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Sunday, 21 April 2024

Young Americans for Liberty Board of Directors FIRES president over wave of sexual misconduct allegations

When alleged victims within the Liberty Movement spoke, libertarian thought leaders listened and demanded accountability

WARNING: the following article contains subject matter which may be disturbing to readers.
  • Young Americans for Liberty removed its president, Cliff Maloney, after multiple allegations of sexual abuse and harassment arose from young women within the organization who posted to Twitter with the hashtag #YALtoo.
  • Since the allegations were posted, multiple public figures in the Liberty Movement have expressed support for the ladies and demanded that the organization properly handle the allegations, which the accusers say were not handled properly before the #YALtoo movement went viral.
  • Liberland Press has compiled some Tweets which explain what allegedly happened, and has spoken with both YAL officials and alleged victims to get multiple sides of the story.
  • Cliff Maloney Tweeted that the allegations are “100% false,” but later deleted his post of denial.

One of America’s most active libertarian student organizations now has one less face on the staff page of their website. Cliff Maloney, now-former-President of Young Americans for Liberty, has been accused of engaging in and facilitating sexual misconduct within the organization.

Several ladies within Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) came forward with stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and rape allegedly committed by officers within the organization. Since then, the YAL Board of Directors has “terminated” Maloney. This decision comes after both Maloney and Vice President of Grassroots Justin Greiss were placed “on administrative leave pending the conclusion of a thorough investigation into all allegations” of misconduct.

YAL Spokeswoman Emma Phillips wrote a lengthy thread in her personal capacity about this issue here, saying, “YAL and the Liberty movement cannot be unsafe places for women. If there’s anywhere in the world we should belong, it’s a movement based on the principles of non-aggression, consent, and personal liberty.”

Phillips spoke with Liberland Press on Jan 27, saying, “YAL takes the recently surfaced allegations very seriously. As such, we are in the midst of a thorough external investigation into all claims, including those against our existing HR process. To protect the privacy of those involved and the integrity of this process, findings will not be made available until this investigation is completed. The staff at YAL looks forward to swift justice.”

Here are some examples of the allegations that were made on Twitter:

Addyson Rae Garner was an early whistleblower on these allegations.

“…once he got her alone, [Maloney] tried to use his position at YAL to extort her for sex at the expense of her good standing within the organization.

