From Felon to Libertarian Presidential Candidate Mark Whitney

Jason Hartman hosts Mark Whitney, Libertarian Presidential candidate, and former felon who won his freedom representing himself. Mark shares his story as a prisoner transitioning into a free man. He later discusses his campaign trail’s suspension as a result of COVID-19. He gives insight into the difficulties of being a candidate and also how to become one. They end the show discussing the future of inflation.

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Announcer 0:12

Welcome to the American monetary associations podcast where we explore how monetary policy impacts the real lives of real people and the action steps necessary to preserve wealth and enhance one’s lifestyle.

Jason Hartman 0:29

It’s my pleasure to welcome Mark Whitney. He is a 2020 libertarian presidential candidate, a former felon who taught himself law and one his own freedom by representing himself and went on to become a millionaire. He’s quite an entrepreneur, amazing story. He’s the founder and CEO of the law dotnet and has two grown sons, one who is autistic and both of his sons are self made. No errs. He’s the former host and producer of late night last week podcast and Mark, welcome. How are you?

Mark Whitney 1:07

Thanks, Jason. I should just I should just stop right here, whichever one to drive safely and go home after introductive

Jason Hartman 1:15

they’re already home.

Mark Whitney 1:18

Bro every.

Jason Hartman 1:19

Now nowadays everybody’s already at home with with a lockdowns. But hey, let’s start off with your backstory a little bit mark. So during the heyday of mortgage fraud, you were one of many, many millions of people who you know who filed some bogus documents whether or gave bogus documents to your lender and you got nailed for it right?

Mark Whitney 1:38

Actually, I was a way ahead of my time. It was 1988 not 2008. I was in my 20s I lived in Vermont, Ben and Jerry’s had just gone public. They started franchising. I was pretty successful entrepreneur. I started an advertising agency when I was 20. But when Ben and Jerry’s came along, I just put everything I had into Ben and Jerry’s. I bought the franchise rights New Hampshire, I borrowed a bunch of money, millions of dollars to build stores all over the place. And there are a couple of years that I didn’t pay my taxes. So I gave banks tax returns that reported what I’d actually made, but I hadn’t filed with the IRS and when the banks got in trouble with the feds, I got in trouble with the feds and the judge gave me a timeout.

Jason Hartman 2:19

So how long was that stay in hotel gray bar. And tell us about that.

Mark Whitney 2:24

Timeout was for three years. But I represented myself at trial because the the at that time I was prosecutor in New Hampshire, New Hampshire wasn’t but then we prosecute about 50 federal cases a year and I didn’t have a federal public defender’s office, they gave me a real estate lawyer. So I decided to represent myself at trial I got convicted on some things. And then when I finally ended up at the Allenwood federal prison camp in Pennsylvania, I went right to work in the law library for about nine months, and ended up having my term of imprisonment declared unconstitutional ended up winning in order for immediate relief. After 452 days, the guy that wrote that order is Stephen Brier, who is now on the US Supreme Court.

Jason Hartman 3:05

Oh, interesting. That’s fascinating. So how was it considered unconstitutional? I mean, you know, there’s bank fraud, you know, assuming the prosecution prove that how did the prison time become unconstitutional? What happened there? Tell us about that.

Mark Whitney 3:21

Yeah, bank fraud in the United States, just because a lot of your listeners actually may be interested in Oh, it’s a strict liability crime, like what Ed Snowden is charged with. So with that, Snowden, what the feds have to show is that he took some stuff, he’s not allowed to turn to the jury and defend himself and say, yes, but I took an oath to support the Fourth Amendment and privacy and so on, and so forth. So in my case, all the government had to show is that the attacker try and give the bank didn’t match what I gave IRS, and that’s actually the crime infecting the files. So that when the FDIC auditors come through, they presume those files are accurate, if they’re materially false, that in the United States as a class B felony, get up 30 years for that. The reason I was able to have my sentence declared unconstitutional is that the judge used a law to send me to prison that was not on the books at the time I lied to the bank so I’m still a convicted felon, but I was able to do myself a lot of good and shorten my prison term dramatically and get back to my family who was on you know, welfare and you know, we’ve lost everything. We’ve already gone through bankruptcy and everything so And ever since then. It’s been a good day.

