LEBANON, Va. — It cost Nick Stafford $1,005 to pay a sales tax of around $3,000 on two new cars – but he says it was worth it.
That’s because Stafford paid the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with 300,000 pennies that weighed a total of 1,600 pounds.
The pennies filled five wheelbarrows, which Stafford rolled into the DMV office in Lebanon, Va., this month. He also paid 11 people around $10 an hour to help him with his stunt by breaking open rolls of pennies. Stafford’s full costs of $1,005 included the wheelbarrows, the laborers, and three lawsuits he filed.
“If they were going to inconvenience me, then I was going to inconvenience them,” Stafford said.
Stafford was upset with the DMV  because its employees would not give him the phone numbers to nine local offices. When he called with the request, Stafford’s call was repeatedly rerouted to a call center in Richmond.
Stafford simply wanted to know which of his four houses he should list when licensing his son’s new car, the Bristol Herald Courier reported. He called the Lebanon DMV but was routed to Richmond. After he filed a Freedom of Information Act to get the Lebanon DMV number and called it, he was told the number was not for public use. Frustrated, he kept calling the number until employees answered his question.
Stafford then decided he wanted the phone numbers of nine other DMV offices, and he filed suit to obtain them. The suit was dismissed by the judge when the state gave Stafford the phone numbers.
“The phone numbers are irrelevant to me,” Stafford said. “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,” he added.
Have you ever wanted to pay the government in pennies? Share your thoughts on his stunt in the section below: