CoinWeek Podcast #142: A Challenge to the Minnesota Coin Law

CoinWeek Podcast #142: A Challenge to the Minnesota Coin Law

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Charles Morgan talks to Tom “The Coin Guy” Styczinski and his attorney Erick Kaardal to discuss a new lawsuit that has been filed to challenge a 2013 Minnesota coin dealer registration law. The law was billed as a way to protect consumers from disreputable coin dealers, but in enacting it, the law has had a far-reaching negative impact on the rare coin hobby and serves as a potential blueprint that other states might follow to restrict the growth of the hobby.

To read the legal filing challenging the Minnesota Coin Law, click here: https://www.tcpr.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Complaint-Final-for-Filing-MN-Precious-Metals-9-22-20.pdf

To contribute to Tom’s GoFundMe to support the effort, click here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/fight-for-freedom-to-buy-and-sell-coins

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The following is a transcript of Charles’ conversation with Tom and Erick:
 

Charles Morgan: In this episode of the CoinWeek Podcast, we turn our focus to the state of Minnesota, where a law restricting the sale of coins and bullion has had a major impact on dealers and auction firms in and out of the state. Now, a lawsuit has been filed by one of the state’s coin dealers, which may result in the state legislature having to re-evaluate the statute. We talked to Tom “The Coin Guy” and his attorney, Eric Kaardal, about what brought about their decision to take on the state. It’s a David and Goliath story that you won’t want to miss.

[Theme]

Charles: Hi gentlemen, thank you for joining me on the CoinWeek Podcast. This is going to be a very interesting conversation, I feel. As collectors may know if they follow the news, there has been an ebb and flow of state-level regulations in recent years, as they pertain to the sale of precious metals and numismatic objects. And in Minnesota, one of the most onerous and confusing bits of regulation came into play a few years ago, and it mandated that coin businesses comply with a host of regulations in order to conduct business within the state. Even if you are an out-of-state dealer, you are now compelled to comply if you’re going to sell precious metal products or coins within the state boundaries of Minnesota, or to Minnesota residents. But what collectors may not know is that these regulations have not only impacted the broader numismatic industry, but they’ve also had an immediate and real effect on the network of smaller dealers who conduct business, most of them with integrity over many years inside the state.

So, I wanted to have Tom and his attorney on to talk about how these regulations came to be. He’s definitely experiencing these regulations firsthand and I wanted to talk about how it’s impacted his business, and why he decided to stand up and fight. So, Tom, how are you doing?

Tom Styczinski: I’m doing great. It’s a good day here, and I’m happy to be on the podcast. I can tell you a little bit about how this regulation started. I mean, it had a huge impact on the industry. And I also had a little bit of a background as a volunteer in politics, so it really interested me because it combined both the coins and the politics. So, after I found out just how big of an impact it had on us, I went back and I took a look to see what was the reason for this legislation, and what happened and where it went wrong.

The legislation was originally passed in 2013, and it was spurred on by a number of fraud cases in the Twin Cities. What had happened was there was a very large telemarketer, and they had a customer list. And that customer list was stolen. It can be quite valuable because it has a lot of potential customers or clients, I suppose I could say “marks” [laughs] on the list. And basically, what happened was, a former employee took the list with them when they left and they started using that list and they used that list to contact the people that were customers of the larger company, but they didn’t deliver on the product or they would buy things and they wouldn’t pay. So, they were really committing just outright fraud. At the same time, there were a number of different businesses in Minnesota that were doing this. In a press release that the Department of Commerce and the Attorney General’s Office put out, they had listed four different companies that had done that.

So, one of these big telemarketers actually went and helped write the bill. And one of the things that I think is interesting that happened is, they billed it as consumer protection. But what happened is, they went to one of the very biggest dealers, who I think a lot of people would question their sales tactics, because they would target older people with very much overpriced coins. So, what they did is they molded the legislation to assist them, and the way it assisted them was by making it really onerous for the small dealers and making it a lot easier for them. If you think about it, when you have a big telemarketer with hundreds and maybe even thousands of employees, it’s not that big of a deal to add a compliance guy, and they even already have one. And by doing this legislation, it really pushed out a lot of smaller dealers who it just didn’t work for.

