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Congress’s $3.5 million ”Bake Sale” for the Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts Commemorative Coin a All right, it isn’t actually a bake sale, but it might as well be. On May 15, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5872, an act “To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the centennial of the Boy Scouts of America, and for other purposes.” The other purposes? The sale of the coins by the Secretary of the Treasury, with a surcharge on each coin sold to “be paid to the National Boy Scouts of America Foundation.” In other words, this is a congressionally mandated fundraiser for the Boy Scouts.

With the act allowing for up to 350,000 of this coin to be issued and fixing the surcharge at $10 per coin, the Boy Scouts could receive as much as $3.5 million from their sale. Never before, in the long history of U.S. government-issued commemorative coins, has this benefit been granted to an organization that promotes religion or discriminates based on religion.

What is a Commemorative Coin and How Does the Program Work?

A 1996 U.S. Mint report titled “Commemorative Coins Could Be More Profitable,” described the issuance of commemorative coins as follows: “Every commemorative coin program is authorized by an act of Congress. Congress authorizes commemorative coins primarily as a means of honoring certain events and individuals and raising funds for the coins’ sponsors. On occasion, the proceeds from commemorative coin sales are applied to the national debt. Commemorative coins are legal tender but are purchased and retained by collectors, rather than used as a circulating medium of exchange.”

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