Before GSA outrage, Issa backed numerous commemorative coins

The coins awarded during the Las Vegas conference cost more than $6,000.  The coins awarded during the Las Vegas conference cost more than $6,000. GSA photo

One of the biggest points of congressional outrage over the General Services Administration’s Las Vegas conference scandal has been the fact that GSA spent more than $6,000 -- a small fraction of the conference’s $823,000 price tag -- on 300 commemorative coins for conference attendees.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has been particularly vocal about the coins at this week’s hearings, calling their production “hypocritical” for an agency meant to focus on how to best cut administrative costs from government. Issa, however, has held substantially different views on commemorative coin legislation in the past, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.

Issa has supported more than two dozen pieces of legislation backing special U.S. Mint coins celebrating historical events or American organizations, according to The Huffington Post. Among the Mint coin productions that Issa has backed have been commemorations of former President Ronald Reagan, the Model T, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day (half the profits from this run of coins would go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation if the bill passes the Senate).

The Huffington Post also points to coins GSA minted in 2008 to mark the presidential transition as evidence that agency spending also went unchecked under President Bush. Issa’s office denied the Bush administration had anything to do with the coins, telling The Huffington Post they were approved by President Obama’s transitional committee.

“It’s pathetic and ironic that someone is offering a GSA Obama-Biden transition commemorative as an example of waste under the Bush administration," Issa spokesman Fred Hill told The Huffington Post. "They’re even throwing Obama’s own transition team under the bus in an effort to blame Bush.”

But The Huffington Post stuck with its story, saying sources confirmed the coins were approved by GSA leadership under Bush.

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