Another thing that it did is, is this large company was based in Minnesota. So, it was worth it for them to comply with the law and to get registered, but it didn’t allow the other– a lot of their competitors, it wasn’t worth it to mess with Minnesota. So, it also helped protect Minnesota for them and to protect that market. Now another thing interesting that happened is ICTA is an organization that focuses a lot on coin legislation. And when this legislation passed, they got together and they got motivated to do something and they raised, I think, over $100,000, and they hired a lobbyist to try and make changes to the legislation. They had a very pure idea, and they had great goals and great objectives.

But they ran into a problem and that was one of the branches of the legislature was controlled by the Democrats, one by the Republicans, and the governor was also a Democrat. The current environment was, they wanted more regulations, they did not want to reduce the regulations. So, they weren’t really willing to move that much. ICTA negotiated some things, and they already knew that I was going to be a problem–the Department of Commerce, that is–because I had already pointed out some issues with the law. And they had actually already started to come after me. And they kind of used this opportunity they had with ICTA to– when they did their trading, they said, okay– they did things that would hurt the smaller dealers, and ICTA’s wins were things for the larger dealers. And I understand that that was probably all they could really get and I think they really wanted to declare victory to show that the money that they had spent was not wasted. But, in my opinion, it didn’t quite go as I think– I don’t think they got as much as they really would have liked to. And from my perspective, it made the law worse.

Some of the changes that went into effect in 2016, there was a coin show exemption and they talked about exempting– You didn’t have to get a license if you only did occasional trade shows. And there was some confusion about that, about what that meant and all the other things, but legally when they’re vague like that, it’s pretty much a blanket exemption for coin shows. We later had a ruling by the state government that essentially said that because of the ambiguity of it. But, anyways, ICTA added a limit. So, you could only do 12 coin shows and it had to be in the state of Minnesota in order to get the exemption. So, that made things worse, for me, personally. Some dealers are already registered, it may not have mattered. And one of the things that they did get though is they got an exemption for the requirement that was for background checks. So, people that work for administrative purposes only didn’t need to go through the background checks.

And if you understand how some of these telemarketers work, what they do is they have a– like pre-screeners. They will put out an ad that’s like a ridiculously low price for something and then they’ll call these screeners. And I did it once, and you could hear all kinds of them going on in the background. So, there was a lot going on in the room. And those pre-screeners were determined to find out how much money you had to spend and other things like that, and then they would hand them off to their pre-sales. So, one of the things that the law that ICTA promoted did was they didn’t have to do background checks on all of their pre-screening employees.

Another change that happened to the law– I think one of the biggest problems with the change that happened was they actually expanded what was covered. In the original law, it was only coins. And in the new law, it was bullion and coins. Another reason for the expansion of the law in that area is, it would weaken a potential case, because the whole reason they exempted– they required the coins and not for bullion originally, is because Minnesota has some bullion bar producers, and they wanted to protect the market for them. So, that was another thing that they changed in the law and that was just purely done to try and reduce the exposure to a potential lawsuit.

After the law passed– I actually fought pretty it hard, the changes, and I actually came within one vote of the State House, which is actually pretty significant because most of the time the leadership does not want to build a pass-by-one vote, because when they allow it to pass by one vote, then anyone can campaign against it and say, “They were the deciding vote.” So, it was kind of a moral victory, but it was kind of hollow in a way. But that kind of leads to where we’re at now. Even though they changed the law, the law was still really a mess and there were a lot of constitutional issues with it. We started this lawsuit sooner, but shortly after I lobbied against the changes to the law, they actually came after me and were accusing me of violating the law.

Another thing that I wanted to talk about this law is how it’s warped and how the Department of Commerce uses it, is really sad, but they’re using it as an extortion technique is the way I kind of look at it and the way I see it. What they do is, they’ll find someone that maybe that’s out of state, and in one case, even out of the country, and they’ll find out that they sold to somebody in Minnesota, and then what they’ll do is they’ll contact them and say, “Hey, we’re going to start an enforcement action against you.” And in the Minnesota law, you’re going to be fined $10,000 for each transaction. And then, the person– they’ll get their company counsel involved. And then, the Department of Commerce will offer him from a deal and they’ll say, “If you refuse to do business with anyone in Minnesota going forward or register, we’ll knock the fine down to $10,000, and then you can be done.”

