Where There are Tickets, There’s Scalping

Overwhelming demand for the 240,000 available tickets is expected for the swearing in ceremony for President-Elect Barack Obama and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden, and reports are swirling that tickets may be sold for as much as $40,000 online.

With demand comes opportunists, and the game of ticket scalping has begun across the country, despite the fact that tickets are free and will not be distributed to Congress members for distribution until a week or so before the Jan. 20 event date.

According to the Associated Press, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, who is overseeing Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, said yesterday that she is writing to Internet sites such as eBay, asking them not to sell scalped inauguration tickets. She also said she’s coming up with a bill that would make selling tickets to the event a federal crime.

When the phrase “2009 inauguration tickets” is searched on eBay, no results come back, so apparently they’ve expedited the request to take down such offers. (But you can bid on some historic inauguration tickets such as one from 1865 that the seller claims is “prohibitively rare.”)

Feinstein aides are planning to write Craigslist and possibly other sites, according to reports.

Offers on Craigslist range from someone offering tickets to various balls for up to $500 to a buyer making a $99,999 offer to pay “top dollar cash,” for inauguration ceremony and ball tickets.

Again, just to reiterate, tickets are free, and will be distributed by your local Congress member. The lawmakers’ offices won’t get the tickets until a week or so of the event. In-person pickup will be required. To find contact information, visit Congress.org.

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