Virginia Democrats are giving away tickets to Hillary Clinton's speech tonight

RTR3CUBIREUTERS/Kevin LamarqueU.S.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton adjjusts her glasses before testiffying on the September attack on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya during a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington January 23, 2013.

The Democratic Party of Virginia is currently giving away free tickets to an event featuring Hillary Clinton later tonight.

Clinton is headlining the party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner on Friday evening. Though the event is raising money for the Virginia Democrats rather than her presidential bid, it is considered an important campaign appearance for Clinton. The dinner is Clinton’s first campaign stop in Virginia, a crucial swing state. It’s also one of her first stops outside of the early primary states.

Tickets for the event are being sold for $US30 and $US125. However, on Friday afternoon, some Virginia Democrats received an email advertising “FREE TICKETS” to the dinner. The email was given to Business Insider by a source. It contained a promotional code to get $US30 tickets to the event for free.

An operative for one of the Republican 2016 candidates joked that the ticket giveaway showed Clinton is having trouble generating enthusiasm.

“How bad is it out there for Hillary? She’s gone from paid speeches to paying people to hear her speeches,” the operative said, referencing the past controversy over Clinton’s speaking fees.

Earlier this month there was another event featuring Clinton that had empty seats. Page Six reported a “just for women” fundraiser for Clinton on June 1 was opened to men “at the 11th hour” after some of the $US2,700 tickets went unsold.

Clinton’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, but Virginia Democratic Party Communications Director Stephen Carter told Business Insider this year’s event raised more money than it ever has before. The dinner is taking place in the 10,000 seat Patriot Center at George Mason University.

Carter said it sold “over 2,000 tickets and raised over $US1 million.” He attributed Republicans’ negative comments about the event to concern over the party’s fundraising prowess.

“It’s no surprise that Republicans are terrified of Democrats’ tremendous grassroots energy,” Carter said. “Tonight is energizing Democrats from every corner of our commonwealth and we’re ready to work hard to take back the Senate in 2015 and win the White House in 2016.”

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