Nick Stafford had 300,000 pennies and retribution burning in his soul. He was getting even with the Lebanon, VA Department of Motor Vehicles.
Most of us have had a bad run-in with the DMV, Stafford included. He just decided to do something about it.
Stafford’s disagreement came down to sales tax on two new cars, including his son’s new Corvette, reports the Herald Courier. In September, according to Stafford, he was trying to license his son’s Corvette and wanted to know which of his four houses in two Virginia counties he should use.
Looking for answers, he tried to call the Lebanon DMV and was transferred to a call center in Richmond instead. Then, he submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for a direct number to the Lebanon DMV, which he got. Calling that number, he was told that the line wasn’t for the public, though he eventually got his licensing question answered.
After that, he wanted the direct numbers to nine other local DMV offices. The Lebanon DMV employee allegedly refused to provide them. That’s when Stafford went to court. He filed three lawsuits: two against specific Lebanon DMV employees and one against the DMV.
On Tuesday, the suits were dismissed at the request of the state “when a representative of the state’s attorney general handed Stafford a list of the requested phone numbers in the courtroom.”
But for Stafford, it was never about the phone numbers. “If they were going to inconvenience me then I was going to inconvenience them,” he told the Courier. “The phone numbers are irrelevant to me. I don’t need them. I told the judge ‘I think I proved my point here.’
“I think the backbone to our republic and our democracy is open government and transparency in government and it shocks me that a lot of people don’t know the power of FOIA.”
Of course, there is still the matter of paying the taxes for the two cars. Here’s how it went down:
After collecting the hundreds of rolls of pennies he needed, he hired 11 people to help him break open the paper rolls with hammers Tuesday night. It took four hours and he paid each person $10 per hour, costing him $440.
Stafford also purchased five wheelbarrows to deliver the pennies. The wheelbarrows cost $400, and he wasn’t going to dump the coins on the DMV’s floor, so he left the wheelbarrows there, bringing his expenses to $840.
He also paid $165 for the three lawsuits, which means he spent $1,005 to get 10 phone numbers and the satisfaction of delivering 300,000 pennies. Not to mention the nearly $3,000 he paid the DMV for the cars.
The pennies collectively weighed about 1,600 pounds—a little more than an Ariel Atom. Since pennies are legal forms of payment, Stafford is well within his rights to have paid in such a manner. The Lebanon DMV employees—the good sports they are—reportedly aren’t “mad” about counting the coins.
Sure, everything went the way it was supposed to, but you can’t help but feel like there was a clear winner in this situation.