People looking to score scalped tickets to the Jan. 21 presidential inaugural ceremonies likely will be out of luck. Craigslist and eBay have agreed to police the attempted sale of the coveted tickets on their websites.
After reports that scalpers were attempting to sell their tickets to inaugural events on websites such as Craigslist and eBay, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, contacted the two sites to try to get them to remove such listings.
Tickets for the inaugural ceremonies are made available to a lucky few through individual congressional offices and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and are clearly marked “not for sale.” The tickets, however, were spotted on Craigslist and eBay for hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars. Although it’s not illegal to sell these tickets, Schumer said the tickets are intended to be free.
JCCIC said in a release that staff at eBay will strictly enforce a policy that prohibits the sale of such tickets on its website, and Craigslist staff will be on the lookout for listings of these tickets and promptly remove them from the site. The ticket resale website Stub Hub had refused to sell inaugural tickets from the get-go.
“This year’s Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies are not for sale,” Schumer said in the release. He added, “This is a chance for people from all 50 states to celebrate our democracy, not for ticket scalpers to make a quick buck.”
This is not the first time tickets to watch the presidential swearing-in on the cordoned off area of the West Front of the Capitol have popped up for sale online.
Tickets to Obama’s swearing-in ceremony in 2009 reportedly went for thousands of dollars, and some had tried to counterfeit the color-coded tickets.
The 2009 resale and counterfeited ticket debacle led Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the 2009 JCCIC, to introduce a bill that would outlaw the sale and counterfeiting of such tickets. The bill passed the Senate, but a version introduced by Rep. Michael E. Capuano, D-Mass., was never taken up by the House.
Capuano spokeswoman Alison Mills said Capuano plans to re-file the bill in the 113th Congress, adding that the bill wasn’t taken up by the House last time around because “other matters took on more urgency, such as determining how so many people got stuck at security checkpoints or were directed to the wrong areas and missed the event.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., also said in an interview with CQ Roll Call that he wants a bill banning the sale of these tickets to be brought to the floor.
He said selling inaugural tickets is “one of the ultimate crimes” and is “exploiting that which belongs exclusively to the American people.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.