Jason Hartman 4:27

You know, I tell you something, I’ve done some shows about it, interviewed some people I had them, the founder of families for mandatory minimums or families against mandatory minimums sorry, fam, on the show, I donated some money to them. And you know what, listen, I’m a law and order guy. Okay. But, number one, there are so many laws that everybody everybody is ignorant of a zillion laws because there’s just too many nobody can possibly know them. Number one, I interviewed the office Author of four felonies a day on the show. Yeah. And I’ve done some shows about the privatized prison system. And you know, if you have I mean, I’m all for being libertarian, right. And it’s when I first heard of, well, maybe we should outsource the prisons to a more efficient, you know, private sector sounded good to me. But I don’t think that’s worked very well at all. I think that, you know, you can’t incentivize people to, you know, declare war against other countries, or take away someone’s freedom. That just doesn’t work in my eyes. I mean, you’re a Libertarian candidate. So you tell me that could that work?

Mark Whitney 5:36

I think when the government has a constitutional duty, when the Bill of Rights is implicated heavily as it is when a citizen is in the custody of the government, that that duty should be formed be performed by government actors. The additional layer of having it done by the private sector creates all sorts of civil liberties issues and as you say, it provides an economic incentive for some really bad stuff. stuff, something that we’re all aware of is, you know, refugees and asylum seekers who present themselves at the southern border. We’re all aware of the children being kidnapped and thrown into all Walmarts. But what people don’t think about is the very resourceful people that managed to get themselves to the border fleeing places like Guatemala to get away from the drug cartels that are worn drug incubates. They actually get kidnapped by Border Patrol and thrown into private prisons, where they’re forced to work for free, and that is straight up a 13th amendment violation. And it’s human trafficking because the 13th Amendment says that we shall not have slavery and indentured servitude in the United States. But comma unless you are duly convicted, and these people have been convicted of nothing. But the poor profit prisons, core civic and GEO Group rely on these kidnapped refugees to do all the maintenance and all the work in the prisons in violation of our 13th amendment.

Jason Hartman 6:54

Yeah, well, it really is a way to get a whole bunch of like it’s a modern form of slavery, right? You can, you can basically force these people to work for authentic wages. You know, there’s just too much incentive to have a large portion of the population incarcerated. It’s just the incentives are all messed up now, you know, sadly, okay, well, he Let’s move on. And let’s talk about some other things. You ran for president for four months. And then the pandemic hit and the as you say that the trail women out of the campaign

Mark Whitney 7:31

trail on the campaign trail made it kind of tough, but it was Shakespeare said all the worlds of stage but today all the world is a screen and if you’re doing anything that involves a stage, you know, I was running from behind and if you have 10 campaign arrows in your quiver, and a virus comes along, it takes away nine leaving you only with zoom. You know that even Joe Biden is having a hard time getting traction right now and politics has been suspended. They haven’t announced it officially, but in as a practical matter. That’s really what’s happened.

Jason Hartman 8:01

Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting to see if the elections postpone that might be. I don’t know, that’s gonna be the first time in our history.

Mark Whitney 8:07

That’s not permitted. There has to be an election under our constitution and there will be a new president on January 20. It’ll either be well, there’ll be an inauguration on January 20, for our Constitution. And I suspect Donald Trump will win in a landslide because it’s going to be a great year for incumbents, incumbents love viruses.

Jason Hartman 8:26

Well, okay, who is competition? Is Joe Biden. Are you kidding me? Seriously?

Mark Whitney 8:30

Yeah, that I think that the Democratic National Committee, I think made a choice to tacitly endorse the re election of Donald Trump when they circle the wagons around Biden, because the alternative was Bernie Sanders, and that would mean they’d be labeled a socialist party and it’s not a socialist party. It’s a corporately owned party. It’s owned by wall street. We all know that. It’s like the Republican National Committee is and so they made a choice for four more years of Trump.

Jason Hartman 8:54

Well, we shall see and I think you’re going to be right about that. I think we are going to have four more years of Trump but we’ll see So tell us what you learned by representing yourself in court.

