- Created: Tuesday, 15 January 2013 06:44
- Written by Joseph P. Silvestri
Reasons why Brett Pojunis needed to go.
As I have been repeatedly attacked by Brett Pojunis for my leadership of the Libertarian Party of Nevada, I feel compelled to respond to the accusations made against me and to state for the record the reasons why Brett Pojunis had to be removed from the Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Nevada. Before I give those reasons, I wish to apologize to the State Chairs of Region 4 for so wholeheartedly endorsing Brett. As a salesman, he presents a good pitch. He promises exactly what you need and makes you hope that all will be delivered. I was overly optimistic that he was all that he appeared. At first, he seemed great. He had big exciting ideas and promised to deliver on them. With his business charts and confident timelines, he created a positive first impression.
But, as time passed, I learned better.
It is worth noting that the Libertarian Party of Nevada executive committee that was elected at the last convention did not include Brett Pojunis. He was appointed by me to fill a vacant position.
Over the course of less than a year, he lost the support of the executive committee to the point where we were prepared to remove him from the board. In anticipation of his removal, Brett resigned and shared our local dispute across the country with a broadside attack on me, and the rest of the Libertarian Party of Nevada executive committee. While not speaking for the committee, I will address reasons why I came to this opinion, and let other committee members speak for themselves.
Once again, I offer my apologies to my fellow Region 4 State Chairs, and to the rest of the state leadership who wasted time on such matters. Although I usually read (most) everything on the State Chairs list, I infrequently post. I share my two cents when appropriate, and try not to clutter up the list. Our lives are busy enough without useless chatter.
With that in mind, I do believe many in our state and national Libertarian Party leadership will finds my comments of interest, and possibly of practical help. Brett Pojunis currently serves as a Regional Rep 4 on the LNC. He has lately been recruiting for states to endorse Big L Solutions, his fundraising/data management company. The experience the Libertarian Party of Nevada has had with Brett may offer a broader perspective to others in the party who may have dealings with him in the future.
Although I list below many of the reasons why Brett has lost my support, I can summarize them in brief. Brett promised too many things that he never delivered on. We eventually stopping trusting his word, and we could not rely on him working with the rest of our team. When you overpromise and underdeliver to the extent that he has, it can only be described as fraud.
You might agree or disagree with any one of my issues, or even my overall assessment, but hopefully you can at least understand my perspective and how I reached such a conclusion.
Since we are all volunteers, there’s no contract or service agreement to compel our service. It’s just a commitment to the team around you to follow through on what you say. When your word becomes worthless, you’re off the team.
In Nevada, the LPN executive committee works with a team of people to help grow our party. We don’t always agree, but we come to consensus and work together. If an individual shows that they cannot work with others, and that they frequently don’t keep the commitments they’ve made, the team will not rely on that individual. Over the past year, this Nevada “Team” reached the conclusion that Brett could not be counted on to keep his word, and his efforts would frequently be at odds with everyone else.
Although this list is (mostly) in chronological order of occurrence, the events below are not listed in order of importance. For instance, I would argue that item number 14 is the most significant problem.
- LPN website
- Conservative/libertarian internet talk-show website
- Gigantic Email list
- Monthly fundraiser at nightclubs
- 2012 Campaign websites
- LPNevada Spokesperson claim
- Other outrageous declarations - 40 candidates for 2012!
- Other outrageous declarations - 300 delegates to national convention!
- Other outrageous declarations - 21 candidates to run for State Senate in 2014
- 2012 LPNevada convention at the Chameleon
- 5000 square foot office in SOHO, Manhattan - August 2012
- money taken for website for friend
- 2012 Campaign interference
- misrepresentation to Chuck Muth, of Citizen Outreach
1. LPN website - While I acknowledge that he improved the Libertarian Party of Nevada website, he also declared that the initial build was only “stage one”, and that six months down the line would be a “stage two”, and finally a “stage three” that would be greatly superior to the first setup. There was never any “stage two” or “stage three”. Over the past year, there were numerous requests made (by myself or other excomm members) to fix/adjust/improve parts of the website. One example was to adjust the main image on the main page. Stage two should have included replacing the one static image with a revolving series of liberty images. Another example was to modify the blog postings so to allow readers to sort (by author, for example). These were not addressed, and were apparently ignored. One reason why they were not addressed, in my opinion, is that I do not believe he has the ability to make such changes himself, despite being the “CEO of a website design firm”. When I first met Brett, he declared he owned his own website design firm, and was an expert at social media, etc. He had (a year ago) a few employees (who worked out of his home) but in a short time that had changed, and I believe he had no hired tech hands to do such work.
2. Conservative/libertarian internet talk-show website - Last year, he promoted a grand new business plan he described as “just a few weeks from launch”. It was a website that would be a portal for conservative/libertarian talk radio shows. He introduced me to one couple who had their own radio program (internet based) and wanted the Libertarian Party of Nevada to have its own weekly program, with me as host. Brett assured me he would take on a major role in helping to produce the program. He repeatedly declared it was just a few weeks from “launch”.
misc: “launch” - Launch is a word that most associate with NASA, and other major kickoffs that are planned well in advance (months, years, even decades). “Launch” to most people creates the impression that something is ready to run, and that “almost ready to launch” means “we’re very close to release and are only fine-tuning last details”. Brett has used the term “launch” so frequently over the past year that our excomm no longer takes his promises as authentic. Even worse, the project to be launched never gets launched. Often, there is no explanation for its failure. It just seems to be forgotten. A brainstormed idea can be forgotten (“oh well, it was a good idea at the time, but after thinking about it further, it’s not possible”). A plan that is heavily promoted and declared “ready to launch” cannot.
3. Gigantic Email list - Last year he promoted that he had an email list of over 200,000 names (yes, two hundred thousand). This list has never been utilized in the service of the Libertarian Party of Nevada, and no evidence was ever provided of its existence.
4. Monthly fundraiser at nightclubs - Last year he boasted of his former experience in the Las Vegas nightclub scene, and how he knew everyone in the industry. He promised to establish a monthly fundraiser for the Libertarian Party of Nevada at various high end nightclubs in town (ie. Tao). He said he had a liquor sponsor, and that the Libertarian Party of Nevada could earn $8000-12,000 for EACH event. I thought at the time that it seemed wildly unrealistic, but accepting him at his word (I take people at their word until evidence proves otherwise), I encouraged him to get it done. We never had a single event.
5. 2012 Campaign websites - Promise of websites for our 2012 Congressional Candidates. Last year, before we had even nominated candidates for office, we discussed plans for the 2012 congressional campaigns the Libertarian Party of Nevada was supporting. We had two candidates for U.S. Congress (Nevada has 4 districts). Bill Pojunis (Brett’s dad) ran for District 1 and I ran for District 4. Without being solicited, Brett volunteered to produce the campaign websites for our campaigns. Ideally, the sites should have gone live the day of filing. Instead, we entered September and still had no websites for our campaigns! How does “the CEO of a website design firm” not have those websites live? Especially when he is an Officer of the state party? Still, I received almost 4% of the vote, a record for a Libertarian Congressional candidate in Nevada, and helped maintain ballot access for our state party. If my campaign had a strong website up the day of filing, I’m reasonably confident my results would have reached 5-10%. Had I not relied on Brett to get this done, I would have got it done myself. A successful team consists of members who can be counted on to do their job.
6. Robocalls - Some years back, the former (Las Vegas) Clark County Libertarian Party (of which I was Chair for about 10 years) had purchased a computer and robo-dialing software to promote our events and campaigns. Since we didn’t have a brick-and-mortar party office, this equipment was operated from my home office. I had four phone lines installed that were exclusively used for this purpose. After I moved, this equipment was stored (thanks to me) but left unused for several years. Last year, I suggested that the LPN consider using this equipment to promote our party and the 2012 campaign. Brett was vocal in opposition, claiming he “knew a guy” that could make phone calls for just pennies a call. By the way, our old robo-dialing/computer setup could make FREE phone calls (with only the cost of a one-time installation fee for the phone lines, and a monthly phone line fee). I was overruled by the executive-committee (we really do work by consensus, I lobby hard for my position, but defer to my Team). Brett’s “guy” went AWOL, with months passing before he could even reach him. Even then, the plan evaporated and was never mentioned again. He’ll create great sounding ideas, announce he’ll get it done, and then it’ll fade into the forgotten promise-land.
