WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) —
Free tickets to President Barack Obama’s inauguration originating from House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) have surfaced for sale online.
An investigation by The Hill found highly sought tickets for the event for sale on www.CraigsList.org, with information indicating they originated from the two congressional offices. While the sale of tickets to the inauguration, scheduled for Jan. 21, isn’t prohibited by law it is heavily frowned upon by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, The Hill said Wednesday.
Members of Congress are allotted tickets for admittance to the seated and standing room viewing areas to distribute to constituents. Most do so through a lottery system.
Pelosi press secretary Drew Hammill said in an email: "Our office has implemented a number of procedures to ensure that no one is able to do such a thing with tickets through our office. We will continue to monitor such websites and ask that any posts be taken down immediately."
Portman’s press secretary, Caitlin Dunn, said none of the senator’s tickets had been distributed, but pledged to make sure none are sold for a profit.
"If there is a way for our office to determine who is trying to make a profit off the tickets, we’ll see to it that those tickets in question are given to Ohio constituents free of charge," she said.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., who led the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies in 2008, introduced a bill that would make selling tickets to an inauguration a federal crime. It passed the Senate with bipartisan support but was never taken up in the House of Representatives.
"The presidential inauguration is one of the most important rituals of our democracy," Feinstein said at the time. "The chance to witness it should not be bought and sold like tickets to a sporting event."