A few months into the 2012 presidential primaries, a New York–licensed attorney named Jeremy "Pegg" Green made a strange, fortuitous decision: He purchased ClintonKaine.com.
"It just made sense to me at the time," he says. "Hillary Clinton was in contention for [an eventual] nomination, and Tim Kaine was on the vice presidential shortlist."
It cost him $8.
Five years later, Green — a 28-year-old "lefty socialist" and ardent Bernie Sanders supporter — is demanding $90,000 for the domain name. Until "someone from the Hillary team" forks over the cash, the website will feature a series of comic strips made by Green, about a young witch named "Hillary Potter."
Accompanying the comics is some pretty epic fan fiction prose:
"Trump had to be stopped. He had won many followers already with his promise to erect a massive wall to keep muggles out, not to mention his advocacy for the surveillance and persecution of wizards who came from 'impure' wizarding backgrounds. Now Hillary Potter and [definitive Hufflepuff] Timotonous Kaine were the only thing that stood between him and absolute dominance of the wizarding world."
Under federal law, it is illegal to register, and seek profit from, a domain name that contains another entity’s "prominent trademarks." In 2014, Donald Trump sued a Brooklyn man over a series of parody sites (TrumpMumbai.com, TrumpIndia.com, TrumpBeijing.com, and TrumpAbuDhabi.com), which he claimed infringed on his brand, and was awarded $32,000 in damages.
But Green says his ownership of ClintonKaine.com is immune to such laws. "I made the site long before Clinton announced Kaine as her running mate," he says. "Besides, they’d spend so much on lawyers to sue me, they might as well just buy the site."
The political domain squatter
Green is something of a political-themed domain squatter extraordinaire.
"I bought about 180 domains for this election — Clinton ones, Sanders ones, Biden ones," he says. "In total, I’ve spent $5,000 on them. It adds up, for sure."
He’s sold a few of his domains (Cruz2016.com and BidenWarren.com went for $1,500 a piece) but for Green, it’s mainly a pleasure project. "It’s just something I feel compelled to do," he says.
ClintonKaine.com is just one of a dozen or so Clinton-related sites preemptively purchased by Green over the past five years. His others include (but are not limited to):
"When Hillary Clinton selected Tim Kaine as her VP, I was pretty excited," enthuses Green. "I got drunk that night and high-fived my friends."
The art of the deal
Over the phone, Green relates that he is a "Bernie enthusiast" who "will probably vote for Jill Stein" — though he does clarify that if he lived in a swing state, he’d "vote for Hillary instantly." ClintonKaine.com is his way of expressing views about the election, but of late, he’s had doubts about the effectiveness of his political trolling.
"I made Donald Trump Voldemort and Clinton Harry Potter — it’s actually good advertising for her," he says. "So if I don’t get an offer soon, I’ll probably put pressure on [her] by changing it to another cartoon that’s not as friendly."
"Although I don’t want Clinton to lose the election," he quickly adds. "That would suck."
Green says his ideal outcome would be for "Hillary’s people to buy it." But he’s "totally open" to other possibilities.
"There are a lot of entities with a lot of money in these elections," he says. "It could be a PAC. Or a rich person."
Yesterday, Green claims to have received an offer of $30,000 from an "anonymous person" to purchase ClintonKaine.com — but he turned it down.
"Honestly," he says, "I’m not ready to accept an offer that low yet."