7. LPNevada Spokesperson claim - While Brett had the responsibility of maintaining state website, it was not done as expected. For example, the State Leadership page was not updated for many months after we had vacancies filled. After review by other committee members, it was noticed that the State Leadership page identified Brett as “Libertarian Party of Nevada Spokesperson”, a role he was never given. By default, the State Chairman or his designee is the Spokesperson for the Party. Neither the State Chairman, nor the Executive Committee delegated this role to Brett. He continues to misrepresent himself as Libertarian Party of Nevada spokesman, and he is not even currently a member of the Libertarian Party of Nevada!
Other outrageous declarations - Brett has made promises that sometimes leave the listener incredulous. Here’s a few:
8. 40 candidates for 2012! Last year Brett declared he would PERSONALLY bring 40 candidates for office to the LPNevada 2012 convention. He brought 1, if you count his father.
9. 300 delegates to national convention! Brett told Wayne Allyn Root that he would bring 300 (three hundred!) delegates to the national convention. When I heard this from Wayne, I could only laugh. For those of us with even just a small degree of experience in the Libertarian Party, such promises are laughable. “I will personally bring 40 candidates to the convention” I’m always striving to recruit new people to run as candidates. The trouble is that most people are unqualified, or unrealistic, or uncommitted to the task. To find one quality candidate is a good find. To declare “I will personally bring 40 candidates to the convention” is foolish. I accepted the declaration much like the promise of running monthly high-end nightclub events that would bring in $8000 plus. I said, “Great! Make it happen.” He brought zero (unless you count his father)
10. most recent candidate boast - His most recent boast is to bring 21 candidates to run for State Senate in 2014 and take over the legislature! How about you bring us one good candidate first?
11. 2012 Libertarian Party of Nevada convention at the Chameleon - The Chameleon is an “after-hours” high-end nightclub that Brett secured for us as the venue for our 2012 state convention. He told our excomm that the owner (who was a former business associate of his) gave us the venue in exchange for Brett providing web services for her. Some time after the convention had passed, Joe Hassen (our State Treasurer at the time) had been told by this owner that she had been ripped off by Brett because he never delivered the website he had promised. Brett told us that this venue cost $200,000 a night! I don’t know if this was ever addressed by Brett, but it was another glaring incident that gave me pause. I felt (and feel) the image of the Libertarian Party of Nevada had been damaged by (what I consider) fraudulent promises made on our behalf.
12. 5000 square foot office in SOHO, Manhattan - August 2012 - During the spring of 2012, after the campaign had officially begun (and I had yet to get a promised campaign website), Brett declared he was going to have “a 5000 sq ft office in SOHO”, and that he would be in New York City the first week of August. During the summer (which I spend in New York after my teaching year is done), I made plans to host a Gary Johnson for President - Joe Silvestri for Congress fundraiser. I have lots of family and friends back home who would support the effort. I also try and work with the local Libertarian Party whenever I’m back home. To this end, I scheduled this event for the first week of August when he declared he would be there. Initially, I was thinking we could host an event on Long Island, and one in New York City (at his supposed new SOHO office space). When I called him during the summer to discuss the plans, he had no recollection of saying he would be in New York during August. When I reminded him of this, he said, “I can be there if you want”. I hung up, and shook my head. By this time, I was beginning to have serious misgivings about Brett. Within a week or so, another incident became the “final straw that broke the camel’s back”.
also - does Brett have a Washington D.C. office? - While his announced NYC-SOHO office didn’t come to pass, he promotes a phone contact in Washington D.C. Does he have an office in D.C.? Personally, I don’t think so. But it looks good on an email signature and serves to give the (I believe) false impression that he is the CEO of an powerful national company.
