1982 legislation was proposed as a 'logical' compromise to produce the first U.S. Olympic coins

From the Memory Bank column from the June 23, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 06/07/14
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Skirmishes in the U.S. House of Representatives over the number of coins and marketing of the United States’ first modern Olympic coinage program that had begun in the summer of 1981 erupted into an intense battle during the spring of 1982.

A Government Accounting Office study, released in April 1982, cited five flaws with a Senate-approved proposal seeking 25 commemorative coins honoring the 1984 Olympic Games to be hosted by the city of Los Angeles.

Rep. Frank D. Annunzio, D-Ill., chairman of the House Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Coinage, took to the floor of the House to bring attention to the GAO report. The most worrisome problem, Annunzio warned, was that the GAO had been unable to obtain any documents from the private marketing group, the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, or the Treasury concerning the marketing arrangements.

GAO concerns

Annunzio added: “The General Accounting Office is concerned that Congress cannot make an intelligent evaluation of S. 1230 without access to information documenting the claims of those who would market the coins under the bill.”

Further, Annunzio took issue with the process for choosing a marketer for the coins, describing it as a “sham.”

Never one to mince words, Annunzio ended his speech on the floor of the House by suggesting that S. 1230 possessed the ingredients for a “world scandal.”

Annunzio wanted a smaller number of coins. He also was adamant that the U.S. Mint should both manufacture and market the coins, with all of the profits to be turned over to the Los Angeles and U.S. Olympic committees to be used for building training facilities and support of U.S. athletes.

Different approach

S. 1230 provided a very different approach. The marketing was to have been bid out to the private sector, with the U.S. Mint relegated to the role of manufacturer.

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