The Department of Interior has been receiving free tickets to The Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts for years, but according to rules that were released earlier this week, the secretary has the ability to give away these tickets to other lawmakers and officials.
The venue has offered tickets to the department since the ’70s, and while the Office of Inspector General (OIG) questioned the ethics of this tradition, the department still signed off on this deal for the next 20 years earlier this month. For each show at the Wolf Trap, the secretary will receive eight tickets, which reaches an estimated value of $43,000 per year.
“Consistent with this determination, under the new agreement the Foundation will continue to provide the Department of the Interior with eight seats for each performance,” Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, chief of public affairs for the National Parks Service, said when the deal was agreed upon.
OIG questioned how these tickets will actually be used.
On Monday, guidelines revolving around the ticketing deal were determined. The department said that these tickets will be distributed to better understand Wolf Trap’s operations and to “engage in dialogue” with government officials. However, they can also be given to other Interior employees in recognition of their good work, or on behalf of journalists to show the “importance of public lands and cultural resources,” The Hill reports.
Nancy DiPaolo, director of external affairs for Interior’s inspector general, said earlier this month that “these tickets have not been handled appropriately in the past.” Now, the office will approve the tickets in writing and identify which of the ticket criteria is being met, and anyone using the tickets can not have more than one guest.
While the OIG did not review the guidelines yet, they stated earlier this month to The Hill that they would like to see something in writing.