13. money taken for website for friend - The final straw in my re-evaluation of Brett came after a new friend (a friend of an old friend) called me and basically said. “Hi Joe, I’m sorry to call you with this, but I know you and Brett are friends” (she didn’t realize my association with Brett was fairly recent) “but I have a problem that maybe you can help me with. I met Brett at the national convention and he promised to build me a website. I gave him $700 months ago and he has not done anything. I’ve called him and, at this point, I just want to get my money back. I feel like I’m getting the run-around and don’t know what else to do”. I called Bill (his dad) and he told me that she would have her money “by Friday”. That didn’t happen. My friend said that she was told that she’d then have her money the next week, by Tuesday. I called my friend LP California Chairman Kevin Takanaga and expressed my concerns because I had introduced Kevin to Brett and knew that they were friends (and now I believe business associates in Brett’s Double-the-LP enterprise) I expressed my concerns to Kevin (not yet aware of Brett and Kevin’s apparent business relationship). He asked if I had spoken to Brett. I recounted that I had already spoken with his father Bill and that I was content to wait to see if Brett paid my friend back by Tuesday. I specifically asked Kevin NOT to call Brett, but allow him to keep his promise without additional warnings. I believe Kevin did not do that, but that he made sure that Brett refunded the money because he had a financial stake in Brett’s success. My friend was paid back on Tuesday (only after she called Bill who finally arrived 40 minutes late with the money). I was left embarrassed (because a new friend trusted my failed judgement of Brett) and angered that a non-LP related business deal should affect me because of my Libertarian Party relationships.
14. 2012 Campaign interference - A functional team needs to work together. This is why I support the election of a slate of state party Officers who can/will work together. For example, in England, the ruling party in Parliament works together to accomplish their goals. They don’t need to (and shouldn’t) work with the opposition. That is why they are the opposition. Different goals, different teams. While we are all “for liberty”, how we advance the fight is debateable. A successful football team has one play on the field. Each player doesn’t run their own play just because they don’t like the play given. Libertarians tend to hate taking orders, and some have a hard time working with a team because they can’t agree to put aside their own way and work with a group plan. Brett interfered with, and damaged both the Gary Johnson-Jim Gray campaign, as well as the congressional campaigns of the Libertarian Party of Nevada. I’ve already mentioned the non-fulfillment of the campaign websites he had promised. Had he not made such promises, I would have found my own way to get a website up. Instead, trusting Brett to be good to his word, my campaign lost untold votes. Notwithstanding, I still managed almost 4% of the vote, helped our party maintain ballot access, and received the highest vote total ever for a Libertarian Party congressional candidate in Nevada. If my campaign had a live website the day after filing for office (when it should have been “launched”), I strongly believe I would have received vote totals in the 5-10% range. Next time.
More campaign damage - Jared Lord served as State Director of the Gary Johnson - Jim Gray campaign. Jared was selected by the Gary Johnson campaign, and the Libertarian Party of Nevada executive committee worked very well with him. Except for Brett that is. From the outset, Brett campaigned against Jared and stirred up ill-will and suspicious feelings. On numerous occasions he disregarded the organizational chain-of-command and created havoc with events. At one fundraising event for Judge Gray, Brett improperly brought our Vice-Presidential candidate into this unpleasant business. Judge Gray should not have had to deal with any struggles within the Libertarian Party of Nevada. He should have only needed to show up to an enjoyable successful fundraising event, and leave feeling positive and supported. Unfortunately, Brett did not help that endeavor, and only further damaged the campaign. It’s difficult enough trying to run a grassroots organization with little money/resources without rogue players upsetting the effort. He acts like the player who knows best and tries to get the team to run a different play then what the quarterback has called. This is a major reason why the executive-committee was prepared to remove him as an officer. We appointed him expecting he would work with, not against, the team. When his actions became increasingly damaging to the campaign, it became clear. We were better off without him.
More campaign damage - Brett hijacked a Gary Johnson appearance to benefit his Double-the-LP website. Worse still, it took our candidate away from a large group at another campaign event the Libertarian Party of Nevada was supporting. (Nevada Wild Fest - Lili Claire Foundation charity event - big crowds over several days - LPNevada hosted a campaign booth at the front entrance) Rather than helping work the main campaign event for Gary Johnson, he drew support and media attention away from that appearance to his own event.
