Saturday, June 01, 2013

Q & A With Jay Stamper... The South Carolina Democrat Challenging Lindsey Graham

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You always know when someone is a DCCC candidate if you get into a Q&A with them. The DCCC candidates don't A the Qs-- not if they're substantive, let alone controversial. Jay Stamper isn't running for a House seat, so he'd never have any chance to be brain-washed by the DCCC anyway. Instead, he's running for the U.S. Senate seat that Lindsey Graham is holding in South Carolina. Jay is an outspoken, very independent-minded guy. He really does represent the best of his state's politics. And Blue America has endorsed him. He sat down for a Q&A with us and I've shared it, word for word, below. Please consider helping replace Lindsey Graham with Jay. Even $5 and $10 contributions-- here, on our Senate page-- are welcome... with enthusiasm.

DWT: This is your first run for public office, so people don’t know a whole lot about you. I thought you could share some...

JS: Some info?

DWT: Yes. For instance, are you married?

JS: Yes. My wife Marnie and I were married in December of 2010.

DWT: Children?

JS: Not yet but I have a niece and nephew who would make great fill-ins when we do a tv spot. And we do have two Shih-tzu's named Georgie and Teddy who will never make it into a tv ad. I borrow my mom’s yellow lab Sunny when the occasion calls for a dog that resonates with voters. Everybody loves Sunny and I hope he makes it until 2014 so I can take him on the campaign trail with me. He has a little bit of a weight problem. I joke that he’s 50% Yellow Lab, 50% Siberian Butter Bear.

DWT: I read someone on twitter say you were a scam artist and con-man who cheated little old ladies out of their retirement savings, was run out of multiple states for securities law violations and was sentenced to 120 years in a Nevada state penitentiary.

JS: You forgot the thing about killing Kennedy. I guess we’ve concluded the human interest section of the interview.

DWT: Yes.

JS: OK. I’ll address this point by point, in reverse order of importance. First, it is true that little old ladies were involved. They don’t like being called that, by the way. Second, I have never been "run out of" a state. Or asked to leave. Or even asked not to leave town. I don’t think those things even happen in real life.

(Laughter)

JS: Third, I’m not a scam artist or con-man. Or charlatan, snake oil salesman or scalawag. I am arguably a carpetbagger, but I’m sure we’ll get to that.

DWT: Yes.

JS: Basically, in 2006, I made the colossal mistake of trying to raise investment capital on the internet through a securities registration exemption.

DWT: Federal Savings.

JS: Yes, Federal Savings. I retained securities attorneys to advise me on the possibility of selling what are known as Federal Covered Securities. They advised that I could use short term promissory notes and told me that they were exempt under the 1933 Securities Act and not subject to state registration requirements.

DWT: And you believed them?

JS: Why wouldn’t I? They were the experts. I did read the law and the plain language suggested they were right. So, that’s how Federal Savings LLC was born. We raised about $5 million from investors in 37 states but we were shut down almost immediately.

DWT: So the lawyers are to blame?

JS: They were to blame with regard to being wrong about the exemption. They were securities law specialists and one of the premier firms in the Pacific Northwest. But, to me, it also highlighted how complicated our laws have become to the point that top lawyers can’t even make sense of them.

DWT: Which you’ve already blogged about.

JS: Yes.

DWT: Well what about the con-man, scam artist thing.

JS: Well, I never lied or defrauded anyone and everyone made money except for me. I lost almost a million dollars. So, unless I’m masochistically scamming myself, no.

DWT: Your website looked a lot like a bank website.

JS: That it did. The web design firm we hired to create the website asked me for examples of websites that I liked to use as guidance for the design. I sent them links to a number of sites, including one for World Savings. Unfortunately, they pretty much copied the World Savings design, right down to the piggy bank and the elderly couple walking on the beach. I told them to redesign it, not because I was concerned that it looked too much like a bank but because I didn’t want to violate anyone’s copyright.

DWT: But wasn’t it misleading to call a company Federal Savings, have a website that looks like a bank?

JS: My intention at the time was to give the company a bank-like look and feel, but be conspicuous about it not being a bank. My attitude was “Hey, since I can guarantee everyone a good return on their money, how do we aggressively market this investment to the widest audience.” In retrospect, I was sailing too close to the wind.

DWT: What about the 120 years in prison.

