first to regain public trust in law enforcement - even when it's difficult. Lopez has repeatedly criticized Mina in particular on the lack of the transparency across the board: for how Mina handled the Pulse shooting response, obfuscating the abuse in custody of accused police killer Markeith Lloyd (we condemn Lloyd's actions, but still believe that all are entitled to the same constitutional protections regardless of their crime), and Mina's general disdain for citizen review boards. Finally, Lopez also showed a solid understanding of the one form of surveillance we do support: police body cameras. He understood not only how they can protect the public from police abuse and excessive force, but also how they also can protect deputies from false accusations, as well as the many pitfalls that can render their deployment less effective.
Concerns and Caveats
As the Party of Principle, we would be remiss if we did not mention some areas where we disagree with Lopez. We were dismayed to see Lopez advocate continuing the War on Drugs at the Pine Hills Community Council debate, which is exactly the opposite of what that community needs. While drug addiction and abuse is a truly sad situation, it merits sympathy and medical treatment towards addicts while encouraging them to maintain their social support structures, not locking them in cages and leaving them to rot with murderers and rapists - and cannabis users shouldn't even be on the radar in the first place. The associated gang violence, which is the core problem in many communities affected by drugs, is a direct consequence of Prohibition in much the same way as Al Capone's gangs during Alcohol Prohibition in the early 20th century. The lessons and statistics are clear: enforcement of Prohibition makes things worse, not better; this includes making things far worse for law enforcement officers being unnecessarily placed in harm's way to enforce unjust laws. Lopez has shown great promise in analyzing the statistics of red light cameras to come to a counter-intuitive conclusion - we hope he will take to the time to do the same regarding alternate approaches on drug enforcement. While we have strong reservations about the Democratic candidate Darryl Sheppard regarding his personal record, we do commend that he had the courage to openly call for ending the Drug War in this same debate; it's a breath of fresh air to see any sheriff candidate make this call. We ask Lopez to at least consider that the current model has totally failed and Orange County needs new leadership and priorities regarding drug enforcement.
We were also disappointed to hear Lopez agree with Mina on the three day waiting period for gun sales and similar gun rights restrictions in Orange County during the League of Women Voters debate. While this is the status quo in Orange County and state law limits just how far the county can go down this rabbit hole, we believe the Sheriff should be one of the strongest defenders of the 2nd Amendment in Orange County - certainly the Orange County Commission won't be. We ask Lopez to reconsider this position in light of a few premises:
- Violent criminals aren't particularly deterred by a waiting period and can easily purchase guns on the black market, so this law only affects law-abiding residents in the first place - there are no statistics showing that this policy actually helps anything or reduces violence
- All gun restrictions, except those applied to individuals by due process in a court of law, are infringements on the 2nd Amendment.
- The three day waiting period and similar restrictions CAN hurt the most vulnerable in our county, such as a young mother who has realized her abusive partner or ex-partner is an immediate domestic violence risk and understands that a restraining order is just a piece of paper - this is also part of why the Libertarian Party opposed the Republican gun control bill SB 7026 this year since it stripped the rights to purchase firearms from 18-20 year old adults.
Conclusions and Recommendation
We endorse Joe Lopez in light of a measured consideration of his strengths and weaknesses relative to our party platform and principles. Lopez is not a Libertarian, and we don't agree with all of his policies, but in the absence of an ideal Libertarian candidate we believe he is a solid improvement over the status quo in Orange County that merits your vote. Even his policies that we disagree with are still not worse than the status quo in Orange County, which is one of the metrics we use for endorsements. We believe that Lopez will be a solid choice to turn around the Orange County Sheriff's Office and make improvements towards constitutional community policing that work toward restoring integrity and trust in the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
Opposing Florida Senate Bill 7026 Gun Control in Tally
ORANGE LIBERTARIANS - CALL TO ACTION
First off - we now have a Youtube channel! Please subscribe - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6YqTLtQsxab6hyKdgItcAA.
Libertarian Party of Florida leadership went all-in opposing Florida Senate Bill 7026, the Republican gun control bill. Surreal, right? We have guys on the ground fighting hard for our #2A rights, since the other two parties sure aren't.
How can you help?
📞 If you live in Florida, call your State Senator's district office. Email them. Crash their district office in person. Tell them you oppose this. They notice, and they know that for every one person that speaks, 100 more feel the way. Alison Foxall, Libertarian's email was top on the list for her State Senator. They know who we are. And some of them are scared.
🤔 And be smart about it - hammer Republicans on gun rights and spending of course, but anti-gun Democrats also have issues with the 4th amendment violations (we all know those will target minorities), are mad the bill DOESN'T have an "assault" weapons ban, and even though we're cool with teachers being able to carry, they'll be squirrelly about it. A no is still a no.
🎞️ Spread our videos! We're trying to educate folks on what we learned this round and how to fight this battle.
💵 Please contribute to the LPF or to our activists! 💵