Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York declared in a press conference Tuesday that his office will be targeting Goldline--a gold-selling company he accuses of ripping off customers--and its prominent backers in the conservative media. He particularly focused on Glenn Beck's connections to Goldline. Weiner says the company falsely portrays itself as a credible investment adviser, while selling gold to customers at 190% of its market value and exploiting public fears for monetary gain. He also accuses Beck and other pundits of being complicit.
- What's Weiner Alleges CBS News' Brian Montopoli sums up.
Weiner accused Beck and other conservative spokespeople (among them Mark Levin and Fred Thompson) of using "their shows to prey on the public's fears of inflation and socialist takeovers while actively promoting the purchase of gold coins as insurance against this purported government overreach."
"Simply put, Goldline is little more than a gold peddler posing as an investment advisor, an unfortunate byproduct of the Tea Party movement," Weiner's office said.
Weiner has released a report detailing what he calls Beck and Goldline's use of "tall tales about the future of gold" to sell gold coins. In it, he says Goldline "grossly overcharges" for coins and "formed an unholy alliance with conservative pundits to drive a false narrative" that they are a good investment.
- Weiner's Plan Politico's Kenneth Vogel reports, "A member of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, Weiner said he plans this week to introduce legislation to require Goldline and other precious metal retailers to fully disclose all their fees, how much the price of gold would need to rise in order for their customers’ investments to yield a profit, and the purchase price, melt value and resale value of the metal that constitutes their products. And he called on the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the Federal Trade Commission to investigate 'the shady business practices conducted by Goldline International.'"
- Beck Defends: Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy? Glenn Beck on his radio show: "This is again another arm of this administration coming out to try to shut me down. This is absolutely incredible. Is there anybody that is going to say anything in the press at any time if you stand up against this White House? They have three, count them, three advisors of this president that have launched official campaigns boycotting my sponsors! Any sponsor that stays with me, now they are targeting through — you want to talk about the McCarthy era! Look at what this country is becoming!"
- Goldline's Clever Scam Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer investigates. "Twenty-franc Swiss coins are a little smaller than a nickel and contain a little less than two-tenths of an ounce of gold," she writes. "Goldline sets a 30 to 35 percent "spread" on the coins, meaning that it will pay $375 to buy back coins it's currently selling for $500. At that rate, gold prices would have to jump by a third just for customers to recoup their investment, never mind making a profit. Investing in Goldline's 20 francs would be like buying a blue chip stock that lost a third of its value the minute it's purchased. It's difficult to think of any other investment that loses so much value almost instantly." Mencimer says Goldline uses aggressive and exploitative sales techniques to push the lucrative sells.
- Why Beck Is Complicit BuzzFlash's Jeffrey Joseph explains, "The conflict arises from the fact that Beck’s content, full of blatant fear mongering about the potential decline of society and of paper money, appears to fit too perfectly with Goldline’s advertising agenda. In effect, Beck’s content seems driven by his advertising, and since Beck’s rhetoric tends toward the extreme, it presents a noticeable danger to the public."
- Is This About Stifling Conservatives? Conservative blogger William Jacobson worries, "Why bother with a bit player like Goldline? Because Glenn Beck still is on the air despite a boycott which has succeeded in scaring away some advertisers, but not Goldline. ... We are in dangerous territory folks. The congressional power to investigate, and to pressure the executive branch to bring enforcement proceedings, is being used to support a partisan boycott and to stifle political dialogue."
- ...Or Consumer Protection? The Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch sighs, "That has nothing to do with this -- it's about consumer protection. If Beck endorsed companies that didn't use questionable sales tactics, there would be no story. And frankly, Weiner wouldn't even be involved if the SEC and the FTC had been doing their jobs in the first place." Bunch wonders if this scandal will end Beck's influence.