Secret Service: Newport's cost concerns are misdirected

Spokesman says the city's police budget issues should have been raised with the service, not the candidate's campaign. Newport is still trying to collect from Obama after his CdM visit.

July 28, 2012|By Mike Reicher

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 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.

Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff billed the campaigns for President Obama and presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney for police security at their separate fundraisers in Newport.


Now that the Romney campaign paid its bill, the city is left in the awkward position of collecting from Obama.

"We cannot reimburse any agencies," Milien said. "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.

"There is adequate time if an agency cannot assist us and is strapped for manpower," he said, adding that the Secret Service does not have the budget for that type of expense.

But Kiff says 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."

The Romney campaign paid its bill Monday, about a month after the city sent its invoice. The Obama bill, however, was sent in May and has not been paid.

City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said that the city's billing system will be sending past-due notices.

About three weeks ago, the Democratic National Committee contacted the city and told officials to deal with the Secret Service.

The DNC and the Republican National Committee split their Newport Beach event proceeds with the respective campaigns.

"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.

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