Republic Monetary Exchange Spent "Tens of Thousands" to Thwart "Pesky" New Times Article About Company on Internet

Republic Monetary Exchange, a Phoenix precious-metals firm, spents tens of thousands of dollars on "reputation management" following a July 2010 New Times article, a company e-mail shows.

The e-mail shows up in a counter-suit to a lawsuit filed against Republic Monetary by one of its major investors. Our post from earlier today examines the highlights of the legal action between two old buddies, Sherman Unkefer and Jim Clark, the former executives of a large gold-and-silver firm that imploded in the early 1980s.

Our July 8, 2010 article covered many aspects of the modern gold craze and didn't focus solely on Clark and Unkefer. But it did explain the pair's involvement in the 1980s company, North American Coin and Currency, their prison records, and Unkefer's apparent investment in Clark's new company, Republic Monetary.

In a March 2011 e-mail, Clark informs Unkefer that despite the spending of tens of thousands of dollars, "we are unable to rid the internet of that pesky article."

"Beginning next month," Clark wrote, "we will [be] spending $5,000 a month to at least push it down. Basically, the more the company grows, the more you will be linked to us. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is. We know for a fact [that] it's cost us several million dollars in business already."

It's unclear how Republic's efforts have changed the way computer users may discover New Times' articles.

Typing "Republic Monetary Exchange" into Google's search field, the July 2010 feature article doesn't appear in page after page of results.

However, in a bit of irony, the search does bring up a blog post by New Times as the No. 2 search result, just behind a link for the company's own website. The post was written after Clark's son, James, called New Times to defend his father's company on the day the more comprehensive article was published.

The e-mail also refers to a lawsuit (mentioned in the 2010 feature article) between Republic Monetary Exchange and Desert Gold Exchange, a Scottsdale firm accused by Clark of stealing company secrets.

Clark wrote to Unkefer in March that the Desert Gold case has been settled "at a tremendous cost," and that he didn't want to repeat "the same mistakes."

As for the new lawsuit, Clark maintains that he's unsure whether Unkefer still is part of Occidental Resources, the company that reportedly owns up to 30.4 percent of Republic Monetary.

It seems odd he's so confused, though, given that exhibits for the lawsuit show that Unkefer invested in Republic Monetary by cutting personal checks. But this is anything but a simple case.

As Clark implies in his e-mail, Unkefer is linked to Republic Monetary one way or another.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.