And Brett’s actual “launch” of his “Double the LP” event was a mini-fiasco, fraught with technical difficulties. I believe the Double the LP website funnels money into Brett’s business, and that seems to be a major motivation for arranging this event at the same time as the Nevada Wild Fest - Lili Claire Foundation event. Brett heavily promoted a celebrity-studded event that touted minor-celebrities (like Reason’s Kennedy and Survivor victor Rupert Boneham). Neither showed at this event, and Brett apparently knew weeks in advance that they would not be present, yet continued to promote the event as if they were attending. This is called fraud. Children call it lying. When you say things you know are not true, that’s a lie. I’ve come to the conclusion that Brett lies to advance his position, and does so frequently. It’s one thing to “puff” a bit. It’s beyond salesmen-puffing when lies are continual, and large. Overpromising and underdelivering to the degree Brett has done over the last year raises serious concerns about trust. I have lost all trust in him.
There are other incidents over the past year that have led me to this perspective that I will not mention here. I am not alone in my assessment, although I will not speak for my fellow Libertarian Party of Nevada executive committee officers, or others in the Libertarian Party of Nevada. They likely share some or all of my views, but you can speak to them personally and get their perspective. In Brett’s national attack on me (emailed to the LNC, and the national State Chairs’ email list), he resigned his position as Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Nevada. In this letter, he declared the I had made “four attempts” to remove him as Secretary. In truth, there was never an attempt. We were prepared to remove him as Secretary, and had discussed this issue amongst ourselves before he had finally resigned. Had he not resigned at the meeting he did, he would have been removed. That would have been the first and only attempt to remove him, and it would have succeeded. Since then, Brett has been trashing my name and the current Libertarian Party of Nevada executive committee, both in Nevada, and across the country. He’s free to do so, and I only offer my perspective here because many in the Libertarian Party know me (if not very well), and have the right to make their own judgements.
Additional thoughts for consideration - Here’s a general assessment that I hope will lend perspective to what has been happening in Nevada. Brett is a self-described entrepreneur. He’s struggled for some time trying to make a successful business come to life. I don’t fault him for that. Most businesses fail. When I first met him, he was struggling to get several efforts off the ground. Within a few months, it appeared that financial support from his investors had dried up (his last few employees disappeared) and he began to see the Libertarian Party as a business opportunity. He would convert the national wellspring of discontent into profit. I don’t oppose making a profit, but your actions and commitment do come into question if they are all directed to that end. Earlier last year, Brett wanted the Libertarian Party of Nevada to award him a fundraising contract. We considered it, and were prepared to sign it (after legal review and some small changes), but we were united as a committee that Brett would have to resign his position as Secretary (we considered it a conflict of interest). Brett refused to resign, declaring that it was not a conflict of interest, and improperly recruited non-Nevada LP members to endorse his demand. Ultimately, the issues I detailed above brought the executive committee to the point of considering his removal. When it was clear that the executive committee would not approve his contract without him resigning his position as Secretary, he declared that he would move to elect a new executive committee. That is his right, but it helps explain his push to discredit me and the current officers.
Offered for your information,
Joseph P. Silvestri
15. p.s. This past week, Citizen Outreach, headed by (small “l” libertarian ) Chuck Muth, issued this startling statement:
Our new co-sponsor - joining Citizen Outreach and KDWN 720 AM - for this “conservative/libertarian” get-together is, appropriately enough, the new-and-improved Libertarian Party of Nevada.
The LP’s Brett Pojunis is taking over most of the management of the event this year and will soon update/upgrade the website, social media, etc.
To review: Brett is not currently an Officer for the Libertarian Party of Nevada, not its designated spokesman, and not even a member as of this writing!
I had to call Chuck Muth to explain how he had been mislead. Sadly, its almost comical, except that such actions do not help us. How much of our energy is wasted on such counterproductive behavior? Brett seems to me much more of a self-promoter than someone genuinely working to promote the Libertarian Party.