The Democratic Party denied that it sold debate tickets for thousands of dollars after allegations that the audience was “stacked” for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Many noted the audience’s bizarre reactions. Slate’s Ashley Feinberg questioned why it seemed that the audience “actively, aggressively booed because someone spoke ill of billionaires.”
“Even weirder was the angry jeering Elizabeth Warren received after mentioning an allegation from a former Bloomberg employee who claims that, upon learning that she was pregnant, Bloomberg told her to ‘kill it,’” Feinberg noted.
Bernie Sanders stoked rumors when he told MSNBC after the debate that he heard tickets cost thousands of dollars.
"Do you know how much it cost to get a ticket?” he said. “I read that it cost $1,750. So to get a ticket to the debate, you have to be fairly wealthy. Most working people I know don’t spend $1,750 to get a ticket to a debate, and that’s problematic. But, you know, that’s what the DNC did.”
Party says it pulled sponsorship offer:
Many people cited a WCSC report to back up Sanders’ claim.
“Voters hoping to attend the Democratic presidential debate in Charleston this month will be hard-pressed to find guaranteed tickets unless they pay thousands of dollars as a sponsor,” the station reported, noting that the Charleston County Democratic Party website said, "the only guaranteed way to get a ticket is to become a sponsor of the debate."
Sponsorship options ranged from $1,50 to $3,200.
But the outlet reported a day later, on February 7, that the offer had been pulled.
“But on Friday, the Charleston County Democratic Party chapter removed the sponsorship link and changed its wording to: ‘Unfortunately, CCDP will not have any tickets to distribute,’” the station reported. “Party officials explained tickets are handed out to organizers like the Democratic National Committee, CBS, Twitter and the Black Caucus Institute. Then, they are first given to paid sponsors and handed to campaigns to pass out extras.”
Democrats say tickets went to insiders:
“Let me give you the facts: The tickets were divided up between the DNC, campaigns (with equal allocation), SC Dem Party, CBCI, CBS and Twitter. We invited local and community leaders, and DNC supporters. This is the most diverse audience,” said DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa.
“Out of the nearly 400 tickets that we were able to allocate for this evenings debate, we welcomed hundreds of activists, county party leaders, community leaders, State Representatives, State Senators, candidates, & elected officials from every level of government in SC at no cost,” added the South Carolina Democratic Party.