Schwarzenegger’s Rolling Stones Fundraiser Violates Massachusetts Ticket Scalping Law

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Local Consumers Can’t Pay $10-$100k for Sold-Out Show, Ask to Pay Face Value

Massachusetts residents want California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to comply with state laws that cap how much can be added to the price of concert tickets and make the block of Rolling Stones tickets he is selling to campaign contributors available to the general public. Schwarzenegger is hosting a political fundraiser for himself in which donors who pay $10,000 get a front and center seat to the concert and those who pay $100,000 get a ticket to join the Governor in a luxury box. Schwarzenegger reportedly received the event tickets from the tour sponsor, Ameriquest, which is embroiled in state investigations into its unfair lending practices.

In separate letters to Schwarzenegger, two Massachusetts consumers asked to have Stones tickets donated or sold at face value. Under Massachusetts’ anti-scalping law, tickets can only be resold with a minimal mark-up over face value. Consumer advocates at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights believe that $450 is the approximate face value of the seats that Schwarzenegger is selling for $10,000.

Copies of the letters can be downloaded at: Massachusetts Consumer Letter 1 and Letter 2.

“Massachusetts consumers are being squeezed out of the concert so Schwarzenegger can raise millions of dollars to push his big industry donors’ agenda in California,” said Douglas Heller, Executive Director of the California-based non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), which runs the website “Not only is he hawking tickets for a show that is sold out, he’s breaking Massachusetts’ anti-scalping law to do so. If Schwarzenegger’s allowed to sell these tickets with outrageous mark-ups so his campaign can prosper, any scalper with half a brain will find their way around the state law.”

Consumer advocates said that Schwarzenegger’s predatory scalping of these highly sought-after tickets seemed to be part of a theme for the concert, because the show’s sponsor is mortgage lender Ameriquest. That company has long been accused of predatory lending practices and recently set aside $325 million to settle allegations of unfair practices from 30 state Attorneys General, including Massachusetts. In addition to being the Stones sponsor, the company has sponsored Schwarzenegger’s political career, donating over $1.5 million to the California governor.

Schwarzenegger is selling the Stones tickets at hugely inflated rates to raise money for his campaign in order to push a series of ballot initiatives in an extra election he has called for this November. Polls show a majority of California voters don’t want to spend the $80 million estimated cost to run a special election since there is a 2006 primary already scheduled for June, according to the non-profit FTCR. Schwarzenegger, who has traveled around the country a number of times to raise money for his political campaigns, has set a goal of raising $50 million for his special election.

Since beginning his campaign for governor two years ago, he has already raised about $50 million, despite a pledge not to raise money and to sweep special interests out of California government. Early in his campaign, Schwarzenegger announced:

“Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something.”

And, “I will go to Sacramento and I will clean house. I don’t have to take money from anybody. I have plenty of money.”

When Schwarzenegger campaigned for governor during the state’s 2003 recall of then-governor Gray Davis, Schwarzenegger accused Davis of spending too much time fundraising and creating an atmosphere of “pay-to-play” in the sate government. Schwarzenegger’s fundraising trip comes as California lawmakers are putting the final touches on this year’s legislation. Last year, Schwarzenegger agreed not to fundraise during this time, because it would create an appearance that donors with bills on the governor’s desk are buying special access at this critical time.

“Arnold was elected on a promise to clean special interests out of politics and focus on the needs of Californians. Instead, he’s traveling around the country, scalping rock concert tickets for a hundred grand a piece to any special interest that wants access during the key weeks of the legislative session,” said FTCR’s Heller.

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Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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