Glenn Beck's favorite gold company hires lobbyists, PR firm

With a congressional investigation looming, a gold trading company popular among conservative pundits has turned to K Street for the first time.

Goldline International, Inc., on July 26 hired Prime Policy Group, one of the most prominent lobby firms in Washington, according to a lobbying registration form released this week.

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The company caught the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill after it became a big advertiser for Glenn Beck's Fox News program. The conservative TV host is closely associated with the company and has promoted their products.

The lobbying contract with Prime Policy came only six days after Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) announced that the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee would hold a hearing to investigate Goldline for allegedly overcharging costumers for coins and offering bad investment advice. Weiner also plans to introduce legislation targeting Goldline's business practices.

The PR firm Powell Tate has also been hired by Goldline to handle its messaging strategy.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based gold company has an eight-person lobbying team working on its behalf at Prime Policy. The team includes Marty Paone, formerly the Senate Democratic Majority Secretary; Robert Martin, once deputy director of legislative affairs for President George W. Bush; and Vicki Walling, former chief of staff to Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.).

The firm is working on “all legislative activities affecting the sale and marketing of precious metal products,” according to its lobbying registration form.

“Goldline anticipates being invited by the Subcommittee on Energy, Commerce and Consumer Protection to discuss proposed legislation regarding the precious metals and rare coin industry,” Eric Hoffman, a Powell Tate spokesman for Goldline, said about the Prime Policy lobbying contract.

Hoffman said Goldline needed the assistance of a firm such as Prime Policy to learn the ropes on Capitol Hill.

“This is the first time the company has been asked to testify before a congressional committee and retained Prime Policy to assist Goldline in understanding the legislative process and ensuring that it provides timely and accurate answers to the Subcommittee's questions,” Hoffman said.

Goldline says it has been delivering gold, silver and platinum coins and bars to collectors and investors since 1960. It also has struck up advertising agreements with a number of conservative media commentators.

Conservative media figures such as Monica Crowley, Mike Huckabee and Dennis Miller have all signed agreements with Goldline, becoming “the exclusive gold and silver company” for their respective broadcasts, according to press releases on Goldline’s website.

But Glenn Beck is the biggest media personality to be associated with the company. Beck has interviewed Goldline President and CEO Mark Albarian and often encourages his viewers to invest in gold due to the bad economic times.

Beck's high-profile promotion of the company attracted Weiner’s attention. In May, he released a report slamming Goldline and wrote letters to the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission asking them to investigate the company's practices.

“Goldline rips off consumers, uses misleading and possibly illegal sales tactics, and deliberately manipulates public fears of an impending government takeover — this is a trifecta of terrible business practices,” Weiner said in a statement. “It's unacceptable that this company is preying on public fears to sell its products.”

Goldline defended itself from the lawmaker’s attacks and said it maintains high ethical standards.

“Unfortunately, Congressman Weiner chose not to contact Goldline regarding this investigation or provide Goldline the opportunity to correct the misstatements in his report,” the company said in a statement at the time. “Goldline has and will continue to be committed to the highest ethical business practices.”

Since then, Weiner, along with Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), has traded letters with Albarian on how the company operates and sells gold to customers.

The hearing on Goldline is tentatively scheduled for later this month, according to a Weiner aide.