ARRL Board Political Disqualification, Code of Conduct, and Censure Activity


Section 3. Any complaint made under this Policy, any and all proceedings of the Ethics and Elections Committee involved in investigating and resolving it, and any outcome of such proceedings - other than a public reprimand, suspension, expulsion or other outcome that requires disclosure by ARRL - shall be considered Board confidential unless the subject of the complaint requests disclosure of those proceedings. [emphasis added]


On November 16, 2017, at an Internet-telephone meeting of the ARRL Board of Directors, Central Division Director Carlson moved to expel Southwestern Division Director Dick Norton, N6AA, for having allegedly "publicly criticized the ARRL Code of Conduct for Board members at a public Amateur Radio gathering by virtue of his characterizations thereof, thus criticizing publicly the collective action of the Board of Directors adopting said Code of Conduct and drawing the Board's collective decision making into disrepute...." When it was pointed out that the proposed expulsion would be in violation of Connecticut law, Director Carlson withdrew that motion and replaced it with one to publicly censure Director Norton. This motion was passed by a majority vote in spite of testimony from five respected participants at the gathering, the 2017 Visalia DX Convention, who stated that this charge was simply untrue.

Considerable uproar from the membership ensued. A good number of other participants confirmed the inaccuracy of the charge, and the League received correspondence from individuals and clubs representing thousands of League members criticizing the censure action and recommending its rescinding. Some of the correspondence can be viewed on

This web-site provides ARRL members with all the Board correspondence that may have impacted the Board's vote. Release to the public is authorized by the League's "Code of Conduct," an early 2017 addition to the League's governance documents, under which the censure action was taken. Note that release has been requested by not only those opposing the censure, but by a director who directly initiated censure actions, a director solidly in favor of the action (see end of June 10 entry), and an officer who vigorously supported it.

The censure action can be best understood by viewing it as one part of a series of recent actions taken by the present ruling subset, or political party, of the Board. Actions have been taken to remove Board members, not by the votes of the membership, but by actions of the Board majority. Correspondence shows that some Board members clearly thought the trial would result in Mr. Norton's removal from the Board, but were stopped only when shown that said action violated Connecticut law.

In the past few years, the Board has effectively split itself into two political parties. The majority group might be characterized as being the Confidentiality Party, and the minority group, the Transparency Party. All actions reported here are actions of the Confidentiality Party taken against Transparency Party members.

All those disqualified, and those who had attempted censure actions initiated against them, have one interesting common root. They have criticized the performance of those League officials whose negotiations with Community Associations Institute (CAI) resulted in the compromise language of the Amateur Radio Parity Act (ARPA).

Note that the present ARPA language has been criticized as being more harmful to HOA-dwelling hams than the present no-special-legislation state by almost all attorneys involved in Amateur Radio antenna litigation. Concern about the present ARPA language expressed by the Board members who were disqualified or had censure actions taken against them is certainly not unique. Many other Amateurs are also afraid of the possible consequences should it ever become law.

Other criticisms have involved the General Counsel's less-than-expected performance on other legal matters and higher-than-expected costs of lobbying activities.

A majority of, if not all, the disqualifications and censure attempts resulted from "ethics complaints" filed by Hudson Division Director Lisenco. Prior to Mr. Lisenco being on the Board, no disqualification or censure actions or attempts appear to have ever been made against Board members by the Board.

League members are encouraged to read the information and draw conclusions based on the evidence. Should they sense a need for change, they are encouraged to work with Directors to implement it, or if the Directors are not responsive, replace them.

"ARRL is a representative democracy -- its members control its policies through the power of the ballot."

Background Information on the 'in-power' group's previous activities including disqualifying K4AC and K3RF and censure attempts at K5RAV and N6AA
Initial Censure Attempt Details of the unsuccessful initial attempt to censure N6AA
Second Censure Attempt Details of the successful second attempt to censure N6AA
After-the-Fact Censure
Defense Claims
Details concerning more recent vague defenses of censure action