The images from Garner’s post say:
“Let’s talk about sexual abuse and lack of consequences in the liberty movement. We can start with one of the more vocal groups, Young Americans for Liberty, headed up by Cliff Maloney Jr.
Ah, Cliff Maloney Jr. He fancies himself the godfather of the liberty movement, but instead of sending people to kneecap the goons who assaulted your daughter, he’ll promote the goons– and maybe help them run for office.
Consent is supposed to be a cornerstone of libertarianism, but consent has been violated by staff members of Young Americans for Liberty for years with little to no repercussion.
Rape. Sexual assault. Harassment. I’ve heard it all from girls coming out of YAL. The ones who speak up are brushed off, gaslit, or fired. Here are just a few examples:
1. Cliff Maloney asked my friend to bring him food after a long day at a conference, and once he got her alone, he tried to use his position at YAL to extort her for sex at the expense of her good standing within the organization.
2. Activists older than me have shared stories of being groped and harassed by a man who still hangs around YAL events. It’s an open secret he’s a creep, but he’s still a friend of the org…
3. A VP of YAL was seen trying to take a blackout drunk girl up to his hotel room at YALCON. Attendees had to physically stop him from dragging her up to assault her. He’s still a VP.
4. A Regional Director assaulted an intern in her bed in YAL group housing and, to my knowledge, never faced any disciplinary action whatsoever.
5. Development staff in the office were comfortable openly discussing what female state chairs (typically 18-21-year-old student activists) they wanted to have sex with. The intern who complained about it was ridiculed and gaslit.
6. Girls I recruited were sexually harassed by YAL campaign coordinators on door knocking deployments. The offender wasn’t fired– just moved to a different role.
7. I was groped by a fellow state chair. The offender was later endorsed for state office, and YAL sent students to door knock for him. When I messaged Cliff Maloney to follow up on the situation, he blocked me. When my husband (another former activist) tweeted at the organization about it, he was also blocked.
Young Americans for Liberty boasts thousands of student activists nationwide and has chapters on hundreds of campuses. You may be thinking, ‘An organization with this many participants is bound to have some bad apples, right? So how does YAL deal with sexual harassment and assault in the organization when it comes up? How does HR solve these issues?
They don’t have HR. At least they didn’t in 2019 when I was groped by my coworker there. With no HR to turn to… I went to the president of the organization. He swore to me that institutional changes were underway and I had nothing to fear regarding the girls I recruited. He would put measures in place to protect women at YAL. Staff trainings and new office policies were underway!
How I wish that were true.
After this meeting, I was sent to meet with a 20-year-old male staffer, who repeatedly and skeptically asked me ‘I don’t see sexism in the office. What ACTIONABLE things can we do to fix the sexism you think you see at YAL?’ right after sitting by silently when a regional director shouted about women being “fucking sluts” and then shouted at me saying I ‘wasn’t a libertarian’ and ‘didn’t believe in free speech’ for telling him his behavior made me uncomfortable. The entire office stayed silent. No one came to my defense when I pleaded with him to stop, just like they ignored it when he decided he was going to call me ‘bitch’ instead of using my name weeks earlier. This problem goes deeper than a couple bad actors.
After my meeting, I regularly followed-up with leadership to ask what changes were being made (a few screenshots are below, but I have dozens more). I asked repeatedly for the protocol and safety procedures regarding sexual assault at conferences, since I was expected to continue recruiting for one and I felt responsible for girls’ safety. Of course, I never got answers on those just like I never heard back about the jobs they’d suggested they wanted to hire me for before I spoke up about my experience being groped by a coworker. My concerns were passed from seemingly uninterested staff member to staff member, and finally ignored.
In the meantime, they sent that same coworker 3 hours south [sic] to MY campus to table with me for an event, knowing what he did and how I felt about it. The fact he’d violated my body and consent meant nothing to my supervisors. I was expendable.
My story is so minor compared to the stories of others, but the details of those aren’t mine to share today. I can only share my experience and my fumbling attempts to make improvements in an organization that had no intention of honoring them. I tried so desperately to fix it internally. I suggested safety and wellness plans. I pitched workshops. I offered to create and step into an HR role to help with future issues. My efforts to protect women and make YAL a safer organization fell on deaf ears. The harassment and assault continued after I left, despite promises that leadership would make changes.
I want to make it clear: these are not isolated incidents. These are the result of corrupt leadership and skewed priorities year after year, as well as the unspoken rule that women who speak out can forget about a career in the movement.
What I didn’t know in 2019 is that the president of the organization had charges himself. Cliff Maloney Jr. had been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment before (see: experience 1) and would be again. YAL would then ‘conduct’ (more likely: fabricate) an investigation to clear Cliff of charges and silence the women involved. Cliff had threatened their careers and livelihoods. I was foolish to think he had any interest in making YAL safer for women.
It grieves me deeply that women are expendable to Cliff Maloney Jr. and to others at Young Americans for Liberty. We as a liberty movement are better than this. We should not have to sacrifice our principles to get results.
What steps can you take?
– Until massive changes are made, YAL shouldn’t get your money or your support.
– Unfollow/unfriend those participating in sexual abuse. Unfollow the organizations fostering it.
– If you’re involved in YAL and this is news to you, ask around. Odds are, you have a friend who’s experienced something similar to me.
– Speak up. If you’ve experienced this kind of treatment, please let someone know. These problems get worse when they’re covered up instead of handled. Believe me, I made that mistake.
– Finally, demand change. If you truly support liberty, you know this behavior goes against every principle we claim to support. Call for the removal of Cliff Maloney Jr., an independent investigation into sexual abuse, and for YAL to be held accountable.
In the liberty movement, we tend to bicker about policy, philosophy, and strategy. But sexual abuse isn’t an issue that’s up for debate.
Let’s work together to make our space welcoming and safe for all, starting today.”

-Addyson Rae Garner.

Ophelia Overton, who has served as a Deputy Regional Director for Young Americans for Liberty, announced her intention to take YAL to court over her own experiences.

Overton wrote:
“In light of recent public statements, I’ve officially decided to sue Young Americans for Liberty for sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and retaliation from president [sic] Cliff Maloney in 2020.
Many of the staff at Young Americans for Liberty were aware of this issue. Awareness was not the problem, but their complicity, and I believe the organization should be held accountable for not taking proper action. I do not have confidence in the efficacy of an internal investigation into these types of claims. I believe that legal action is the only answer at this time, not just for myself, but for all the other previous victims that proper channels have failed.
I do not wish to be silent any longer about my time at YAL.
Ophelia Overton”

Several other young women have shared stories of either themselves or friends of theirs being sexually abused/harassed/raped while involved with YAL.

