If you wanted to go to either Alabama-LSU game this year, chances are you had to pay a premium price, but more than 150 lawmakers, lobbyists and public officials were able to buy tickets at face value from the university, according to the Tuscaloosa News. Alabama’s ethics law allows public officials to buy tickets for face value, even when the general public can only get them through scalpers and online brokers for several times that amount.
Until the state’s new ethics law went into effect last year, lawmakers could get tickets for free, so perhaps that’s an improvement, but Birmingham resident-turned-activist Jim Metrock isn’t satisfied. For the last two years he has fought a public relations campaign against the special privilege for Alabama legislators.
Metrock said legislators convey an “unspoken message” to the university when they request tickets, characterizing it as: ” ‘I want to go to the National Championship game. I vote on your school’s appropriations. I want to go to the head of the line for tickets, past students, faculty members and scholarship donors. I need tickets and I don’t want to pay what my neighbors are paying, and I sure don’t want to make a contribution to any scholarship fund. I will pay no more than face value.’ ”
However, according to UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen, no threats are needed. The university reaches out to public officials with offers of tickets.
Birmingham lawyer and election law blogger Edward Still had an interesting question on his blog Sunday.
If I offered a legislator a $10 gold coin (which is on sale from the Franklin Mint for $899), would I get to argue the “face value” interpretation? Or would I be considered to be offering an $889 “thing of value”?