According to numerous Wednesday media reports from the likes of NPR and Politico, tickets to President Barack Obama’s second inauguration events on Jan. 21, 2013 are being sold on eBay, Craigslist and other online ticket sale sites for as much as $2,000 per ticket.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee and Washington, D.C. congressional offices are distributing tickets to various events related to the presidential inauguration and claim that all the tickets are free. However, there are persons who are trying to make a sizable amount of money by selling them online. The market that is selling the tickets is being referred to as the infamous black market.
Grabbed from Craiglist, the vendor wrote in an ad: “These tix are going like hot cakes, and for FAR more than I am listing them for on here”. The seller was allegedly trying to sell two seats to the president’s event in which President Barack Obama is to be sworn in at the nation’s Capitol, and the price for the pair of tickets is said to be $4,000. Again, the tickets, when cleared by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, were free of charge.
The path leading to the persons who are selling tickets begins with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies issuing approximately 250,000 tickets to federal legislatures who are allowed to hand out the free tickets any way they so desire. Therefore, the tickets they have handed out to the masses have ended up in the hands of people who would rather make a decent amount of money on the tickets they were given than to see the historic event.
According to the reports, “scalping” these tickets is not an illegal act. However, the overseeing committee’s chairman, who is New York’s U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, would much prefer that the hands not end up in the hands of people who want to profit from them.
One ad on Craigslist even revealed that two tickets that were being sold for $2,000 were initially handed out by Nancy Pelosi’s office. Suspiciously, however, the ad erroneously referred to Pelosi as a senator rather than a member of the House of Representatives.
While tickets provided by the legislators can be sold – though doing it is discouraged – tickets from the Presidential Inaugural Committee cannot be resold without permission.
Unlike congressional tickets, tickets distributed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee can't be resold without permission of the committee. Adding to the somewhat confusing process, some other inaugural events besides the actual swearing-in ceremony do charge admission. For example, tickets to the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue went for $25 apiece – and are sold out. One of the two inaugural balls has a price of $60 per ticket while the other ball is free to military members.
The committee claims that tickets to official inaugural events may not be sold without permission of the Presidential Inaugural Committee and that tickets that appear to have been obtained improperly may be revoked at the committee’s discretion. In spite of the warning, online tickets are still being sold for more than $4,000 to big-scale inaugural events.