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Rep. Pascrell: Inauguration Ticket Resale Needs Oversight

Speculative tickets and fraudulent sales would be addressed by BOSS ACT

Washington, DC, January 11, 2017

Today, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies seeking answers on how the committee is addressing the resale of tickets to this year’s Presidential Inauguration.

"There are ethical concerns with selling tickets that have been provided to the public free of charge. In the past, the Committee has implored responsible ticket marketplaces and online classified websites to not permit swearing-in passes to be sold on their sites," Rep. Pascrell wrote. "I have expressed concern about the online ticket sales marketplace and the potential for malfeasance throughout my career. An unregulated secondary market for tickets leaves consumers vulnerable to abuse."

Rep. Pascrell is author and lead sponsor of the BOSS ACT (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing), legislation creating a transparent and regulated marketplace for the sale of event tickets. At Congressman Pascrell's request, along with Congressmen Fred Upton and Frank Pallone, the U.S. Government Accountability Office is working on a report detailing the prevalence of these issues and potential solutions to increase transparency and protect consumers.

January 11, 2017

The Honorable Roy Blunt
Chairman
Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies
Room S-407
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Blunt:

It has come to my attention that tickets to the upcoming swearing-in ceremony being distributed for free by congressional offices are being made for sale online. Whether or not demand is high, there is enough interest that two ticket-selling websites, Stage Front Tickets and GreatSeats.com, are offering swearing-in tickets for a sizeable fee. Despite the tickets being non-transferable, there is no law which prevents paper tickets from being bought and sold in this manner.

There are ethical concerns with selling tickets that have been provided to the public free of charge. In the past, the Committee has implored responsible ticket marketplaces and online classified websites to not permit swearing-in passes to be sold on their sites. I would urge the Committee work with the National Association of Ticket Brokers and other groups to dissuade those who allow private profiting from a service provided to the public.

Furthermore, I am concerned that consumers may be purchasing speculative tickets in online secondary marketplaces. Without any legal requirement that tickets be in hand at time of sale, some sites could be facilitating fraudulent sales. I have expressed concern about the online ticket sales marketplace and the potential for malfeasance throughout my career. This is of concern not only in the case of the Presidential Inauguration, but also in everyday sales of concert and sporting event tickets. An unregulated secondary market for tickets leaves consumers vulnerable to abuse.

My legislation, the Better Oversight in Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing (BOSS ACT) of 2016, would require secondary sellers to verify tickets in-hand before any sales take place; it would also require ticket-selling marketplaces to disclose details on these sales. Currently, at my request, along with Congressmen Fred Upton and Frank Pallone, the U.S. Government Accountability Office is working on a report detailing the prevalence of these issues and potential solutions to increase transparency and protect consumers. These cases serve as a primary example of the problem with an unregulated online ticket marketplace, and why legislation like the BOSS ACT is so sorely needed.

I look forward to hearing how the committee is addressing the resale of Presidential Inauguration tickets and, after the event is concluded, how the committee suggests we address this problem in the future.

Sincerely,

Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress

CC: Stage Front Tickets
10270 Old Columbia Rd., Suite #150
Columbia, MD 21046

CC: Great Seats.com
5010 Sunnyside Avenue Suite 103
Beltsville, MD 20705

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