- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004


An Internet company that buys American flags from lawmakers for less than $20 and then resells them for $79.99 or more has raised concerns at the Capitol.

The architect of the Capitol alerted members of Congress last week that Internet seller Capitol Flags had used “unsuspecting members’ offices” to obtain the flags that had flown over the Capitol.

Brian Walsh, spokesman for the House Administration Committee, said the resale is “not breaking the letter of the law” but has caused a lot of concern. It’s “just price-gouging people.”

People can purchase from their congressional representative or senator, for less than $20, a 3-foot by 5-foot flag that has been flown over the Capitol. For example, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, sell the flags for $13.30, including postage. The same flag costs $79.99, plus $13.50 shipping and handling, when purchased from Capitol Flags.

Capitol Flags also offers a 5-foot by 8-foot flag for $99.88 plus $16.48 shipping and handling, according to its Web site The same flag can be purchased from the House leaders for $22.05. Inquiries sent to the company through its contact e-mail were rejected.

The architect of the Capitol, who is responsible to Congress for the maintenance, operation, development, and preservation of the Capitol complex, asked members of the House and Senate to be alert to frequent flag requests from the same person or organization.

The story first surfaced in the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call.

Eva Malecki, spokeswoman for the architect of the Capitol, said the office suspects that consumers who use the Internet to find out how to purchase flags flown over the U.S. Capitol run into a commercial reseller before discovering they can order the flag from their representative or senator for a fraction of the cost.

The office may establish a congressional Web site, which would show up at the top of Internet search lists, to tell people how to order a flag from their elected representatives.

An average of 115,000 flags have been flown over the Capitol each year since 1990.

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