And the thing about it that’s interesting is, it really doesn’t matter whether or not the company is guilty of doing it– I’ve even seen cases where they fall under an exemption, and they should not have been going after them. But the lawyer is going to say, “Hey, if you fight this, you’re going to be paying $40,000, $50,000 in legal fees. You’re way better off to just settle for the $10,000.” And that’s happened. There’s a long list on the Department of Commerce website of companies that they’ve done this for.

Charles: Let me ask you a question, Tom. When these regulations went into effect, what were the steps that you had to take in order to stay in compliance?

Tom: Well, for me, what I needed to do, I didn’t really have a lot that I needed to change because I was just doing coin shows, and there was an exemption in the law for coin shows. So, there really wasn’t a change that I needed today. Now, to expand further on your question, a company that wanted to become registered, what they would need to do is they would need to fill out an application with the Department of Commerce. They would need to pay for a surety bond. And they would also have some really onerous receipt requirements. That was one of the worst things about the law, is that you had to state on your receipt in grams, like the weight and purity of the coins that you are selling, and you had to do that for every single coin. And in a coin show environment, that’s pretty onerous. And you’ve probably been to coin shows, it moves real fast, and people don’t like it, it’s just not really that practical. And if you fail to issue one receipt, it’s a $10,000 fine.

Charles: So, after they changed the regulation and changed the limit to 12 coin shows, did that impact your business?

Tom: Well, yeah, it did, because I was doing more than that. I would probably do like 16 shows. So, when they changed it to 12, then I had fewer shows that I could do. They also at that same time, though, really came after me. So, they issued a cease-and-desist order. For a while, they just totally shut me out of doing coins at all.

Charles: And you’ve never had your customer mailing list purloined by a former employee to market and scam people, right? And you’ve never taken money from a customer at a coin show and ran away with all of your inventory without giving them their purchase, right?

Tom: It was all telemarketers that were causing the issue. When the 2016 changes went into effect– or, I’m sorry, we were going through the legislature, I went and I testified to the committees and I talked about coin shows because coin shows can have a– I am such a believer in coin shows because you have multiple dealers there, they check each other. If someone’s committing fraud at a coin show, they’re not going to be there very long, and people are going to know about it and they’re going to shut them out.

And the other thing is, so many times, I’ve been at a coin show, and someone’s come up to me with some product that they bought from one of these telemarketers and it was way overpriced. And as a result, I’m the one that had to break the news to them about just how bad it was. Sometimes, they don’t believe you at first, but later they are appreciative. I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s a lot of education that can be done at coin shows.

Another example I think that that really illustrates this trade, it was one of the most memorable moments I had.

It was actually at an antique show, and someone– I had out on my table like gold colorized state quarters, but I had just a little bit over face value for them. It was something that I had purchased when I bought a whole collection. And this lady comes to me and she looks at it and she sees the price and she’s really stunned to see how much it’s really worth. And then, she tells me that she recently bought five of these, and I don’t remember the price she paid, but it was crazy. She said she bought it as an investment, to give as gifts. And I was just like, “Oh, man,” inside of me, “Oh, how do I tell her that she was just really taken?” And then, she looks at me and she says, “I’m still within my 30-day moneyback guarantee period. Should I return them?” And I just like felt so good, I’m like, “Yes, yes, please return these.”

I tell this story to illustrate just how important coin shows are to educating individuals and customers. To sum up, I guess what I’m saying about the legislation is it may have gone in with good intentions but unfortunately, some of the less savory people in our industry got hold of it and started using it to hurt customers instead of helping them. And I guess that’s really what bothers me most about what’s happening and what’s going on.

And I also did some research. And in that research, I found that there were a lot of problems with the way they wrote it and it didn’t fit the Constitution, frankly. It was illegal, what they were doing. I think they knew it, but they counted on the fact that it just wasn’t worth anyone to challenge it. But I, for a long time, knew Erick Kaardal, who’s my lawyer and representing me in the case here, that we’re suing the state to get this declared unconstitutional. I’ve known him for many years. And I contacted him, and he specializes in suing the government in cases like this. And he agreed to represent me so we can do something about this injustice.

Charles: So, Erick, what do you see is the main legal problem involved with this regulation and the way it has impacted commerce within Minnesota?

