Friday, 8 May 2015

The Costs of Lobbying for the Dugup Antiquities Trade

Collectors' money going on
attacking conservation instead
of responsible collaboration
The 'The Center for Responsive Politics' makes accessible the information in the public domain about, for example, the paid lobbying of the International Association for Professional Numismatists and we find that apart from the activities of Bailey and Ehrenburg they reportedly have had other firms in their employ. At the beginning (2003) it was McDermott, Will and Emery [Peter Tompa was employed there in 2000-2004], shifting to Peter Tompa's next employer Dillingham and Murphy LLP [2004-2008] some time around 2005 (reportedly $10,000 paid there) The shift of custom to Bailey and Ehrenburg was in 2008, when Peter Tompa started his "Cultural Property Observer" blog which is one of his lobbying tools ("his views about insurance coverage issues and cultural property matters may be found both in print and on the internet"). In 2009, the year the six-year long Baltimore Illegal Coin Import Stunt "test case" was launched, the IAPN reportedly paid Bailey and Ehrenburg $10,000. The reported costs of servicing this "test case" and other lobbying started going up, already $30,000 by 2010 (overall lobbying expenditure $50,000 dollars). Fees paid by the IAPN for Bailey and Ehrenburg's "contribution to the heritage debate" have on the whole fluctuated between 10k and 30k for the next few years.

From 201to 2014 the IAPN also retained DLM Group to do some lobbying for them, paying them between 10 and 40 k annually for this.
The DLM Group ("get Washington on your side, get Congress to work for you") provides you with a full-service government relations presence. DLM’s extensive capabilities serve a myriad of client requirements, including: Lobbying and Advocacy, Risk Management, Business Development, Brand Awareness.
Well, they are going to have an uphill battle fighting against the bad impression people like Cultural Property Observer present the outside world with their constant sniping and ad hominem attacks.

We find the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) also paid McDermott, Will and Emery $10,000 for lobbying on their behalf in 2003, but apparently no other sums were paid for any lobbying after that.

According to the material presented by CRP, the IAPN alone have spent $173,000 of their members' money on Peter Tompa's disruptive 'lobbying'  and an additional $115,000 on DLM representation. The choice was made to spend $288000 on these types of activities instead of investing in a project which could increase the standing of the numismatic community the IAPN represents. For example the Association might have commissioned a study examining the issues the no-questions-asked trade in ancient coins raises and discussing practical means of addressing them (updated codes of practice, recommendations on documentation, a pilot scheme of the sort of inventory of antiquities proposed by Pearlstein and others etc). They might have used some of these funds to put together working parties and seminars to explore these issues, working with representatives of heritage communities. Instead they basically seem to have been intent on using their members money in a manner to finance alienation, discord, dissent and dismissal of any notions of norms of working together with other groups for the good of the finite resource which their trade so freely exploits. Time will tell if they invested wisely.

Maybe the IAPN would like to sit down and write a report on what, precisely, progress has been made, what legislation has been improved, what public good has accrued from these twelve years of lobbying at a cost of $288,000of their members money. What, exactly, have they achieved for their members by the decisions they have been taking on the means to adopt in interaction with heritage professionals? 

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