Mark Whitney 9:03

Oh, well, I learned that I love the law, all the best stories I came to learn are in the law books. And I learned the law like a blink and did and like everybody did before they were bar associations by just reading it. So one of the great blessings, love the First Amendment was there’s this case called bounds vs. Smith, where a prisoner brought a lawsuit and said, Hey, we have access to the courts or so to the First Amendment, but we don’t have legal materials. And Supreme Court said, Yeah, you’re right. If you’re going to have access, that access should be meaningful. So as a result of that case, brought many years ago, mental prisons are required to have a Basic Law Library. So every week, a new book of case law would arrive, that’s five or 600 pages. And these are opinions written by judges. And these these opinions are the craziest stories in the world that you can make up. And then somehow it comes to a conclusion and that’s how you learn the law and you read and read And, and you read to learn what the law says. But as you get deeper into it, you get to get to where you can read between the lines. And you get to know these judges. So well you get to go. Well, wait a minute, Dave. That’s not what you said last month, in the case of us versus Smith, most lawyers never have the opportunity to spend thousands of hours studying the law the way I did. And I just love it. I’ve loved it ever since I became good enough at it, that 40,000 lawyers for the last 20 years have been paying to use my software to do their own legal research. So your software, does it help pro se parties like you at all? Or is it I mean, I know lawyers use interests, like they use Westlaw or LexisNexis. But is there some I mean, is there some like unique spin on your software, which, well, what what makes our software helpful to pro se litigants is that it’s affordable. They’re around, you know, 7 million judicial opinions that have been written since the beginning of the Republic, federal and state. So they’re all in there. So you know, we do it. Pro Se litigants that use our software so and then they don’t that they’re not necessarily pro se, they may be using it in to work on their own case together with their attorney who’s helping them with their bankruptcy, their divorce, so their criminal case or whatever is going on in their life or their civil lawsuit. But it’s, you know, it’s 50 bucks a month, so anybody can afford it, and put a really good set of power tools on your desktop, the equivalent database from our competitors would run, you know, 2000 or 20 $500 a month as opposed to 500 bucks a year.

Jason Hartman 11:30

So I can’t remember the number. So don’t quote me on this. But I looked at it, I think last year sometime and it was like there were 5000 people or something running for president, I’m going back to your presidential bid. And tell us what that’s like you had an interesting four months with that right? Give us some insight into this little known area of life.

Mark Whitney 11:55

So the number is about 900. There are always several hundred people around. President this year, about 500 Democrats, maybe 250. Republicans in my part of the Libertarian Party around right about three dozen people, and all those a dozen or so actively running. So in the Libertarian Party, you actually go out and you go to state conventions, and the each at the state conventions, your debate your opponents, it’s non binding, it’s a way for the states to raise money. But the nominee, the presidential and vice presidential nominee are selected separately at a national convention involving about 1100 delegates. And that vote is going to happen digitally. It’s going to happen online this year at the end of May. And I suspect that congressman Justin Amash will be the nominee and then that will be the end of that.

Jason Hartman 12:48

How do someone do it? I mean, why is it that we can’t get more parties and more candidates in these elections? Why is it that the corporate media seems to control the debate stages It’s just silly like our system for such an advanced country our system is is terrible.

Mark Whitney 13:05

Yeah, well, bipartisanship is alive and well and and this happens, this happens at the state level. So the idea of having a third warm body on the presidential debate stages, that pulls out about 85%. But the Presidential Commission on debates is a privately owned organization. And it was set up as a private organization so that we can’t cite the constitution as a way of saying our political speech is being censored. So because they’re a private organization, they get to privately decide who’s going to be on stage and it’s the democrats or republicans working together. The Presidential Commission debate is always staffed by former presidents, former vice presidents, orthodox Democrats, Republicans, it’s really a single mafia that controls our system under the guise of being two separate entities, but that’s not really the case.

Jason Hartman 13:53

Yeah. So is there any hope for any more choices or any change or can you teach someone listening? How to run so that they can make an impact.

Mark Whitney 14:02

Yeah, sure. It’s super easy to to run as a Democrat or Republican that you just fill out. If you want to run for a House or Senate. You fill out a form at the FEC calm it takes about five minutes and you’re running. It’s the same running for president. I ran for president as as a libertarian because I am libertarian in some ways, it would be easier to run as a Democrat or Republican I, I would have I think, maybe more success, but just because they are, you know, because of the treatment they received from the media, but I’m not Democrat or Republican libertarian. And so that is the party that I ran with. And it’s an uphill battle because you know, this is a bad time to be a freedom salesman. My governor here in California Gavin Newsome. This is a state where the you know, the beaches are closed and the 711 is open. And you can have six feet or distance to the 711 but you can at the beach, but he’s pulling at 3% approval and, and we’re going through a period of time where I don’t think there’s a debate as to whether there’s going to be universal basic income, the debate is, how much would be. So that’s a fundamental shift in, in our, our society. And it’s kind of making my head spin a little bit to figure out what, what the new normal is going to look like in terms of the attitude that we should have as citizens. When we wake up in the morning, you know, I, I have two sons who are successful entrepreneurs. And, you know, I’m trying to imagine that having, you know, a couple of sons now, or 14 and 16. And saying to them, you know, maybe we ought to get a part time job or something to kind of see how the world works. And then they go, Well, you know, Why should I do that? And two years ago, I was gonna be sending me $2,000 a month, and I’m going to be all set.

Jason Hartman 15:44

So tell us what you think about what’s coming next. How are we going to come out of this situation? And, I mean, you know, the Government Printing Press is running like crazy, but it’s not just the US it’s every country. Are we looking at an inflationary future? What do you think?

