Top Dollar for Top Tickets

Dems trade hot tickets for campaign donations


Prominent House Democrats are offering a trip to the Super Bowl, club level seats at a Lady Gaga concert, and tickets to a host of other entertainment events in exchange for high-dollar campaign contributions.

A gift of $10,000 to Rep. John Conyers’ (D., Mich.) reelection effort will get donors two tickets to the Super Bowl, in which the San Francisco 49ers will square off against the Baltimore Ravens, and admission for four at an exclusive luncheon at New Orleans’s upscale Bourbon House.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D., Wis.) is asking for $4,000 for a pair of club level seats at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. for a February 25 performance by pop star Lady Gaga. Singles can get one ticket for $2,500.

Donors can attend a Pink show at the Verizon Center courtesy of Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.). He’s asking for $2,500 for a pair of tickets or $1,500 for one.

The Conyers, Moore, and Deutch fundraisers appear on a list of events from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee obtained by the Free Beacon. Nine of the fundraisers involve tickets to sports or entertainment events.

There is nothing novel about the strategy, said Phil Klinkner, the James S. Sherman professor of government at Hamilton College and an expert on campaigns and elections.

"Campaigns have always used forms of entertainment as a device to get people to attend fundraisers," Klinkner said. He cited Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy at a Madison Square Garden celebrity fundraiser.

Such events "expand the pool of potential donors since someone who might not want to drop $5,000 for a politician might be willing to drop $5,000 for Super Bowl tickets." They can also be used to reward prior high-dollar donors, Klinkner said.

"The problem is that things like tickets to Lady Gaga and the Super Bowl are pretty pricey and most House campaigns don't necessarily have the upfront money to do events like this," Klinker said.

Super Bowl tickets are selling for between $1,500 and $10,000 each on Ticketmaster. Tickets for Lady Gaga’s Verizon Center show are going for between $50 and $200.

The Verizon Center, the home of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, will also host this year’s NCAA basketball tournament in March, giving members of Congress a prime opportunity to court high-dollar donors with tickets to major sporting events.

Reps. Jim Moran (D., Va.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D., Md.) are both offering tickets to the tournament’s "Sweet 16" and "Elite 8" rounds for $1,000 apiece. Rep. Bruce Braley (D., Iowa) is offering a double-header package for $5,000.

Rep. Albio Sires (D., N.J.) will keep it professional, offering a pair of tickets to a Wizards home game against the Los Angeles Clippers for $2,500.

Neither the DCCC nor the House members holding these fundraisers returned requests for comment.

Lachlan Markay   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Lachlan Markay is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He comes to the Beacon from the Heritage Foundation, where he was the conservative think tank's first investigative reporter. He graduated from Hamilton College in 2009, and currently lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @lachlan. His email address is

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