Capitol Tours? Sorry, Not for Sale

Posted June 28, 2012 at 5:58pm

Want to party in the Capitol on July Fourth for $250?

You can’t. It’s against the law. But that didn’t stop some from trying.

On Wednesday,, a website that offers package deals on food, fashion and cultural activities, advertised something fun for Independence Day: Buy a $250 ticket to sample dishes from celebrity chefs and view fireworks from inside the Capitol.

MADE: In America, a nonprofit dedicated to selling U.S.-made goods, has organized Independence Day celebrations in the Capitol before.

But the marketing was a new twist that ran afoul of the law.

According to the U.S. Code, it is “unlawful” for any individual on the Capitol grounds to “offer or expose any article for sale” or “solicit fares, alms, subscriptions or contributions.”

On Thursday, the webpage that had promoted the deal was no longer available. HOH’s calls to GiltCity’s marketing director went unanswered.

A GOP aide explained that the event, slated to kick off at the D.C. Design Center nearby, is no longer holding its second leg at the Capitol. As soon as it became clear that funds were being solicited for the event, the Member of Congress who had claimed the room on behalf of the organization withdrew the reservation.

Who is this mysterious Member of Congress? Nobody on the Hill would say. One person who might be able to provide an answer is James DeLorbe, president and CEO of MADE: In America. He also didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

One of the chefs slated to cook at the event, Nicholas Stefanelli of the restaurant Bibiana, confirmed that Capitol privileges had been “removed” but said nobody was selling tickets to the Capitol proper.

“We’re a nonprofit,” he said. “There’s nothing profitable in what we do.”