Jul 30, 2014

The President is Falling Behind on His Security Bills

Newport Beach wants to be reimbursed for police costs during the president's campaign stop nearby. But other cities haven't had much luck collecting on similar tabs.

The President is Falling Behind on His Security Bills

Will the Southern California city of Newport Beach have to send a collections agent to the White House?

Earlier this year, the city mailed President Barack Obama an invoice for $35,043 to cover security costs it says were incurred during his February visit to a breakfast fundraiser in .

The tab was due June 9, but no payment ever landed. So, this week, a past-due notice will be sent, city officials said.

"The city’s normal billing process is to send past-due notices 30 days after the original due date, then again at 60 days," city spokeswoman Mary Locey said. "If no payment is received 90 days after the original due date, the matter is sent to collections."

Don't hold your breath, Newport Beach.

Obama's campaign has similar bills piling up across the nation. Last month, officials in New Hampshire tried and failed to recover costs from an Obama campaign trip to Durham. A private donor later offered to foot the bill, according to  a CBS affiliate in Boston.

Obama also owes money to Beantown, according to the  Boston Herald, which said Boston forked out $150,000 to $200,000 to keep Obama safe during a series of reelection events there.

Messages to the Obama campaign seeking comment on Newport Beach's invoice weren't returned.

Fred Smoller, a professor of public administration at Brandman University, criticized the various local attempts to bill Obama. Instead of handing out invoices, cities should be honored when a president comes to town, he said.

"I think it is a political stunt meant to embarrass the president. Did Newport charge the White House when Reagan, G.H.W. Bush and G.W. Bush came to town for fundraisers?" Smoller asked. Obama "travels with 500 or more people, including the Secret Service and the press, and they stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants and buy gas from local stations, all of which puts money into the local economy. So, I wouldn't be surprised if the city comes out ahead."

Locey said Newport has billed other politicians in the past, although she offered no specifics.

In 2012, the city has definitely been an equal-opportunity invoicer. Newport recently billed Mitt Romney's campaign $10,441 for money the city spent on police and security measures during the Republican presidential hopeful's June 1  campaign stop at the Balboa Bay Club and Resort. (City Manager Dave Kiff said Obama's bill was higher because the president's visit required several miles of street closures.)

Romney's tab is due July 21, and may prove easier to collect. After the candidate visited a Manchester, N.H., high school earlier this year, for example, his campaign coughed up the money for security services, according to a  story in the Huffington Post.

But getting the president to pay up could be a tall order.

"I assume they can try having his paycheck docked, but I doubt they will be successful," Smoller said. "Especially since he appointed the Treasury secretary."

Do you think the president should be responsible for security costs incurred by cities during his campaign stops?

This story originally was published in Newport Beach-CoronaDelMar Patch.

Don’t miss updates from Patch!