Saturday, 16 May 2015

Lobbying: Professional Numismatic Guild Issue Statement

The PNG (Professional Numismatic Guild) has as its slogan "Knowledge, Integrity, Responsibility", so when selecting a lobbyist to represent them, one would think they would seek somebody whose own professional  conduct embodies those qualities. They chose Peter Tompa. We have all observed disturbing features about the tone and content of what their representative has been writing on the Cultural Property Observer blog, started in 2008 as part of his lobbying efforts on behalf of the PNG and at least one other dealers' association.

I have several times tried over the past few weeks been trying to contact these associations to obtain some kind of assurance that they are aware of and are in full acceptance of what is being produced in "defence" of the no-questions-asked business methods which this lobbying is intended to support (see here and here). So far, I have only received a statement from the PNG. This is what Robert Brueggeman sent me and others (Friday, March 20, 2015 10:24 AM ) in reply to my request (Friday, March 20, 2015 11:57 AM) for a statement.
Dear Mr. Bradford (sic); Legal counsel representing the IAPN and the PNG is not a member of the PNG. However; he is hired to accomplish a specific goal, and in this capacity he represents the IAPN and the PNG. When representing these entities please advise as to when direct inappropriate comments have been made toward you or anyone else for that matter. In his personal blog, his own opinion may not set well with you, but his personal opinion is just that, and he is entitled to voice that opinion. Thank you, Bob
Apart from not being able to copy the spelling of a two-syllable name properly, Mr Brueggeman - a coin dealer - really seems not to understand the issue raised. This is not "personal opinion" but material produced and represented to the CPAC as on behalf of the "small businesses" represented by organizations like the PNG. For example Tompa's recent attack on Professor Nathan Elkins was prompted by the latter querying statements made directly as part of that lobbying effort (and Tompa is unprofessionally defending them by personal attack and sniping rather than addressing what was said).

As for what "sits well", the reference to a specific goal for the achieving of which Peter Tompa and Bailey and Ehrenberg have been engaged by the PNG, presumably means the challenge to US anti-antiquities-smuggling legislation. I would say that this, in iteself, is one that does not "sit well" with a lot of people on both sides of the Atlantic. That the person chosen by PNG to "achieve" it expresses views that also do not sit well with a lot of decent folk does not reflect at all well on the PNG and its members. This is especially the case seen in the context of the PNG's repeated expression of a lack of concern.

If a person associated in any capacity in the public eye with the PNG in his "personal blog" had expressed extremist anti-Moslem or anti-semitic views, or White Supremecist ones, would an organization truly promoting integrity and responsibility not distance themselves from him? If for example a person representing PNG had written his "personal view" that "little n***r girls who go out in the streets in white areas of the town in short dresses deserve to be raped", would the PNG still take the view that their representative is entitled to his personal views, or would they consider that such opinions are detrimental to the image of themselves and all of their members and put a stop to it? I see very little difference in the fictional view above and the victim-blaming "personal view" expressed throughout his lobbyist's blog by the chosen representative of the PNG that people who live in countries with (what he sees as) "corrupt governments" deserve to have their heritage raped by looters and smugglers, and dealers should not be expected to lift a finger to do anything.

Such an approach to the issue of illicit artefacts is a pathetic 'Two Wrongs' argument and while, perhaps, that sort of justification may seem perfectly acceptable to some professional numismatists of a particular political bent (it seems from the PNG's reaction to my earlier concerns that they have no problems with such a 'personal view'), I doubt they would find many outside that sort of circle that would sympathise.

Likewise the ad hominem attacks Tompa publishes (like the two under the post to which I specifically referred the PNG two days ago) are not the sort of behaviour that "sits well" with anyone who reads it there but perhaps a PNG member.

The CPO blog in question is indeed a tool used for lobbying on behalf of the PNG, I would therefore say that what is written there can indeed be taken by the rest of us to some degree as a reflection on the PNG, especially as the Guild has now repeatedly simply dismissed the issues raised several times. Shame on the PNG for their lack of concern. This type of thing is not defending the reputation and interests of the hobby or industry, it is profoundly damaging them.

I will post up the results of my correspondence with the IAPN when they issue their statement denying any responsibility for their lobbyist's actions.
[Tompagate 4]


Nathan Elkins said...

It seems a cop-out to say that "Cultural Property Observer" blog reflects the lobbyist's private opinion and not the organizations that he is paid to represent in light of the fact the paid lobbyist regularly cites his own blog in court documents and correspondence to CPAC when lobbying on behalf of IAPN and PNG.

Paul Barford said...

Of course it is a cop-out. These after all are coin dealers.

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