Gold company sticking with Glenn Beck, other conservative pundits

A gold trading company has no plans to end its high-profile sponsorship of conservative commentators despite coming under congressional scrutiny.

Scott Carter, executive vice president of Goldline International, Inc., told The Hill that the firm is “very pleased” with its advertising relationship with Glenn Beck and other radio and television pundits that are popular among conservatives.

“We get pressure from organizations to stop advertising on these programs all the time. We pushed back against them and state that we want to evaluate our advertising based on its performance,” Carter said.

“We have a passion for gold and our product. We don’t have a political platform that we are trying to push,” he said.

The advertising on conservative programs, however, is what Carter believes had led lawmakers to target the company for investigation. On September 23, Carter is expected to testify at a hearing of the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee to discuss legislation that would regulate the gold trading industry. 

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has been leading the charge against Goldline, releasing an investigative report in May about the company’s business practices. Citing consumer complaints, Weiner has charged that the company overprices its gold coins and also offers unsound investment advice to customers. 

Weiner has also taken issue with the firm’s advertisements with conservative commentators, believing both sides benefit from driving up fear of an economic collapse.  

“They prey on fear. They prey on insecurity. And they prey on the ignorance that most Americans have when they buy and sell a rare commodity, like a collector coin or gold bullion,” Weiner said. 

Along with Beck, Goldline advertises on the broadcasts of well-known pundits like Laura Ingraham and former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.). 

“Those are leaders in the talk radio space and we are their exclusive precious metal advertisers. I think that got the attention of the congressman because he had a issue with the precious metal industry in general,” Carter said.

The Goldline executive also noted that the company advertises on multiple radio and TV stations, not just on conservative programs. 

“I think that diversification of a portfolio has to do with your asset allocation and your investment decisions, not your political persuasion,” Carter said. 

In preparation for the hearing, the company has hired Prime Policy Group for lobbying and Powell Tate for public relations representation. Carter said the company is relatively new to Washington and wanted to get outside expertise to properly prepare for the hearing. 

Goldline’s lobbyists will have contend with a bill just introduced by Weiner that would closely scrutinize the gold trading industry. Carter said the legislation would limit competition and add unnecessary oversight, since the Federal Trade Commission already regulates the sector. 

“There is already regulation for oversight from regulatory bodies within the industry,” Carter said. 

Weiner disagrees, saying his bill would toughen enforcement for deceptive practices for what he considers a lightly-regulated industry.
“It is governed no differently than that piece of furniture,” Weiner said, pointing to a chair in the Speaker’s Lobby. 

The bill would arm consumers with more information about gold trading, according to Weiner. For example, under the bill, sales representatives would have to tell consumers the purchase price, melt value and the resale value of the coin or bullion they are buying.

Time is short on the legislative calendar to move the bill, considering the fast-approaching midterm elections in November. But Weiner said he is looking for Republican co-sponsors and that the “non-controversial” legislation could pass quickly in the House under a suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote of House members for approval. 

“You would be hard-pressed to find too many members of Congress of either party who would want to stand up for ripping off consumers. I don’t care how many lobbyists you hire,” Weiner said. 

Carter said Goldline is looking forward to discussing its business model at the hearing, noting the company’s A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The executive also has been meeting with lawmakers this week to discuss the company.