UPDATE: The National Archives Foundation has released a media statement correcting what it says are some erroneous media reports. Executive Director Patrick Madden explains below.
Hosting events at the National Archives is part of the Foundation’s effort to introduce people to the Archives and its holdings. The National Archives Foundation has handled nongovernmental events for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for nearly a decade. Each event requires approval by the NARA and event organizers must adhere to building usage practices and pay fees associated with the event. The Scarborough-Brzezinski wedding event was approved through the normal process and Scarborough-Brzezinski followed all of the procedures that the Foundation outlined and required in advance.
Funds earned from hosting events at the National Archives Building support the Foundation’s mission and provides funding for exhibits, public programs and education initiatives locally and nationally. Scarborough-Brzezinski paid the required fees to the Foundation to host the event.
While the Foundation has encouraged event planners to consider the Archives as the venue for weddings over the past few years, Scarborough-Brzezinski was the first couple to choose the Archives as their venue for a ceremony.
Madden went on to cite Section 1280.76 of NARA's regulations, which has not been updated since 2008. NARA has "routinely approved requests" by the National Archives Foundation for private events in the public areas of the National Archives Building on weekends and that NARA "has initiated the process to update its regulations to reflect current policy." Madden assured critics that no flash photography took place inside the Rotunda Galleries during the ceremony.
"Morning Joe" lovebirds Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski wed last Saturday in a private ceremony at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. They apparently pulled some strings to secure the location. Like, just about breaking federal law.
It was the first time a wedding ceremony had been held in that spot since the building opened in 1935. Brzezinski told Vanity Fair that the couple chose the hallowed American location after attending a previous event there, saying, “It makes sense now more than ever, given what we stand for as a couple, what we do for a living, and what we’re worried about as a country.”
Apparently, the couple wasn’t worried about published federal regulations barring “primarily personal, political or fundraising” events within the National Archives. Federal rule 1280.84 specifically says, “... the use of the Rotunda for private events is not permitted.” And rule 1280.76 says that even permitted, official events “are not available during weekends or federal holidays.” The wedding was held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, after the Archives building was closed to the public. (Washington City Paper)
Social media users were not impressed that this was another case of "special treatment for the elites."
Apparently rules and regulations are just for normal folks. Is there any surprise the flyover country looks on DC with distaste?— bankshot (@CoolHandLuke124) November 28, 2018
Still, Archives Foundation executive director Patrick Madden said the "Morning Joe" couple convinced the Archives to be a little more flexible on its private event policy.
"We were thrilled to be the venue Scarborough and Brzezinski selected for their wedding," Madden said.
In another interesting twist, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) officiated the ceremony.
Congratulations to Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough! It was a pleasure to officiate your beautiful wedding. I wish you years of love and happiness together!— Elijah E. Cummings (@RepCummings) November 25, 2018