Elections have a way of focusing the attention of members of the U.S. House of Representatives on the needs of their constituents – or perhaps simply their votes in the Nov. 6 election.
How else can you explain legislation introduced Oct. 12 in the House by New Jersey Representative Robert E. Andrews?
He is a rising star according to online political accounts. However, my Google search also revealed that there are ethics questions regarding the use of campaign funds for personal trips to Scotland and Los Angeles.
The legislation, H.R. 6571, calls for commemorative coins honoring Korean immigrants to the United States.
I expect Koreans are an important voting group in his district. That would not be unusual. We have had coins honoring immigrant groups before.
What is unusual is there is no particular anniversary or event associated with the proposal. Korean emigration to the United States was cited in the legislation as beginning in 1903.
The new coins, if approved, would be issued on the 115th anniversary in 2018.
OK, OK, we’ve had sloppy anniversaries before. The 1991 coins marking the 38th anniversary of the Korean War comes to mind.
But there is more.
The legislation calls for unusually low quantities of new coins. Just 20,000 $5 gold pieces are authorized and, what is even stranger, 10,000 silver dollars.
No, a zero isn’t missing. 10,000 is what the legislation says. That’s less than 10 percent of the amount sold this year in the Star-Spangled Banner program or the Infantry program.
If they all sold, that would raise $800,000.
Proceeds would go to the Council on the 100th Year Korean Immigration Commemorative Coin.
Doesn’t it sound like this group is 15 years late?
And the final peculiar quality to this legislation is there are no co-sponsors. It is a one-person bill.
Perhaps there was a campaign stop somewhere in Andrews' district on Oct. 13 where announcing something of benefit to the Korean community was needed.
Whatever it is, this legislation is strange. I expect it won’t go anywhere, but then again, you never know.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."