In The Know

Scalpers seeking thousands for free inauguration tickets

Free inauguration tickets that are doled out to the public are hot commodities for scalpers, who are hawking passes for up-close-and-personal views of the Jan. 20 ceremony for tens of thousands of dollars online.

One seller on eBay is advertising a pair of tickets to President-elect Donald Trump’s swearing-in ceremony at a starting bid of $1,200.

“The tickets will grant you access to ‘The Mall’ standing area at the least,” the dealer promises in the listing. “We won’t have the exact location of the tickets until January 19th, but you will have access to ‘The Mall’ (see the map insert) at the least. Should the unlikely event occur that the location is upgraded, then the upgrade will be passed on to you.” 

Several of the coveted seated views of the ceremony are also on sale on a site called GreatSeats.com. One ticket in a prime section on the West Front of the Capitol is being hawked for a whopping $14,700, while others are for sale for as much as $6,900. Another seller on the site is aiming to fetch nearly $2,000 for a standing-room ticket.

{mosads}The company, which describes itself as an independent ticket broker, features an entire inauguration section.

“Tickets for inaugural events are available primarily by request through the offices of the individual Congressional representatives and The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies,” it says in a disclaimer.

“We are not affiliated with a political party, any state or governmental agencies, or the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies,” the website adds. “Our prices are based on location, demand, and availability and reflect the difficulty in obtaining tickets.”

In a statement to ITK, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) Communication Director Laura Condeluci said, “Tickets to view the swearing in of our next President are meant to be free, and it should remain that way.” 

Online sellers looking to score fast cash may not realize the move generally doesn’t sit well with inaugural officials and lawmakers.

While legal, members on both sides of the aisle frown upon the scalping of the free tickets, which are mainly distributed to constituents by congressional offices via a lottery system.

“Well our gal didn’t win,” one listing on Craigslist states, lamenting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s loss, “so now I have 2 tickets available for the swearing in ceremony on Friday, Jan 20th.”

“However, I do want someone to enjoy the experience for their candidate,” says the seller, in an ad posted this week. “We assume the tickets to be standing room in the North, South, or West area of the capital. Great locations. They may even end up even being closer. Unfortunately, we can not [sic] confirm exact location until we receive the tickets on Jan 17th. Please send your best offer.”

Another vendor uses discreet language in his Craigslist posting: “I have up to 6 North Lawn Standing Tickets.”

“Email me with your offer and I will send back a confirmation email to prove that I will indeed be picking up on the morning of Tuesday 1/17,” says the seller, who identifies himself as “Michael.”

None of the listings spotted by ITK reveal the source of the tickets for the 58th annual inauguration.

It’s not the first time inaugural ticket holders have tried to make a quick buck by attempting to scalp their seats or standing-room passes. As ITK first reported back in 2013, hordes of inaugural tickets for President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony were up for grabs for thousands of dollars on various auction and classifieds sites.

Days after The Hill’s story was published, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who at the time was the JCCIC’s chairman, announced he had struck an agreement with two major auction sites to stop the sale of scalped inaugural tickets.

“This year’s Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies are not for sale,” Schumer said in a statement at the time. “eBay and Craigslist are doing the right thing in stopping the sale of scalped tickets to one of our nation’s most sacred events.” The JCCIC said in 2013 that Craigslist agreed to monitor its site and remove any inaugural ticket listings, while eBay would enforce a policy to not allow the listing in the first place.

The JCCIC’s Condeluci said Wednesday that the committee “does not authorize the sale of inaugural tickets.” The JCCIC, which is currently chaired by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), is “working cooperatively with sites like eBay and StubHub to prevent these sales, as it has done in the past,” she added.

An eBay spokesman said in an statement emailed Wednesday that tickets to the 2017 inauguration ceremony “will be prohibited on eBay under our event tickets policy and we will remove any listings that may appear on our site.”

ITK was still able to find one listing for inaugural tickets shortly after the statement was received, however.

ITK has also reached out to Craigslist and GreatSeats.com for comment on the current crop of scalpers.

–This report was updated at 12:35 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Roy Blunt
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