ClintonKaine.com Pays Off For Domain Squatter

Aug 17, 2016
Originally published on August 17, 2016 8:18 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Until a few days ago, if you visited www.clintonkaine.com, you'd find a story.

JEREMY PETER GREEN: Timartinus (ph) Kaine - he would help Hillary vanquish Don Marvolo Trump, known in popular parlance as He Who Must Not Be Elected.

GREENE: That's the author of this story, Jeremy Peter Green - no relation. Green bought the domain clintonkaine.com in 2011 for $8. He's been using this site to showcase his "Harry-Potter"-themed political fan fiction. But when Hillary Clinton picked Tim Kaine as her running mate, Green thought maybe he'd sell the domain for, say, 90,000 bucks. He's a lawyer who has dabbled in other professions like domain squatting.

GREEN: I was an autograph dealer in college for extra spending money. So I was already pretty into the practice of speculating on which candidates were going to be big on the national stage.

GREENE: Like, you would sell autographs by famous people, like athletes and...

GREEN: Yeah, athletes and politicians. But the only politicians who are worth anything are the people who are likely to be president or vice president.

GREENE: Don't tell that to members of Congress (laughter). They might think that they're worth something.

GREEN: Generally, politicians are worthless.

GREENE: OK, so you're selling autographs, and you kind of get the idea that maybe buying some domains might make you some money.

GREEN: Yeah, and I went to the unveiling of the - the Democratic Party's D-with-a-circle-around-it logo back when Tim Kaine was the chairperson of the Democratic Party. I don't know, I just got good vibes from him. I got a free T-shirt as well with the D on it. And at that time, it just seemed like a good idea to pick that domain up.

GREENE: And then what happens? Hillary Clinton picks Tim Kaine, and you're like, this could get me some needed cash?

GREEN: Yeah, yeah. It was - I was very, very happy, very excited when she picked Tim Kaine. I'd been nervous the weeks leading up to it.

GREENE: So do you support Hillary Clinton?

GREEN: Yes, I do.

GREENE: OK. What was your plan to do with the site? I mean, you wanted to sell it for some cash?

GREEN: Yeah, yeah, ideally. I'm pretty broke these days - or I was until a couple days ago. But I - you know, I live in a basement. So by the time this choice came around, I was living on credit card debt. So this was a huge break for me, actually. So I decided to reach out to the campaign first to see if the Clinton campaign wanted to buy it before I started talking to other buyers.

GREENE: And what was your offering price?

GREEN: I was willing to go as low as 10,000 if they had even tried to bargain with me.

GREENE: You were willing to go 10.

GREEN: For Clinton, yes.

GREENE: And, well, did the campaign get back to you?

GREEN: I had a three-minute phone conversation with someone pretty high up in the Clinton campaign. And she offered me $2,000.

GREENE: Two-thousand dollars.

GREEN: Yeah, it was so sort of shockingly low, I didn't even really know how to react.

GREENE: So now you said that you were pretty broke until recently. You've now sold the domain.

GREEN: That's right.

GREENE: For how much?

GREEN: For 15,000.

GREENE: And who was the buyer?

GREEN: All I had was an email address. And they turned out to be the web marketing company that the Trump campaign uses.

GREENE: Do you regret that it landed in this marketing company's hands?

GREEN: No, not really. I mean, it's just 15,000 less dollars that the Trump campaign has.

GREENE: What would you tell a big-time Clinton supporter who said, Jeremy, how could you do this? How could you put your own finances above - I can see them saying above your country, if they believe that Hillary Clinton is the right choice for president?

GREEN: I mean, I went to Hillary. They didn't want it. And it's real estate. I mean, nobody's angry at the rich people who own the buildings that the Clinton campaign is renting. And this was purely an ad buy that the Clinton campaign chose not to buy. So I don't actually feel bad about it.

GREENE: Jeremy, thanks so much for coming in.

GREEN: Thanks for having me.

GREENE: Jeremy Peter Green, a lawyer and domain squatter. Now, we reached out to both campaigns for comment. Clinton's team said they do not comment on negotiations with outside vendors. The Trump campaign did not respond to us. In our own research, we found that clintonkaine.com now belongs to a Brad Parscale, who works as Donald Trump's digital director. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.