Attacking the proliferation of counterfeit U.S. coins made in China in the numismatic marketplace is the primary target of the Gold and Silver Political Action Committee, according to Philip N. Diehl, one of the founding GSPAC board members.
Diehl, who still serves on the GSPAC board, is also currently chief executive officer of the United States Gold Exchange in Austin, Texas, and is a former United States Mint director.
GSPAC is a political action committee founded in late 2010 to support national political candidates who support issues, legislation and regulations important to the ownership, marketing, and sales of collectible coins, paper money and precious metals.
In a Jan. 16 telephone interview with Coin World, Diehl said GSPAC’s efforts to combat the Chinese counterfeits have attracted the attention of the Criminal Investigation Division of the United States Secret Service and eBay, the online auction conduit through which many of the Chinese counterfeits have been offered for sale largely unmolested for several years.
Diehl said that after several years of no progress in the numismatic war against Chinese counterfeits and the aggressive enforcement of the Hobby Protection Act, the Secret Service began communicating with the numismatic industry and eBay following several meetings in 2011 between GSPAC board members; collector, lobbyist and former Rep. Jimmy Hayes of Louisiana; and Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, from Texas.
As committee chairman, Smith has influence over the Department of Justice and the Secret Service, Diehl said.
“We have wanted the Secret Service to get more involved with anti-counterfeiting,” Diehl said, who indicated considerable Secret Service resources are currently dedicated to presidential candidate protection.
Diehl did say, however, that an unnamed Secret Service agent from the CID has been assigned to work on the issue of the Chinese-made counterfeits of U.S. coins.
Diehl said officials realize that it is impossible to cut off the production of the counterfeits at their source or sources in China, but can concentrate their efforts by targeting the major marketing channels like eBay, Craigslist and other similar distribution avenues.
“We know that eBay is a crucial first step to convince some U.S. attorneys to prosecute,” Diehl said. “There’s nothing like a good federal prosecutor to send a national warning signal to these guys.”
Diehl believes GSPAC’s efforts will help lead to revisions and strengthening of the Hobby Protection Act.
“The prospect for significant law enforcement action is improving, and we are engaged with eBay to find ways to [cut off] sellers of counterfeits without affecting legitimate sellers,” Diehl said. “This progress would not have happened without the PAC’s actions.”
In addition to combatting counterfeit coins and seeking revisions to and enforcement of the Hobby Protection Act, Diehl said GSPAC has established the following priorities based on a survey of major contributors to the PAC:
➤ Prevent federal regulation of rare coin dealers.
➤ Prevent congressional authorization of interstate collection of sales taxes from online merchants.
➤ Restore rare coins in IRAs.
➤ Expand capital gains tax to include coins and bullion.
➤ Subject hotel gold buyers to the same requirements legitimate sellers face and encourage enforcement of those requirements.
➤ Support the International Association of Professional Numismatists on its position related to the importation of ancient antiquities.
Diehl said specific issue focus will be determined by several factors, including an issue’s priority, the opportunity or threat posed by potential government action, the PAC’s influence on relevant members of Congress and GSPAC’s prospects for success.
GSPAC supports its initiatives by raising funds through individual contributions and making campaign contributions to key candidates who support its agenda, or in a few cases, to the opponents of those who oppose us, Diehl said. The contributions to candidates are targeted for the greatest possible effect, he said.
GSPAC is nonpartisan, providing contributions to both Republicans and Democrats based solely on who supports or opposes the PAC and who can help it accomplish its goals, Diehl said. Between March and July, the GSPAC board will make decisions about which candidates to support in 2012.
Since its founding, GSPAC has raised $302,895 from 84 individual contributors and made campaign contributions of $18,828.63 to seven members of Congress. Full details can be found online at www.goldandsilverpac.com.
Contributions must come from personal, not business, accounts. Individuals may contribute up to $5,000 per year. Each member of a family has a contribution limit of $5,000, so a husband and wife can contribute a total of $10,000 per year, Diehl said. Also, GSPAC hosts fundraising events where individuals may also make contributions independent of the PAC contribution.
All contributors must supply their names, with those contributing $200 and more required to also provide their occupations. The provided information about those who made contributions of $200 and higher will be published. “If you’re concerned about reporting requirements, the PAC welcomes contributions of $199 or less,” Diehl said.
Contributions can be mailed to Barry Stuppler, Chairman, Gold & Silver PAC, P.O. Box 805, Woodland Hills, CA 91367-0805. ■