On Jan 27, Liberland Press spoke with a female source (“Source1”) who worked as an election coordinator during May and June of 2020 for Make Liberty Win PAC (the entity for YAL’s “Operation Win at the Door” campaign efforts). Source1 told Liberland Press the following story about when she encountered Maloney during an airplane trip:

I was on a plane, flying back from DC, and Cliff Maloney happened to be on the same plane as I was. We were both there for CPAC. He was there obviously on behalf of YAL and he sort-of really-friendly-greeted me as soon as I boarded the plane. I tried not to think much of it. And then we got off the plane and it seemed like he was waiting at a table for someone. …he waves at my direction, tells me to come over, and, he kind-of flirts with me. And, I was 16 at the time and it was very awkward. I didn’t know what to do. And then, his mother came over. He introduced me to the mother. The mother did not seem happy at all to see me. Whenever I went home that same day, he started texting me…nothing totally inappropriate, but being very pushy for him helping me [with] whatever I needed help in. He also knew I was 16.


Source1 also told Liberland Press of a hostile work/living environment that was allegedly created by a male co-worker of hers while she was living in YAL-arranged housing during her work with Make Liberty Win PAC:

I was an election coordinator over the summer and I got deployed to St. Louis, Missouri, and I lived in a house with about, I think, ten other men and one female that…ended up leaving. But I just turned 17 and there was another guy at the house. He would bother me and harass me endlessly. I mean, he would wait at the bottom of my stairs, and when I would wake up in the morning to go brush my teeth, he’d be waiting at the bottom of the stairs to say ‘Hi’ to me. He’d follow me. He’d wait outside for me outside of the bathroom door. He’d always follow me. He’d cry every day. [I] mean, he really harassed me endlessly.

And, I never complained to [YAL] Nationals, I didn’t want to get fired. I didn’t want to cause any drama, but, the other guys in the house started noticing, so they actually contacted Nationals. I think a few of the guys reached out to Maggie in particular. And I don’t think Maggie did anything about it. I know she just started a lot of drama and started a bunch of rumors. But I know that we also reached out to DStu [Daniel Stuart], our ED [election director] for the campaign, and he was talking to Greiss about it and they actually moved him to a different house. They told me he was going to get fired, but they ended-up not firing him—they just wanted to push him out, to force him to quit. And so, he ended-up quitting. Like I say, they made the situation really terrible for him, so DStu is great in getting him out of the house, told me they were gonna blacklist him, never gonna hire him again. I was like, ‘Okay, that’s good to hear. Like, thank you.’ And then, Maggie ended-up actually re-hiring him like a month later, even though they promised that he was going to be blacklisted. Like, he wouldn’t leave me alone and he was so scary to the point where two other guys in the house that were my friends gave me pocketknives and one of them gave me a necklace knife that I wore at all times in the house just to protect myself against, like, whatever this guy could do. He literally would never leave me alone and sometimes the other guys would have to get in between us. He’d always be really intoxicated every day. He was always working under the influence of being high or drunk, which would only make him act a lot worse and a lot crazier. I was pretty disappointed with the fact that they re-hired him after they promised me that he would be blacklisted. And, he was another liability to all the other girls on the campaign… for the future campaign. And, they lied to me about that.


Liberland Press asked Maggie Anders, YAL, and Daniel Stuart about the allegations by Source1. Anders responded on Jan 28 with the following statement:

I’m not really sure what she’s referring to if I’m being honest. I only had final hiring power over campus and would never hire anyone who hurt a woman. If I ever approved someone for a campaign who had previously been fired, it was not to my knowledge. We were not kept in the loop about these things and campus staff was not on campaign exit emails where they would detail who was fired and why.

I forgot to add that I can’t personally hire someone for a campaign.

Maggie Anders
Kaleigh Mae Cunningham

Some alleged victims have chosen to remain anonymous.

Maloney denies, then deletes

The former YAL President denied the allegations in a Tweet, saying:

“Allegations against me are 100% false.”

Cliff Maloney

Maloney has since deleted the Tweet, but not before Liberland Press had the chance to screenshot it.

Cliff Maloney:
“YAL statement: yaliberty.org/hrstatement
Allegations against me are 100% false.
Serious accusations and misconduct will always be addressed at YAL.
Character assassinations against a team of liberty advocates who work around the clock for our cause must stop.”

Photo: Liberland Press. (Carrier blurred for privacy).

Despite the appearance of Maloney’s Tweet, multiple insiders from YAL say that his Tweet was NOT a reflection of where the organization stands on these issues. YAL Midwest + Northern Regional Director Tony Guajardo wrote, “the statement from Cliff on Saturday does NOT reflect the stance of me personally nor this organization,” while Phillips concurred, “Adding insult to injury, Cliff made a statement Saturday at midnight on his personal twitter [sic] account, claiming that allegations were ‘100% false.’ This was made to appear as YAL’s official position, which it is most certainly not. I have personally clarified that with the board.”

