It does not please me to make this video. I am making this video out of a sense of obligation. When I transact with an ebay seller, I leave feedback. This is how I believe free people are able to self-regulate. It is because reputation is so important to this idea of self-regulation among free people, that I feel compelled to make this video today.
I have had a negative, some might even call it fraudulent, transaction with Adam Kokesh, and I feel it would be unjust to those of you who may do business with Adam to keep this information to myself.
After the release of my documentary Victimless Crime Spree in the summer of 2012, I received a call on my cell phone from Adam Kokesh. I remember the call well because I was about to drive to the convenience store for a bite, and instead of driving with the phone, I sat in the driveway, watching the sun set as the conversation progressed.
After over an hour of discussion, Adam had described to me his vision of a “Libertarian answer to the Daily Show” starring Adam for his YouTube channel. For my part, he asked if I would be willing to compile a team of writers for this project and commit to at least 4 months of working 4-hour days of 4-day weeks. He explained that in exchange, I would receive half of the revenue generated from these videos in the first month of their airing, plus he would invite me to stay in a room at the AVTM studios. He explained that he anticipated approximately 100,000-200,000 views per episode, which he told me would work out to being paid approximately $250-$400 per week. On top of that, since I explained I am on an “Exile Tour” and focusing on my own projects, I would have weekends off to travel the country. He would even pay my fare to Herndon! (he didn’t).
Boy, this was fantastic! I committed right there at the end of that phone conversation, giving Adam what he called my “Verbal Handshake” on that agreement. Why should I have anything in writing? Adam is a stand-up guy, I thought. He must prefer this as a more efficient way to get things done. To make contracts on the fly and move on to the next productive endeavor. Boy, was I wrong.
I took great effort to comb the internet for writers interested in the “AVTM Newscast” project. I assembled a team of talented writers and worked with them to produce the show. Adam was very demanding of the writers. He promised pay but failed to deliver unless constantly reminded. Even then, he delayed payments. After a few weeks, all but 3 of the original 11 writers had dropped out of the project.
I was now the main writer for the show, often writing between 50-75% of the entire 20-minute episode on a daily basis. This took a considerable amount of my time and energy. I was working from 8:30AM often to 1AM, with breaks in between for meals, never able to leave the house because I was responsible for working on a 24-hour news cycle. “Working this hard and sacrificing food and sleep is worth it,” I told myself. “You’re producing a killer show, and it’s good for liberty.”
When I was on FreeTalkLive, Ian Freeman (the host) would plug my personal website at least twice per show. With Adam Kokesh’s newscast, however, I was not mentioned. I fought for weeks for some recognition, not just for me, but for my writing team who worked so hard to meet Adam’s challenging demands. After I successfully petitioned Adam for a 5-second credit roll at the end of the show, he told the editor behind my back to scrap the credit roll after just 2 episodes of use. I had to petition him again in front of the entire AVTM crew to put it back, and even then, he did so with reluctance.
After that week, the show ended suddenly with no announcement. Adam was changing his format. It was no longer a 20-minute show, it was a 5-minute show. And it wouldn’t be written by me or the writers, it would be written by John Light, Adam’s manager. 3 months into a 4-month commitment, I was suddenly no longer involved.
By this point, all of these promises Adam made to me had been broken except for my being able to live with him in Herndon, VA. Preferring a clean house, this was not a selling point for me.
9 weeks after the airing of the first episode, I demanded pay, however late. Adam said he calculated my share of the revenue from the videos I wrote and produced to be about $75, but he said he would “round up” to $80. That’s $80 for my first month of work.
Around this time, I confronted Adam about not following through with his end of our agreement. I had been faithful to him, I had produced like hell for him, I had withheld sleep and food for the sake of producing great content for his channel, and I was being ignored. This was no way to treat an employee, let alone a friend. This had become an abusive relationship. I decided to leave one month early.
Since leaving AVTM, I have emailed and texted reminders to Adam that I am owed my final paycheck. He asked me for an estimation of its value. I estimated that it should be $1,340. On January 11th, he said he was only able to pay $450 though he said, quote, “I think you’re worth a lot more than that,” and asked if I wanted to be paid in bitcoins. I was unhappy about this, seeing how little Adam apparently viewed my contributions to his channel. I made up my mind to learn from this experience and take what I could get as compensation for my lost labor hours. I told him I would accept the money in bitcoins.
$450 was equal to 35 bitcoins at that time, compensation for work performed during a month when the same amount would have purchased 40 bitcoins. I have been waiting for my bitcoins to arrive for a week, more than 2 weeks since I first brought the issue to light. My emails are ignored. I finished working with Adam over a month ago, and I am being ignored when I ask for the money he owes me. Not getting paid doesn’t just keep me from doing activism, it keeps me from eating!
Is Adam fallen on hard times? Let’s see. Is he refraining from spending money on doing what he wants to do? No. Tomorrow, he’s taking a plane to Las Vegas for the day, to appear as an extra in a movie.
That’s great that he can do all this “activism”, but until he has paid me what he owes he is doing it at my expense. He has taken advantage of me, plain and simple. He got my labor and then stiffed me. His avoidance of this basic obligation tells me that he must not care about the people with whom he works.
Let my experience serve as an admonition for all who wish to do business with Adam Kokesh in the future. He has violated contracts with me multiple times, and he has withheld payment from me. Until a proper remedy for this has been applied, I will not be engaging in transactions with Adam Kokesh. What YOU do is none of my business, but as he recruits for “interns,” you’ve been warned that Adam has not honored his agreements with me.