Are the Democrats Being Paid to Go After Ticketmaster Instead of All Ticket Re-Sellers?

Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP, File

There has recently been a spate of reporting about how the Biden administration has been pushing tough antitrust enforcement as a way of trying to boost Biden’s pathetic poll numbers on the economy. The theory, as cited by University of Central Arkansas economist Jeremy Horpedahl, is that Biden can override voter concerns about inflation and cost-of-living problems by bashing supposedly over-big corporations using their power to trigger price hikes. 

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Among the sweeping antitrust actions Biden’s administration has pursued has been the Department of Justice’s move against Ticketmaster. As previously noted, Ticketmaster has been blamed for high prices in the aftermath of the drama surrounding the originally-planned Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. But as Sen. John Kennedy has rightly noted, sky-high ticket prices are really about ticket resellers, not the original purveyors of tickets—who also often offer pricier tickets because artists like Swift want to make more money off their own touring.

During a Senate Judiciary hearing on Taylor Swift concert tickets – which, by the way, is probably the best way to start the year in the Senate – Kennedy basically solved the world’s entire concert ticketing problem in just a couple of minutes of questioning. 

If you want to keep ticket prices down, Kennedy argues, you need to ban or limit ticket resale. This eliminates the entire point of using bots (or old-fashioned scalpers) on a ticketing site to buy up tickets at normal prices, and then reselling them at insanely high prices on platforms whose entire business model appears predicated on exactly that. I find it pretty funny that the CEO of SeatGeek was squirming so awkwardly during Kennedy’s whole line of questioning. Why is that?

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Put simply, SeatGeek would go out of business tomorrow if a ban were instituted on selling exorbitantly priced secondary market tickets.

Chief among those ticket resellers few people are focusing on is StubHub, the biggest in the US, of which Viagogo, the number six ticket-seller on this list is also a part. Just as an aside, that’s a lot of market concentration.

StubHub and Viagogo would just love for all the negative attention on high ticket prices to center on Ticketmaster and not them. And guess what? If you take a look at the campaign giving of StubHub/Viagogo’s CEO, it sure looks like they’ve done their absolute best to incentivize the Biden DOJ to go after Ticketmaster and not them—even if they are the big problem here.

A search of campaign finance contributions done with the FEC on June 17, 2024, shows the following:

StubHub CEO Eric Baker has donated an aggregate of $829,215.68 so far this cycle. Literally all of it has gone to Democrats. All of it. $621,660.77 of it has gone to these entities:

  • The Biden Victory Fund
  • The DNC
  • PA Democratic Party
  • NV Democratic Party
  • NC Democratic Party
  • GA Democratic Party (also known as the Georgia Federal Elections Committee)
  • MI Democratic Party
  • WI Democratic Party

 So, that is all Democrats. The Biden re-elect. The DNC. And the state parties of every swing state except Arizona.

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If this doesn’t look like StubHub at least attempted to buy and pay for a DOJ lawsuit against its main corporate rival, it at least should suggest the company CEO is an extremely partisan Democrat. 

If Trump retakes the White House, he may want to remember exactly how far down on the mat StubHub went to help keep him out of office. At a minimum, this doesn’t look like a smart giving strategy given the current state of the presidential contest. And it could amplify accusations that the Biden DOJ is hopelessly politicized in favor of Biden and his allies and against Biden’s opponents.

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