Should Sale Of Inaugural Tickets Be Banned?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The senator overseeing Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony said Monday she's writing to Internet sites like eBay asking them not to sell scalped inauguration tickets.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also said she's crafting a bill that would make a federal crime of selling tickets to the historic event Jan. 20.

Feinstein, who chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said she foresees overwhelming demand for the 240,000 available tickets and has heard reports they may be sold for as much as $40,000 online.

The tickets are supposed to be free to the public and distributed through congressional offices.

Lawmakers' offices won't get the tickets until shortly before the inauguration, to try to prevent scalping. In-person pickup will be required.

"These tickets are given for free to people. This is a major civic event of the time, and no one pays for their tickets, and we believe no one should be required to pay for their tickets," Feinstein said in an interview.

In addition to eBay, Feinstein aides said they are looking at writing to Craig's List and possibly other sites. An eBay spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.

Feinstein said she was readying legislation for Congress' lame duck session that begins next week to make scalping the tickets a misdemeanor punishable by a yet-to-be-determined fine.

She said her own Senate office received 8,000 ticket requests the first day after the election.

Feinstein said she's also concerned about security for the event, which will occur outside the Capitol with crowds likely spilling over the National Mall.

"I am very concerned that this be as secure as is humanly possible. It's a difficult area to secure and we need to give it special attention and that is in the process of being done," she said. Feinstein said she was "of course" concerned that Obama would be a particular target as the nation's first black president.

"We're going to do everything we can to see that he is fully protected," she said. Feinstein will be attending a security briefing Wednesday with the U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service and the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee.

Aides couldn't estimate how many people would likely come to Washington, D.C., on top of those with tickets.

"If you don't have a place to stay I think you ought to reconsider coming. It is very cold that time of the year and it's going to be very difficult to get around," Feinstein said.


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  • by rocky mount Location: nash county on Nov 10, 2008 at 08:26 PM
    50 years ago was good for WHO?Not Martin luther king not freedom fighters. Definetly not my parents whom at the time farmed and never had the proper education at the time of thier birth.1921 and 1926 who worked hard all their life and one of which never would have thought this day of American history would be possible.Forget 50 years I'm living in the now. Finally....
  • by ??? Location: NC on Nov 10, 2008 at 06:59 PM
    So Dianne Finklestein actually takes time out from her gungrabbing goal in life to try and ban the sale of these tickets.
  • by ??? Location: NC on Nov 10, 2008 at 05:47 PM
    I wouldnt waste my time if they gave me the ticket, paid for my gas and a room for the night.I really dont care to watch my country disgrace itself more and more all the time.Lets turn back time about 50 years when America was still great.
  • by Kimo Location: Belhaven on Nov 10, 2008 at 05:08 PM
    Selling these tickets is just llike stealing.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 10, 2008 at 03:34 PM
    might as well he got 700 million from poor people that he promise everything to ,if he gives you all what he said he would ,WHY WORK,YOU DON'T NEED TO!!
  • by Anonymous on Nov 10, 2008 at 03:33 PM
    With the current state of the nation, I'm glad a Senator can find time to focus on such a vital issue.
  • by Carmen Location: NC on Nov 10, 2008 at 02:12 PM
    I do not think its wise to sell those tickets. There is no telling who could enter the event. It would be dangerous for anyone who attended. Plus, it would cost the tax payers more money for the increased man power it would take to guard.
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