NH towns often stuck Presidential campaign bills
Print This Post
(DURHAM, NH) New Hampshire is used to welcoming sitting Presidents, often as they campaign for a second term. But a visit from Air Force One comes with motorcades, increased security, and unexpected overtime for local police departments. While local officials across the state are happy to host Presidential candidates, several towns have tried to collect from the campaigns for their extra expenses.Presidential Barack Obama’s campaign rally in Durham two weeks ago drew national attention not just for the President’s attack on Republican rival Mitt Romney. Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig estimated that the President’s visit would cost the town $20,000 to $30,000 in overtime for police officers providing security and directing traffic for the motorcade. Obama for America declined to reimburse Durham, arguing that the extensive security costs were requested by the Secret Service. An anonymous donor came forward ahead of the campaign stop, pledging $20,000 to help pay for the unexpected expense.
Officials in other New Hampshire towns that hosted Presidential and campaign stops say they have also been unable to get campaigns to pay for their visits.
Hudson Police Chief James Sartell was a Sergeant in 2004 when Vice-President Dick Cheney held a campaign rally at a local manufacturing plant. He says then-Chief Dick Darling and the Board of Selectmen asked the Secret Service to reimburse the Police Department for the extra details. He says the town got a letter back saying that they could ask the Bush-Cheney campaign for payment, but that the campaign was under no obligation to pick up the police tab. Sartell says he doesn’t think Hudson ever followed up with a request to the campaign.
Sartell worked a detail for the Cheney visit, and was happy to host the Vice-President, but he says such high profile events mean a lot of time and money for local police.
“Back in 2004, we had our share of protesters,” Sartell remembers. “It certainly taxes your infrastructure.”
The Romney campaign rolled into Hillsboro in May, highlighting federal stimulus funding for an historic bridge that no longer crosses the river. Town Administrator John Stetser says the town assigned six policeman for the Romney visit at the request of the Secret Service, with no promise of ever being paid back. He told NH Watchdog that he had not contacted the Romney campaign.
“The Police Chief might have,” Stetser explained. “We discussed it, but haven’t done anything about it yet.”
Stetser has since resigned as Town Administrator.
The Obama Campaign stop in Durham is not the first time police expenses have sparked a political fight. Nashua Mayor Rob Wagner billed the White House $20,000 for President George Bush’s 1992 campaign event in the city, but did not send an invoice when President Bill Clinton visited Nashua two years later. That prompted a protest from State Republican Chairman Steve Duprey.
Between New Hampshire’s First in the Nation Primary and it’s status as the most closely contested only swing state in the Northeast mean the Granite State will continue to be a frequent stop for Presidents and Presidential hopefuls. And local officials can try to get paid back for the extra expenses that come with national political attention. But Presidential campaigns don’t have to pay up.
Jim Geraghty reports at National Review that the Romney campaign has been reimbursing local police departments, including three payments to the City of Manchester.
From July 2011 to April 2012, the Romney campaign paid $37,425.15 to local police departments in the expenditure category of “security,” according to data filed with the Federal Election Commission. In addition, there are separate payments to individual officers who are, presumably, working in their off-hours to handle event security; the Romney campaign has spent a total of $111,865.34 on security.
The amounts range in size from $3,640, in an undated payment to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in Columbia, South Carolina, to $72 to the City of Chandler in Arizona. Several local police departments are paid several times; the Manchester, N.H., police department was paid $415.76 in October and two separate payments for the same amount dated December 2. Obviously, these amounts are unlikely to cover the entire costs for the campaign events, but at least local taxpayers are spared some of the expense for the police overtime.
One Comment For This Post So Far
NH: Towns often stuck presidential campaign bills « Watchdog News
[...] Read the complete story at New Hampshire Watchdog. [...]