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Sen. Feinstein's Inaugural Tickets Resale Legislation Fails

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's legislation that would make the resale of inauguration tickets a federal crime died in the Senate last night when an effort to gain unanimous support for the measure failed, officials said.

Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, had hoped to ban the sale of the 240,000 tickets to President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony. Those tickets are being distributed free by congressional offices; Feinstein and others grew concerned by reports of tickets being offered on eBay and StubHub for thousands of dollars.

The legislation was supposed to be "hotlined" through the Senate, meaning it would be approved by unanimous consent. But several senators raised technical objections to the wording of the legislation and time ran out before the issues could be worked out, said Howard Gantman, staff director for the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

"The fear was how it impacted other things, not directly related to the sale for profit of inaugural tickets," Gantman said.

The Senate has moved into a pro-forma session, during which it is difficult to get legislation approved. For now, it appears it remains legal to resell tickets.

Gantman noted that Feinstein was able to secure voluntary agreements from ebay and StubHub not to sell inauguration tickets.

Updated 9:41 p.m.: Gantman emailed to say: “Senator Feinstein plans to reintroduce the bill in the new Congress and seek expedited passage. The bill has been modified to allow the official Presidential Inaugural Committee to provide tickets to people who donate funds for producing the various inaugural festivities. This has been done by Presidential Inaugural Committees of both parties for years. What has not happened in previous inaugurals is the extent of ticket scalping at astronomical prices that is now occurring, spurred on by the huge demand and proliferation of internet sites. Senator Feinstein believes these sales need to be stopped.”

By David A Nakamura  |  December 12, 2008; 4:55 PM ET  | Category:  Swearing-in Ceremony , Tickets
Previous: PIC Makes Donors Public | Next: Sure Way to Get Inauguration Tix? Donate $50,000

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Is it still illegal based on DC ticket resale law?

Posted by: nashpaul | December 12, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

It's a sad commentary on the GOP stranglehold on the Senate.
Nothing can get done for the good of the country.
The GOP senators are unredeemingly corrupt to the core.
With home-grown political terrorists like this crew in office, what hope has this country for restoration?
Thanks a lot, GOP.
It is my hope that the people of this country come to realize what a curse you are to this country and marginalize you so thoroughly that you will never again get to first base.
(I understand, until we have 2 more seats in the Senate, this is a vain hope, but it springs eternal when we consider the alternative.)

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | December 12, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

The article does not say that Republicans blocked this and there is no indication that any Republican did try. Perhaps it was a Democrat or two who thought it unwise or dangerous to criminalize this. Feinstein should have been able to work this out before the bill was introduced. Unfortunately, because of all the publicity she garnered over introducing the bill, more people than ever before will try to cash in by scalping those tickets.

Posted by: Gidgmom | December 12, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

How in the world is re-selling a ticket worthy of PRISON time?

Too many non-violent, consensual, victimless actions are already crimes in this country, and the only thing we have to show for it is ... the world's largest prison population.

Posted by: DupontJay | December 12, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

It was a small group of Republicans who blocked it, but Gidgmom was correct. It would have impacted various other agencies under the current language and caused overreaching and/or unforseen issues. But why not pass it under an emergency proclamation and simply rescind it or simply target it directly towards government event tickets deemed free to the public under the Constitution? It should have been worked out. Too bad for the public, now a vast majority of the wealthy will only be in attendance to witness history.

Posted by: madstamina | December 12, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

In the business world, this is called a bribe!!!

In politics, it's called greasing the palms!!!

In Illinois they want to impeach a Gov. for selling a Senate seat.

In D.C., they want to reward a large donation with a good seat.

What's the difference???

Whoop's, never mind, O'Hussein is doing this for personal gain.

Whoop's, isn't that what the Gov. of Illinois was doing???

Brings back memories of renting out the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House in the name of raising money???

Whoop's, never mind, THAT was just a "big Right Wing Conspiracy"???

Who has the cigar concession for this event??? Slick Willie???

I bet a good seat is NOT all that the big contributors will receive for their donations???

Posted by: thgirbla | December 12, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Forget it; the DC prosecutors will NOT take any action. My debit card was stolen by a CVS clerk. The CVS personnel have all the information, including her admission of guilt. But the prosecutor was NOT interested. Too much work for them.

Posted by: ElRosas | December 12, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Bank of America and Mr. Higgins missing $millions, It can happen to you, my fellow Americans

More info: http://mrhigginsbank.blogspot.com/

Posted by: srmaxhiggins | December 13, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

is there a more clear example of a doddering ding bat. I mean the repugs shut off the electricity to California, and Feinstein to this day does not know what happened. Poor California, You got Aunold, and two powerless Senator's.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | December 13, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh how rich, only the PIC is allowed to profit by awarding tickets to those who "donate".
Why do they object to the resellers? Are they afraid some conservatives might get in to the coronation?

Posted by: spamsux1 | December 13, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Isn't scalping illegal? Why isn't the resale of inaugural tickets (that were given free of charge) being called scalping? The idea that federal workers, including Congress persons and Senators, can scalp and not be arrested as a person reselling a bowl game ticket, is outrageous! This manifestation of classism is highly disturbing. This situation confirms the fact that ordinary American citizens will forever be denied any opportunity to experience any extraordinary American event. Scalping is scalping! Thus, the resale of these tickets should be treated as scalping. There is no need for a new law.

Posted by: port1700 | December 14, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

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