The rumors have been flying fast and furious ever since election day: Who will be the next director of the United States Mint?
The U.S. Mint director’s job is a political appointment, and most such positions traditionally change hands when a new president is elected. There has been some confusion among the members of the coin collecting community about whether the current U.S. Mint Director, Ed Moy, would have to automatically tender his resignation effective Jan. 20, 2009 (Inauguration Day). Some insiders insist that Moy should resign because Mint directors have supposedly always done so, but others, including my sources in the U.S. Mint Office of Public Affairs, believe that Moy’s appointment is for five years, and unless the president asks him to resign, Moy’s offer to do so is not automatically assumed. (Moy’s term of office isn’t due to expire until Aug. 27, 2011.)
If Barack Obama does nothing about the director of the U.S. Mint position, Moy will retain it. However, it is widely expected that Obama will appoint his own director. Who would he appoint? The name that comes up most often is someone in our midst: Reed Hawn. Hawn is a Texas oil gazillionaire and lifelong coin collector who has owned some of the rarest and most valuable coins there are, such as a 1913 Liberty nickel and an 1804 silver dollar. He has been active in the collecting community for many years, serving as a charter member of the original Citizen’s Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee (CCCAC), the committee which was formed to vet proposed commemorative coin designs and offer input to the U.S. Mint and Treasury Department about which designs should see the light of day. More importantly, Hawn is very well politically connected with the Democratic Party, having been a longtime Obama supporter who has raised significant money for Obama and other Democratic candidates. Some say the Mint Director’s job is Hawn’s for the asking. Hawn’s take on this? He says he’d be honored to serve the nation in whatever capacity he may be called upon to do so, but as far as any particular position goes at this point, “no comment.”
Another name that has frequently been proposed as Moy’s replacement is David Ganz. Ganz, too, is a lifelong collector with Democratic political connections. He has authored at least a half-dozen coin collecting books, (including his most recent, America’s State Quarters), and served our hobby in numerous ways, including a term as president of the American Numismatic Association (ANA). Ganz was also a charter member of the CCCAC and served two terms on that committee, during which he was the primary proponent of what became the state quarter program. In fact, Ganz is often referred to as the “Father of the Statehood Quarter program,” an appellation he is quick to shrug aside, stating that there are several unsung heroes without whom the state quarters would probably never have become a reality. All of these accomplishments have resulted in Ganz’s name being bandied about as the possible next U.S. Mint director.
When I asked Ganz if he would accept the position if it was offered to him, he replied that his vote would go to Reed Hawn!
Some of the possible contenders whose names haven’t been quite so widely debated include:
* Christopher Cipoletti – Former ANA executive director with good knowledge of the coin collecting hobby; spent much of his career as an attorney. Very long-shot candidate.
* David Hall – PCGS founder and CEO; Hall’s name comes up any time people are speculating about top numismatic positions. Extremely unlikely candidate for this one.
* Jim Halperin – Heritage Auction Galleries founder and CEO; another top name that often comes up. Also extremely unlikely.
* Leon Hendrickson – Founder and CEO of SilverTowne; knows the bullion market and how to run a mint. A dream choice, perhaps, but his business is probably an insurmountable conflict of interest.
So who do you think should be the next Mint director? Vote in my fun poll at http://coins.about.com/b/2008/12/03/us-mint-director-rumors.htm and send a letter to Numismatic News explaining who you’d like to see as the next director.
Susan Headley is the About.com Guide to Coins. Visit her site at http://coins.about.com.
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