Erick Kaardal: Right. Tom has done a very good job of explaining it from the dealers’ perspective, but from the consumers’ perspective, which also is obviously part of the dealers’ perspective, we need to see how Minnesota’s laws have isolated Minnesota from the global market for bullion coins and bars. In Minnesota, if you buy or sell $25,000 in bullion products or investments, even in your IRA in a year, so that means you aggregate the transaction. So, if you have five $5,000 transactions, maybe you buy-sell, you buy-sell, buy-sell, maybe never have more than $10,000 in your account, you’re required to register and post a surety bond and if you don’t, you’re liable for a misdemeanor crime. So, the dealers don’t want to work in Minnesota anymore, because who would want to induce customers to commit crimes? And so, this is an example of the government perhaps having good intentions, but creating a mess. The cure is worse than the illness.

Now, we go forward– Now, the $25,000 also applies to what they call the precious metals, silver, gold, platinum, palladium, or precious metals. And we point out, well, what about rhodium and copper, those are sold both in rounds and also in bars? And so, there’s this definition of dealer, which means anyone who buys or sells an aggregate $25,000 in bullion products or investments is liable to register and have a surety bond. And as you have already mentioned the 12 trade shows applies to Minnesota trade shows. But if you go to one, you’re Minnesotan, you go to one trade show or state or multiple trade shows and you aggregate $25,000 of purchases and sales out of state, you’re required to register. If you don’t, you’re a criminal.

And so pretty much what’s happened here is the state of Minnesota has criminalized customers buying and purchasing gold bullion, silver bullion, other precious metals, coins, and bars, and it’s really outrageous. It’s constitutionally outrageous. And if that weren’t so bad, as we all know, the federal government has already protected the purchase and sale of US Mint coins, US money. And so, the state of Minnesota is flipping the finger at the federal government as well because the federal government said, “Leave these US Mint coins alone.” And so, it’s outrageous. It’s sort of typical for Minnesota. Government does really awful things, but says, “Oh, we’re trying to do a good job.” And then, the people give them a pass. But Tom and the other clients aren’t willing to give the government a pass, because the government’s just hurting too many people. I mean, you can’t make everyone a criminal for buying and purchasing bullion coins and bars.

Tom: Oh yeah, I thought that was well said, Erick. And it’s true, Minnesota is one of the worst states for this kind of government overregulation. I think, Erick, picked a good state to have a practice of suing the government. [laughs]

Erick: Well, I think what happened, Tom, is you came to me with a problem, and then I started listening to you and, “Really? Really?” Then, the government sued you under these crazy laws, and then we got involved, and we got more and more information about how the Department of Commerce viewed it. And when you were done with your litigation against you, we looked at it and we said, “God, this is horrific.” Minnesota, you can’t even buy and sell coins without committing a crime if you don’t post a surety bond, register, and meet all the other requirements. And that applies to silver, gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium, copper, you name it. Really, the government’s gone too far.

And I agree with Tom’s analysis, with respect to how the legislation was made and so forth. And I know there are excuses in there, maybe there’s some good people who didn’t want to violate federal law and didn’t want to criminalize the purchase and sale of gold and silver coins in Minnesota. What happened was that people were hurting. What’s amazing is that the Department of Commerce is willfully enforcing this unconstitutional law. It’s like, “Okay, government, we’ll give you the negligence,” but then insist on negligently implementing the unconstitutional law. It’s like this willfulness involved.

And so, yeah, the Department of Commerce is doing its best under this law, to isolate Minnesota consumers from the global market for bullion coins and bars. And it’s outrageous. When you think about the people who are moving in their IRAs what they call bullion products or investments, the Department of Commerce is enforcing this law with respect to them. And so, yeah, maybe they’re nabbing one person here or one person there, but everyone’s a criminal who’s dealing with bullion products or investments because that’s what the law says.

It’s one of those laws that covers everybody, and no one really expects the government to force it against everybody. But if I were a dealer, I would not want to do any purchase and sales in Minnesota, because I might be the one selling the coin that puts that customer over $25,000 aggregate purchases and sales that year. And how are you going to feel about that? Turning someone into a criminal. And I know, Tom, you’re reluctant because you want people to solve the law. But what do you do? Let’s say legislature, and they think it’s working great isolating Minnesota’s market from the global market, so you’ve got to file a lawsuit, I guess.

Charles: Tom, why specifically did the state of Minnesota go after you? What was your infraction that led them to pursue litigation?

