Trying to Keep Inaugural Tickets Priceless

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Beware, eBay sellers.

Scalpers, watch out.

Hoping to keep the inauguration from turning into the ultimate hustle, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is drafting legislation that would make it a federal crime to sell the free tickets to President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in. She is also writing to Web sites requesting that they not permit tickets to be sold.

Only 240,000 tickets are available for the event. The offices of senators and House members have been flooded with calls and e-mails from constituents clamoring to be part of the historic day.

Feinstein, chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said she has heard reports of tickets going for $40,000. "This is unconscionable and must not be allowed."

Gil Duran, Feinstein's spokesman, said, "It kind of runs contrary to what this . . . is supposed to be about when scalpers fire up their engines and declare open season on the inauguration."

The tickets will be given to members of Congress and to Obama's presidential inaugural committee for distribution. Some more distant parts of the viewing area will not require tickets and will probably be served by huge video screens.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), whose office stopped taking ticket requests Friday, said she has asked Obama's advisers to consider adding outdoor and indoor events.

Staff writer Avis Thomas-Lester contributed to this report.

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