The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

"Free" Inauguration Tickets Selling For Thousands

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 11, 2008 4:50PM

2008_11_11_inauguration.jpgProving once again that there is no such thing as "free" in the age of internet entrepreneurs, tickets for Barack Obama's Inauguration are the hottest item on the internet. The thing is, they haven't been distributed yet. Oh, and, again, they're free. So why are people shelling out up to $10,000 for them and how is any of this legal? Well, the answer to the first question is obvious: Obama's election was a historic event and he's built up one the largest active followings of any politician in our lifetime.

There are 240,000 tickets to the inauguration which are distributed via the offices of Senators and Congressmen. If you want to get in on the waiting list action, better call yours right away. Anyway. According to inaugural committee spokeswoman Carole Florman, many of the committees that organize most of the inaugural events haven't even been formed yet and that, "Any member of Congress is prohibited from profiting by their position. A letter is going out to them reminding them of that. Soon." That's not the only preventative measure being taken.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said she is drafting a bill to ban sales of inauguration tickets, while her committee is sending a stern letter to Capitol employees outlining ethics rules about making money from access to power, and inaugural tickets.
So where are these "tickets" already being sold coming from?
Ticket brokers wouldn't say where their tickets were coming from. One broker, StubHub, explained that it was similar to providing tickets for the Super Bowl. In both cases, sales begin before tickets are in hand because the brokers are confident that they will be able to acquire them later.
Ah. Well, that clears that up. Besides, last we heard, the Inaugural Parade was...just that: a parade, which means it's open and free to the public. If you want all the official info, visit the Senate's Official Inaugural website. Of course, if you are lucky enough to land tickets, you're going to pay a hefty price for a hotel room, if you can even find one in the D.C. area.