Tom: I’ll tell you what it really was first. I had actually been quite vocal about my opposition to this law and I would post things on the PCGS message board critical of the law. And then, they came after me for that. And one of the things is the original law said occasional trade shows or whatever. And then they issued me a subpoena and they asked me a bunch of questions about how many trade shows do you do? And they asked me a bunch of other questions, and I came back– there’s a lot of undefined terms and very ambiguous language in the law. So, I came back, and I said, “I need you to explain to me what this term is.”

For example, “consumer”. They said the consumer is what– you have to tell us how many transactions as a consumer did you have. But yet they didn’t define “consumer”. And then when I asked them, they said, “’Consumer’ is, look in the dictionary.” And the dictionary said that a consumer is someone who buys something for the purposes of personal use. And well, that never fit for clients because whenever someone buys a coin, they aren’t going to consume it, they’re going to actually use it. And the other thing is, is the law had a line where it talked about buying and selling from a consumer.

So, there’s really no way for me to figure out how to answer the questions that they had. And I brought this up, and they said, “Oh, you got to answer them anyways.” And I was like, “I don’t know what to do.” And then, I also read through the laws on the subpoena that they gave me, including the information that they gave right with that subpoena. And in the instructions, it said that I can exercise my right not to answer. And if I do, they can force me to answer. But if they force me to answer, they have to give me immunity from all crimes. Since the law was so ambiguous and there were actual criminal charges potentially hanging over my head, I didn’t answer their subpoena.

So, they let it fly for over a year, but then after I went through the legislature and complained about their law, they kind of resurrected it. And then what they did, they issued a cease-and-desist order against me and they told me I couldn’t do coins anymore. That’s when I actually engaged Eric. I had actually had some conversations before this about the law. But then, I actually engaged him to represent me in that case, and we actually beat them because the law was so ambiguous about what it meant. The judge ruled and granted me a– I guess, they call it a temporary restraining order. And they said, “Hey, you can go ahead and buy and sell coins as the case continues.” So, it granted me– the judge basically said, “You’re probably going to win, so you can go ahead and do it now.”

And after I won that injunction against the state, they just dropped everything. And I pretty much knew they would, because they had no evidence at all against me. But it took quite a bit of time to do that. And that’s one of the reasons that we weren’t able to really file it sooner. So, it was effective in their perspective of just delaying everything.

But then, on the other hand, as Erick had said earlier, it also opened both our eyes to just how bad the law was and just how the Department of Commerce was acting and abusing the law, frankly, because they would ignore what it says. They would come up with some crazy theory that it means this and then, I look on the website, and they’re doing that with all kinds of different customers. Like going after– I think maybe that’s why they wanted the law written so ambiguously to begin with because they can pretty much interpret it, because it’s so confusing, any way they want.

Charles: So you firmly believe that they pursued litigation against you based on your posting on the PCGS message boards and being a vocal opponent of the law, and that they used your opposition to the law as the basis to send you a legal document requiring you to answer questions about how you conduct your business?

Tom: Absolutely. Yeah. And as a matter of fact, I can time– when they took an action, it was like right after I did something, they would immediately come back and do something. And they admitted in the discovery that we got that they had Google Alert set up. If anyone mentioned the Department of Commerce, their investigators knew about it. So, they knew that. And here’s another thing, I had posted something online and I was explaining to folks about how coin shows were exempt because there was some confusion about the language in it. And the very next coin show, they found out about it and they actually sent one of their investigators to come after me.

It was clear they were targeting me. The reason it was so clear that they were targeting me is the guy only came to me. He didn’t talk to any other dealers and say, “Hey, how many coins shows are you doing?” Didn’t talk to anyone else, just came to me. And they recorded it all. And they had to give us that recording as part of discovery. At the end of the recording, he said– I’m trying to remember the exact words, but it was like, “Somebody is putting out an insurrection,” which obviously meant me, “but we’re not here to get registered.” And he was essentially admitting that they’re targeting me. It is not like everyone’s out to get me, they actually were. [laughs] Then, we came up with evidence of that as part of the discovery.

Erick: Right. And Tom got tied down in a couple years of litigation with the Department of Commerce including an administrative proceeding and a lawsuit. And he kept a good attitude, paid a lot of fees, defeated the government in both forums, and the Department of Commerce eventually gave up. And so, then we turn around here, and Tom has the wherewithal and the persistence to see that this needs to be cleaned up for the state of Minnesota. And so, it’s really a significant effort by Tom to do this, because Minnesota needs to be reintegrated into the global market for bullion coins and bars. And right now, we’re isolated by this crazy statute that no other state government would entertain. Plus, it violates federal laws I mentioned with respect to US Mint coins and US money.

