The best tickets for President Barack Obama's inauguration aren't necessarily the ones to the official events.
Inauguration weekend in Washington is a special opportunity for anyone interested in top-level networking. High-profile parties promise access to high-profile leaders -- for a price. Anyone willing to swipe a credit card can buy a ticket to these unofficial balls that hold out the chance to hobnob with former administration officials, lawmakers and Democratic insiders.
There's nothing nefarious about the events. Many are sponsored by interest groups. But they illustrate a booming influence game that gains momentum as the world watches Obama begin his second term on Jan. 20.
Several of the events are to be held at the Smithsonian museums, while others are scheduled for luxury hotels.