Mark Whitney 15:59

Well, I just think At a macro level, our society the infrastructure and architecture of our society, even though the internet’s been around for 20 years, the architecture is early 1950s really hasn’t changed since then. So I think we’re long overdue, right? So I think if you can easily reimagine the future by just erasing everything on the whiteboard, and put the internet at the core and build out from there and an ever increasing spiral. And over the course of the next 20 years, that’s what life is going to look like.

Jason Hartman 16:27

Well, is that is that your wishful thinking? Or is that your prediction?

Mark Whitney 16:32

No, that’s a prediction. I think it’s a really good bet. Because the people who really run our society, the political class are the people who have it’s not the top 1% I think it’s the people who are in the top 10%. The people who are well educated, they’re professionals. They’re engineers, doctors, lawyers, they’re they are politically active. They’re politically tuned in and what they say goes, and I think a lot of these folks are gonna Well, yesterday, Intel says They’re going to be closed for their offices will be closed for the rest of 2020. The same day jack Dorsey said Twitter employees can work at home forever. So there’s going to be more choices, I think and whether you go to the office or not, there are going to be more choices and whether you send your kids to a school building or not. I think there are incredible efficiencies there economic efficiencies that people won’t be able to ignore, and also lifestyle efficiencies that people are going to embrace. So I think the opportunities for drastically improved society where we’re not wasting time, we don’t nobody should ever have to get into a car to sit at a computer ever. That’s crazy, right? That’s crazy. And college is something that you know, a Bernie Sanders has tried to institute institutionalized college as sort of freeze it in place by making it free. When colleges move for disruption and rethinking everything is everything is right for and I think this virus is going to expedite all this. Yeah,

Jason Hartman 17:58

well, you know, It’s one of my favorite economist, Joseph Schumpeter. It’s creative destruction. And all this does is make it happen faster, which is great. So there’s a lot of good things that will come out of this. I think the housing market, the home is going to become the center of the universe, office space. And you know, obviously, retail is just going to continue tanking. And so those types of properties are in pretty bad shape. Another question is, how are we going to interact as people what’s going to happen to social life and, you know, everybody’s at home sitting on a computer, I mean, that’s already like bad enough. Anybody walking down the street is everybody’s in their own little world. They’ve got their earbuds in. He can’t even say hello to anybody anymore. It’s just a I don’t know, it’s a very isolating technology is has got a lot of very isolating elements. If you go anywhere. People are just looking at their phones all the time.

Mark Whitney 18:52

Yeah. It’s amazing. So as someone who has been a spoken word artist, I’m a competitive public speaker in Toastmasters. I’ve toward the North American UK with one person shows I’m a very accomplished speaker, or I’m very much an introvert. So I’m okay. with, you know, being locked down, I’ve kind of decided that the next three or four years, I’m going to, I’m going to do the writing that I expected. So I’m 61. So I expected to spend my 70s writing, but the quiet really invites writing. So I’ve decided to sort of shift those priorities and sort of spend the next three or four years doing a lot of writing projects that are, you know, taking stock of my creative life, my entrepreneurial life, trying to pay attention on what’s going on. And like you say, I look, I think nobody knows how this is going to land. It all depends on how anxious people are. And I don’t think has anything to do with government. I think the government could say everything’s open tomorrow, and airline traffic would still be 75% down, no one would go to Disney, no one would go to restaurants. And I don’t know how long that will take to play out. And there is going to be a I believe a movement among the political party. To pandemic proof everything. So in anticipation of the next pandemic, and I don’t know what that’s gonna look like from a civil liberties standpoint in particular, you know, I can easily imagine a scenario where government testers are knocking on the door, you know, giving us permission about whether we can go outside or not. And people cheering for that, and that makes me sad.

Jason Hartman 20:22

Yeah, it’s pretty weird. I mean, the First Amendment says we have the right to peaceably assemble, but you can’t do that today. So it’s pretty intense. It sure is,

Mark Whitney 20:32

hey, give out your website or tell people where they can find out about your work. Yeah, Mark Whitney comm mark with a K Mark Whitney calm, and you can see generally some of the stuff that I that I’ve done. It’s a new Mark Whitney calm. I’ve got my show full for a client there which is my award winning political dramedy about the bad old days of fighting the government. If you can watch it for free. You don’t have to even put an email address in or anything. You can see a link to the wall dotnet stuff like that and and check out what I’m working on.

Jason Hartman 21:00

For Mark Whitney, thanks so much for joining us.

Mark Whitney 21:02

Okay, thank you. I appreciate the time take care.

Jason Hartman 21:09

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