Charles: What would you say the legal reasoning of your argument is, and what are you seeking as a remedy?

Eric: If you read the law, anyone who in aggregate buys or sells $25,000 in bullion products or investments as a dealer has to register, post a surety bond, meet all sorts of requirements. And so, you’d be crazy if you’re a dealer in Minnesota dealing with Minnesota customers, or out-of-state customers, or your out-of-state dealer dealing with Minnesota customers, because of this poor definition of dealer, which includes really consumers and investors. Everyone’s a criminal who engages in aggregate $25,000 of purchases and sales in a year. That’s a top-line type of deal because you’re making everyone a criminal. And Minnesota should not be sui generis in this way, I mean, different than all the others. Everywhere else selling US Mint coins, gold bars, silver bars, platinum, palladium rounds and bars or whatever, it is legal. Here, it’s only legal, if we get to that $25,000 threshold if you register and post a surety bond to do these other things.

And so, people who are in their IRA accounts, moving between stocks and bullions products or investments, they have to register, and when they don’t, they’re criminals. The biggest concern is that these ordinary transactions regarding US mint coins, gold, silver, platinum, whatever, rounds and bars, that these routine transactions become criminal in Minnesota. And that’s bad for Minnesotans, it’s bad for the nation. It’s bad for people who view these bullion products and investments as an alternative to banks, an alternative to stocks. It’s really bad. Minnesota has targeted bullion products or investments for a crazy regulation that criminalizes transactions. And so, no wonder why out-of-state dealers won’t do business in Minnesota. But the problem there is that they don’t maybe even know that someone in Minnesota is dealing in an IRA with them because you don’t necessarily know who you’re investing with or selling or buying when you’re an IRA transaction, you only find out after the transaction.

So, it’s really scary. It’s horrific as a lawyer suing the state of Minnesota and kind of accustomed to Minnesota basically terrorizing its own citizens. So, if I were a person who is considering the buying and purchasing bullion in Minnesota, I would probably move and then find an out-of-state dealer, like move to Wisconsin because if you’re in Minnesota, you’re in harm’s way if you hit that aggregate at $25,000. And I just wouldn’t do it. I can’t recommend anyone commit a crime. And so here, I’d have to recommend that people not commit a crime. So, if you’re going to live in Minnesota do an aggregate of $25,000 of purchase and sales in a year, don’t do it, because it’s a crime.

Charles: Right. $25,000, I mean, that could be 10 bullion coins, hardly much of a threshold for a dealer. I don’t know how you could be a dealer and only have $25,000 worth of inventory.

Erick: Right. And many investors, as you know, have more than $25,000 in inventory, and it’s constitutionally absurd to treat those people the same way. So, I have $25,000 or more invested in my IRA, then you have a dealer with $250,000 inventory. Well, they both have to register, post surety bonds. And then there’s the problem of that, even if you are registered as a dealer, you shouldn’t be inducing your customers into crimes.

Charles: Is there any way to know what the overall economic impact has been on the coin or bullion industry in Minnesota since the regulation has gone into effect?

Erick: Well, Treasure Island Coins, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit won’t do business here anymore. And as you know, the trade magazines say that a lot of the out-of-state dealers won’t do business in Minnesota, because registration law is so screwed up that they don’t want to be involved in criminal activities. And the way that the Attorney General and Department of Commerce have been litigating these things, you’ll get a conspiracy to violate the law. I mean, basically, that’s the approach they took in Tom’s case is that he was conspiring to circumvent the registration requirement. But the point is, if it’s a crazy law, there’s not going to be compliance. And so, we need to find a way for the Department of Commerce to understand that you can’t criminalize the purchase and sale of coins or bullion, and you have to change the law. This is over 20 years’ experience in Minnesota, the last thing a Minnesota government agency says is that we made a mistake. So, Tom’s raised these issues to them. I’ve raised these issues to them. We’re going to file a lawsuit. And rather than change the law, they’ll just go ahead with the litigation, proving again that Minnesota’s government is for itself, not for the people.

Charles: Are any other dealers or companies a party to your lawsuit?

Tom: Erick had mentioned that Chris Olson from Treasure Island Coins, he is also a party to this. And I also opened up a– I started a new organization. Now, I don’t know, you’ve probably never heard of– There’s an organization called the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. And what they do is, whenever someone tries to interfere with buying and selling a comic book, that organization is there to help defend the rights of the people in that industry. And what I did is, I started a company called Numismatists United Legal Defense Fund. I call it NULDF for short. What that organization is also a party to this lawsuit. Basically, what I’m hoping to do is, I want to start an organization for this lawsuit, and part of this, but it would really be good, I think, if after this is all done, we broaden our scope even more and start acting like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is.

And I’d really envisioned where if anyone has problems with a government interfering with their rights to buy and sell coins, that this legal defense fund is there to help protect their rights. Like in the comic book thing, if some little itty-bitty, Podunk town, in the middle of nowhere tries to interfere with someone’s right to buy a comic book, this organization is that Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is there. And I would really like to see an organization of numismatics like that. And that’s what I’ve started. And I’m hoping that once this lawsuit is completed, that we can even expand the scope and be more like them.

Erick: Yeah, I want to mention that in my experience over time, it’s really strange, but I think your audience will appreciate it, that in the battles that I’ve engaged in the government, I find that the big banks, big retailers, big, big businesses generally aren’t very useful. When it comes to unconstitutional conduct of the government, they never quite prioritize it highly. And so, it’s not surprising me that Tom and his small business is leading the fight against the isolation of Minnesota’s coin and bullion economy from the rest of the world. It’s just typical. A small business stands up– I won a lawsuit on behalf of landlords against Minneapolis St. Paul, this year, it was small landlords suing up the large landlords. It was about requirements regarding providing voting information to tenants.

So, similarly here, Tom is taking out a huge enemy, but you have to ask, “Where are the big companies? Why aren’t they protecting consumers?” And it’s a real lack of corporate leadership, a real lack of interest in protecting people. And so, you see, these little businesses like Tom says, look, we got to save this country. We got to save the state. I mean, we can’t allow Minnesota’s market for bullion coins and bars to be isolated from the global market. And so, it’s looking out for the little guy, if you will, and if anything, anything would be looking out for the little person is looking out for their purchases of bullion coins and bars. And this is a traditional investment vehicle for people who don’t trust banks, they don’t trust stock markets, so forth. That is exactly why the government continues to print US Mint gold bullion coins and silver coins and so forth. It’s because people need an alternative investment from the stock market and the banks. And so, I think that Tom is in the right place at the right time. And this is a huge and significant lawsuit.

Charles: How can people follow this lawsuit as it progresses through the legal system? And what can people do to stay informed and support you as you challenge this law?

Tom: Yeah, I’ve set up a GoFundMe page and it’s titled, “Fight for the freedom to buy and sell coins.” And basically, what that’s going to do is, is help us with some of the expenses for the lawsuit. Erick has very generously agreed to do it pro bono, I guess, is the way you’d call it. But we’re still going to have some expenses and we could certainly use the help for that. It will also allow you to follow it because I will be posting on the GoFundMe pages updates.

I also have a Facebook group that I started. It’s a private group. So, if you want to join, you can send me a friend request @TomStyczinski and then I’ll invite you to the group. I’m going to keep posting on that. And that actually is the group that’s actually parties in the lawsuit, so you can also participate and join in the lawsuit in that way. Yeah, and again, that’s @TomStyczinski. My last name is S-T-Y-C-Z-I-N-S-K-I. And send me a friend request on Facebook.

Erick: Right. Charlie, the goal right now for the GoFundMe account is to raise $3,000 to cover expenses. So, we’re hoping that the industry can dedicate $3,000 to decriminalize purchasing and selling coins in Minnesota.

Charles: Great. Well, I appreciate you guys taking the time to talk. And Tom, you’re a brave person to stand for principle and go against the state in this regulation. I wish you guys the best of luck in your efforts and I do hope to see Minnesota return to the fold as a state where coin dealers want to do shows and want to do business, and I hope that happens in the near future.

Tom: Yeah. Thank you so much. It’s really been a pleasure being a part of the podcast.

Erick: Thank you so much.

Charles: All right, guys. Have a great week and take care.

Tom: Yeah. Thanks so much. Charles, I appreciate it.

* * *

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