JS: Well, that had nothing to do with the site looking like a bank. One day my lawyer called and said, “Nevada is charging you with selling unregistered securities, acting as an unlicensed broker-dealer, etc.” I was astounded and my lawyers couldn’t believe it because the charges were bullshit. Any idiot knows an issuer doesn’t have to register as a broker-dealer to sell its own securities.

DWT: How did you react?

JS: At first, I was just incredulous. And angry. Even though I wasn’t legally obligated, I was spending money out of my own pocket to repay investors because Nevada had wrongly frozen the bank account we used for reimbursements. Nevada was doing everything it could to delay investor reimbursements and now it was threatening me with 120 years in jail on completely ridiculous charges.

DWT: So were the charges dropped?

JS: They dropped the broker-dealer charge after we politely reminded them that an issuer isn’t required to register as a broker dealer. The other one wasn’t dropped because I guess it was just too embarrassing for them to charge me with all these things and then immediately withdraw the charges. They knew the selling unregistered securities charge wouldn't fly-- under Nevada law, you have to "willfully" commit the crime which I obviously hadn’t because I’d been advised by counsel that the securities were exempt.

DWT: So what happened?

JS: What happened was we would almost certainly have won at trial and the state knew it. They didn’t want the embarrassment of having the charges thrown out or losing at trial but they didn’t want the embarrassment of withdrawing their last charge against me either. They needed to save face. Basically, it was a game of chicken. They didn’t want a trial and neither did I. I wasn’t willing to risk even a .1% chance of spending the rest of my life in Nevada. So they agreed to zero years in prison if I would plead guilty and of course I jumped at the chance. I could have pled not guilty and taken my chances before a "jury of my peers," but as I’ve said, that would have qualified me for an insanity defense no one could contest.

DWT: What do you say to someone who says you’re not taking responsibility but blaming other people?

JS: I would say, on the contrary, I’ve actually taken way too much responsibility. I pled guilty in Nevada to a crime that even the State of Nevada knew I didn’t commit. Despite having no access to the investment proceeds, it was my priority to repay all securities as they became due, including interest. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of my own money on legal fees and to have a forensic accountant reconstruct bank records and track refunds. In all, I voluntarily spent over $1 million of my personal funds ensuring that all investors were repaid. You know, I was extremely cheeky in marketing that website. I take responsibility for that. But, on the whole, I’ve taken too much responsibility and left a trail of happy investors in my wake.

DWT: OK, on to a different topic.

JS: OK.

DWT: Anonymous detractors of yours claim on social media that you’re a carpetbagger from Seattle who moved to South Carolina just to run for Senate.

JS: I was born in Spokane, Washington. I’ve lived all over the country, Washington State, California, and now South Carolina. I went to college in Connecticut, lived in Boston, my dad’s a New York native, my parents lived in Idaho, where I spent summers working on a ranch, I was a ski instructor in Colorado and lived there right after college. I worked for Pro Air, based in Detroit, hometown of my grandfather. My ancestors are all either Irish immigrants or from Michigan by way of Kentucky by way of Virginia. I started The Delaware Company, which I later sold to a company in Wisconsin. I’m not sure there’s a single place in the U.S. where I wouldn’t be considered a carpetbagger. The way I respond to the term is, so what if I am? I’m committed to South Carolina and we’ve chosen it as our home. Voters want someone who will stand up for the people here in South Carolina, not someone who lives in Washington D.C. and stands up for the special interests that give him millions of dollars. By the way, Southern charm and hospitality are not myths; I’m constantly amazed by how friendly and welcoming people in Columbia are.

DWT: Are you worried that these issues will hurt your campaign?

JS: It’s part of politics. I knew when I filed my candidacy that Lindsey Graham had an opposition research team that’s like J. Edgar Hoover and Mitch McConnelI combined. I have my issues. Lindsey has his issues. And then there are the real issues. I want to talk about real issues like protecting seniors and veterans from those in Congress who want to adopt the Chained CPI, a real scam targeting the elderly. I want to talk about the trillions we’re spending on wars while our own budget is in crisis. I want to talk about the obstructionism in Congress that’s sabotaging our entire democracy.

DWT: You seem to joke around a lot. Are you worried that people won’t take your campaign seriously.

JS: No, because most of my jokes aren’t funny to anyone except me.

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2 Comments:

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guy actually sounds like a bit of a tool, but Godspeed!

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger Jay Stamper said...

A tool for change! Damn, I just proved your point.

 

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