Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Lobbyist Peter Tompa - in Whose Best Interests?

I am getting fed up of this. Washington lawyer Peter K. Tompa of Bailey and Ehrenburg PLLC represents two formal associations of numismatic dealers, the IAPN and PNG at least one of which reportedly pays him for this. The question is however to what degree his activities are a reflection of the values these associations represent. The PNG for example has the motto "Knowledge, Integrity, Responsibility", the IAPN says it enforces "strict ethical standards". Are such values reflected by the content and tone of Mr Tompa's blog? 

The material he publishes there consistently displays attitudes which hardly enhance the image of the ancient coin trade. Whatever its title may suggest, the lobbyist’s blog eschews presenting any rational and reasonable discussion of  the cultural property issues and is clearly written in a manner designed to constantly inflame rather than win support. The contents consist primarily of a series of snide and subversive insinuations and outright xenophobic attacks on the foreign countries which have signed cultural property MOUs with the USA which involve coins or have been involved in recent antiquity repatriation cases (Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Greece, Iraq, Italy and Egypt). I would say association with the sort of views which the public sees displayed in these texts really does little to enhance the image of the international coin trade.

What I find particularly disturbing is the lobbyist’s tendency to use this blog as the vehicle for a private vendetta aimed at a number of academics and other individuals who call for better protection of the archaeological record from the effects of artefact looting and smuggling.  In a whole series of posts on the lobbyist’s blog he has engaged in a campaign of personal attacks. Most frequently, the target of these crass attacks is myself. This includes the nasty ad personam and ad hominem comments which he allows on his 'moderated' blog (most notably those from metal detectorists John Howland and Dick Stout - to whose blog Mr Tompa links, and the sock-puppet Arthur Houghton). At the same time he announced some time ago that he will block me from commenting there on what he writes and replying to any of these comments.

I urge professional numismatists to scroll down through the posts of the blog of the coin trade's principle anglophone lobbyist made during the past couple of weeks and months to see the extent of this pattern.  Is this kind of thing really what an the numismatic trade associations have in mind financing Mr Tompa’s lobbying activities?  I would say the kind of thing we and the general public see does not create a very favorable image of the behaviour and attitudes of the numismatic professionals which the author claims to represent. Take a look for yourselves and decide whether this in any way does the numismatic trade any credit. 

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