Who should pay the costs incurred by a town for a political candidate’s campaign?
Whenever the President of the United States is on the campaign trail, cities across the nation are forced to provide extra security for the visit. Many towns are facing deficit budgets and don’t have the extra money lying around to pay their police and city workers for the extra duties and the security that is mandated.
For example, in April of last year, President Obama attended a pair of fundraisers in Atherton, California at the homes of wealthy supporters. The two events netted the Democratic National Committee more than $3 million for Obama and fellow Democrats. To accommodate the visits, the city had to pay police officers and road crews to block off roads and provide the extra security mandated by the Secret Service.
In Atherton’s case, the cost came to $8,122.91. City officials believe that anyone causing the city to incur extra expenses should have to pay them. In the case of Obama’s visits, the city has submitted bills to the White House, Democratic National Committee, Secret Service and the two home owners that hosted the fundraisers. A year later, they have heard nothing from any of the parties involved and they have not received a penny of reimbursement.
While many towns continue to just eat the cost of a presidential visit, Atherton leaders are determined to recoup their money. They say that if someone had a wedding that required the city to block of certain streets that they would expect the person(s) hosting the wedding to pay for it and the same should be true for any political event as well.
Since they have not heard or received anything from the hosting parties, the city is considering the possibility of placing a lien on the properties of the two hosts and collecting their money through property taxes.
Republican or Democrat, any campaigning President or other politician should have to pay the expenses incurred by their campaign efforts. If it costs a city extra for security, road blockage or cleaning up, then the campaign or candidate should be forced to pay those costs out of the funds they raise.
In fact, I would like to see a bill introduced that would require all candidates running for any political office to pay for all costs of their campaigning. All campaign funds raised at any campaign event would be held until all expenses for said campaign have been paid in full. Then the remaining funds would be turned over to the campaign responsible for the fundraiser. Since no other presidential candidate is provided free transportation, any travel incurred by the President for campaign purposes should also be paid for out of the funds raised for the campaign. That would mean that the costs of Air Force One would be taken out of the campaign funds and not left to the American people to foot the bill.
Until such a bill is passed, and I doubt one ever will be passed, I hope more towns follow Atherton’s lead and bill the responsible parties for all costs incurred from political campaigning.