Maggie Anders indicated that Maloney’s public denial motivated her to share her own story, saying, “Today I reached my breaking point when Cliff denied his own allegations.”

The Liberty community responds

Famous figures, local chapters, and individual members of the Liberty Movement have spoken in support of #YALtoo, including former U.S. Congressman Justin Amash, 2020 Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential Nominee Spike Cohen, Editor for The Daily Wire Cabot Phillips, 2020 Libertarian Party Nominee for Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Todd Hagopian, and former Libertarian presidential primary candidate Vermin Supreme.

Amash wrote, “Recent claims of misconduct suggest Young Americans for Liberty hasn’t adequately or always protected the rights of individuals in its care. As a longtime ally and contributor to @YALiberty, I’m devastated and saddened by the organization’s deficient response to the allegations.”

Amash, who is America’s first Libertarian Party member of Congress, also called for an independent investigation into the matter, saying, “At a minimum, any investigation should be conducted by persons independent of YAL, and anyone accused of misconduct should be placed on administrative leave pending completion. It will be difficult to rebuild trust, but it will be impossible without a full and fair examination.”

Jeremy “Spike” Cohen, running mate for Jo Jorgensen’s 2020 U.S. Libertarian presidential campaign, echoed Amash’s sentiment of the need for an independent investigation, adding, “Sexual assault has no place anywhere. It is a disgusting violation of the autonomy and rights of its victims, they need to be protected and their abusers punished. If it turns out that it has been allowed to fester there, letting that continue creates more harm and more victims.”

Other individuals and local chapters in the Liberty Movement have also spoken up.

Hagopian gave his updated thoughts to Liberland Press on Jan 27, saying, “I believe that Cliff was let go. So, in that sense, justice prevailed to some degree. I have not heard anything else about it at this point. Obviously, it seems like the organization needs to do some house cleaning, and put some stricter guidelines in place to make it more welcoming to women, and less accepting of the frat house atmosphere.”

On Jan 27, American University’s chapter of YAL spoke with Liberland Press on Twitter, saying, “AU YAL was happy to see YAL National take concrete steps following ours and other chapter’s statements, such as removing Cliff Maloney. We are not aware of any specific details of the investigation but this chapter is working with other chapters to demand further action, namely the removal Justin Greiss, one of YAL’s VP’s, who was also credibly accused numerous times. More on that to come soon as we continue to work together on that. We are encouraged by the work so far and hope that justice will in fact prevail.”

David Herbst spoke with Liberland Press, saying that (with these allegations of misconduct) “you want to see a process that everyone can feel happy about.” Herbst added that “the Liberty Movement” has “respect” for fellow humans as an ideological foundation and that the same principle of respect should be reflected in how liberty-minded organizations operate.

“I don’t want to see YAL disappear or fall apart.”

David Herbst

Herbst added that he hopes for the redemption of YAL as an organization, saying, “I don’t want to see YAL disappear or fall apart.”

The aftermath…

Since the firing of Cliff Maloney, Sean Themea has become the Interim President. However, Maloney “was at the controls” of the official YAL Twitter account long enough to block some critics of his, a Tweet by Guajardo shows.

As of the time of this writing, Greiss remains on the staff page of YAL as Vice President of Grassroots.

Kaleigh Cunningham, who appears as “Ancap Tree Hugger,” told Liberland Press that, since the peak trend of the #YALtoo Movement, “The silence around it all recently is very concerning. I have an inbox FULL of people ready to start a new org if all of the bad actors are not removed from YAL.”

YAL Candidate Specialist Justin Maloney, (who claims he is NOT related to Cliff Maloney) resigned. In Justin Maloney’s Facebook announcement, he stated, “My reasons are not completely related to Cliff’s heinous actions but others from the previous 7 months,” adding, “I did not know they were going to terminate his contract when I resigned.”

Liberland Press has reached out to Young Americans for Liberty, Cliff Maloney, Garner, Greiss, Overton, Cabot Phillips, “LiberTay,” “Mantis Girl,” Anders, Guajardo, Amash, Cohen, Hagopian, “Vermin Supreme,” American University YAL chapter, Themea, Justin Maloney, Daniel Stuart, and dozens of other individuals who either are involved with YAL or who made claims of sexual harassment or abuse.

DISCLOSURE: The author of this article is a member of Young Americans for Liberty and a former contractor for YAL’s Make Liberty Win PAC. This article is published without approval from any parties other than the author and Liberland Press.

Jonathan A. McCormick, Jr.
Techie. Entrepreneur. Free thinker. Senior International Correspondent for Liberland Press.

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