Scott Brown, Scofflaw Scalper?

Senator Scott Brown, who I recently criticized for using July 4, patriotism, and the Red Sox for fundraising purposes, has launched another baseball-related fundraising effort -- and this one seems like it might be in violation of state laws against ticket reselling.

I've been trying to get some clarification from the Massachusetts Attorney General's office, and additional details from Brown's campaign and the Spinners, but am still waiting for responses -- and at this point on a sunny summer Friday afternoon, I am pessimistic about getting much before Monday, so I thought I'd share what I know for now.

The Lowell Spinners are holding a "Scott Brown Bobble-Head" giveaway promotion for their game of August 30 -- with the 1st 1000 through the gate receiving the item. (Sponsored by Zoll Medical. You may recall Brown making a big campaign appearance at Zoll HQ with its CEO Richard Packer, to make the case that the medical-device excise tax in the national health care reform bill would bankrupt companies like Zoll. Immediately after the reform became law, Brown signed on as cosponsor of a bill to repeal that specific piece of the legislation.) Also, Ayla Brown will sing the National Anthem.

Fine, so far. But now the Scott Brown for US Senate committee is selling tickets to the game -- along with bobblehead and food at the game -- for $75.

From the main solicitation for the event on Brown's web site:

Please join me on August 30th for a baseball game in Lowell to cheer on the Lowell Spinners as they take on the Staten Island Yankees. 

Tickets are $75 per ticket for adults and $50 per ticket for children 12 and under.  Your ticket price is also a contribution to my campaign and includes special access to the Spinners Gator Pit with complimentary food.   And, that's not all -- the Spinners will be giving out bobble heads of...yours truly. ...

Sounds like reselling to me. If you go through the 'Events' listings, you get a page that seems even more direct, with no mention at all of 'contribution':

Monday, August 30, 2010 - 8:45am - 9:45am

Please join me on August 30th for a
baseball game in Lowell to watch the Lowell Spinners in action. 
Tickets are $75 per ticket, children 12
and under are $50 per ticket.  We will have premium tickets in the Gator
Pit, food will be provided, and they will be giving out bobble heads of
yours truly.

But regardless of how they describe it, the action seems pretty straightforward: they're buying tickets to the game, and then providing them to other people in exchange for payment.

I may not be a legal eagle, but I do work every day on Brookline Avenue two blocks from Fenway Park, and I think I know scalping when I see it.

Needless to say, face value of Spinners ducats are well under $75 (actually, under $10), but that doesn't matter under the Commonwealth's anti-scalping law (updated, with some controversy, just a few years ago), which applies regardless of markup. Only licensed ticket resellers are allowed to resell tickets, and I'm pretty certain the Brown committee is not licensed.

So, if I was doing what the Brown committee is doing, I would be pretty clearly be subject to a fine of not more than $500 for a first offense.

The law does have some exemptions, but I believe those refer to situations where all the proceeds -- from sale and resale -- are all going to a charity. 

As I said above, I have asked the AG's office (headed by Brown's vanquished opponent Martha Coakley -- awkward!) to explain to me whether the statutes would apply here. I'll let you know what I find out.


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