Music industry is kind to friends in Congress

April 22, 1994|By Arizona Republic

WASHINGTON -- Congressional crooning about reform changed keys when select big shots got a chance to score Barbra Streisand tickets.

Thanks to music-industry officials, whose livelihood often depends on what Congress does, eight lawmakers and 38 staffers bought tickets to Ms. Streisand's May 12 concert in suburban Washington at face value.

When tickets went on sale a few weeks ago for Ms. Streisand's first concert tour in more than 25 years, thousands of ordinary fans around the nation spent hours camping out for ducats only to leave empty-handed.

Via an April 15 letter, music officials offered select lawmakers tickets costing $50, $125 and $350 for two sold-out shows at USAir Arena in Landover, Md., on May 10 and 12.

Ms. Streisand supported Bill Clinton's presidential campaign and has held fund-raisers for other Democratic candidates.

The tickets were made available in a letter from Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and two music trade groups: the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the Recording Industry Association of America.

Association spokesman Tim Sites said 500 offers were sent to "friends of the industry," most in Congress, the Clinton administration and the media. Not every member of Congress was included but it did include members of the Commerce, Judiciary and tax-writing committees, he said.

Mr. Sites sees no problem with the preferential treatment. Industry officials legally could have given the tickets away, he said, but they decided to sell them at face value in keeping with the spirit of ethics reform on Capitol Hill.

Congress is considering a bill that would ban accepting gifts from lobby groups. Current laws are too lax, public-interest groups say.

Streisand tickets have been a scalper's dream since she started performing this year after a 22-year hiatus. Tickets for Ms. Streisand's two Washington shows sold out within an hour.

But Mr. Sites said the Streisand tickets were not a reward. Those who were offered tickets "are all just friends of the industry," he said.

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