Romney campaign pays Newport Beach police bill; Obama past due
Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff billed the campaigns of President Obama and presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney for security at their separate fundraisers in Newport Beach. The Romney campaign paid its bill last week, about a month after the city sent its invoice. The Obama bill for $35,000, however, was sent in May and has not been paid.
Now that the Romney campaign has paid its bill, the city is left in the awkward position of collecting from Obama.
But a Secret Service official said Newport Beach city administrators are asking the wrong people to pay for police protection at presidential campaign events.
It's the Secret Service that is responsible for the candidates' security, not the campaigns, spokesman Max Milien said, and any cost concerns should have been directed its way.
"We cannot reimburse any agencies," he told the Daily Pilot. "We make that clear from day one."
Milien explained that an advance team works with local law enforcement to plan road closures and other measures before a candidate's visit. If the local agency cannot afford to pay for extra security or overtime, the local officials should inform the Secret Service ahead of time, he said.
In that case, Milien said the Secret Service would seek help from other law enforcement groups — county or state police, for example, who would not charge for the service.
Kiff said the police department raised the issue with the Secret Service before the president's visit.
"At that time, our staff was told that the Secret Service would not reimburse the City," Kiff wrote in an email, "and that we should check with the President's campaign or the DNC."
About three weeks ago, the Democratic National Committee contacted the city and told officials to deal with the Secret Service.
"Any local law enforcement organization contacted by the Secret Service to assist in security should discuss matters related to costs and how to effectively manage those costs with the Secret Service," DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell wrote in an email to the Daily Pilot on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Kiff would just like the issue to go away.
"I am very tired of this story, but it will have legs again," Kiff wrote in an email to the City Council after the Orange County Register inquired about the Romney campaign's payment.
The city was "honored" to have the president in town, Kiff said, but he viewed the campaign fundraisers as private events.
"Had this been a 'business trip' — if the President came to Newport Beach to talk about one of his policies with our residents—the city would not have sent an invoice," he wrote in an email to the Pilot.
-- Mike Reicher, Times Community News
Photo: President Obama visited Corona del Mar on Feb. 16. Credit: Amy Senk / Times Community News