Editor’s note: This story is one in a continuing series on Washington, D.C.’s misinformation industry. The series seeks to illuminate the sometimes-misleading methods used by special interest groups to gain support for their agendas from government and average Americans.
Americans for Common Cents was created in 1990 to “inform and educate policymakers, consumers, and the media about the penny’s economic, cultural and historical significance.”
Members sought to rally support behind the penny in response to those who would prefer that it be done away with. Its “executive director,” Mark Weller, spoke before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology in 2012.
He described the group as “broad-based and comprised of, and endorsed by, many of the nation’s leading coin and numismatic organizations, charitable organizations … and companies involved in the manufacturing and transport of the penny.”
But his written statement did not mention that Weller is actually a lobbyist and head of strategic communications for Dentons, a law firm representing the interests of zinc producer Jarden Zinc Products, a major provider of coin blanks that are made into currency.
In addition, over the years the New York Post, Chicago Tribune, New York Times and CNN have failed to mention American for Common Cents’ industry connection. In a press release, claiming widespread support for saving the penny, the group was mute regarding the conflict.
Weller only disclosed Jarden as a sponsor of ACC on a separate truth in testimony disclosure form, submitted to the Committee on Financial Services, which listed the zinc producer as a recipient of federal contracts.
This story is part of Consider the Source. Seeking to ‘out’ shadowy political organizations flourishing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. Click here to read more stories in this investigation.
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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.