WASHINGTON (Jan. 15, 2009) - The U.S. Senate last night approved legislation sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), that would prohibit the sale and counterfeiting of inaugural tickets.
"The Presidential Inauguration is one of the most important rituals of our democracy. The chance to witness it should not be bought and sold like tickets to a sporting event. These tickets are free and they should remain free for the American people," said Senator Feinstein, chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC). "My hope is that the House takes up and quickly passes this legislation so that we can stop scam artists and profiteers from tarnishing this important event. There's little time left. We must do our part to ensure that the inauguration is granted all of the respect and dignity it deserves."
The bill makes it unlawful to sell or attempt to sell tickets to the presidential inaugural swearing-in ceremony. It also would be illegal to create a fraudulent ticket or forge a ticket to the inauguration. Those who violate the law would face fines of up to $100,000 and imprisonment up to one year.
Presidential Inaugural Committees would be exempted from this legislation. These committee are traditionally used by both political parties to organize and fund the public inaugural ceremonies. Donations made in return for inaugural tickets have long been used to fund inaugural festivities.
Tickets to the 56th Inaugural Ceremonies are provided free of charge and are distributed through members of Congress and the President-elect and Vice President-elect. Tickets are being distributed to Congressional offices this week and will require in person pick-up with proper identification.
In November, Ebay/StubHub announced it would not allow the sale of inaugural swearing-in ceremony tickets on any of its websites.
Source: Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies