Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders may not remember much about the rallies they each held last year in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
But officials at Green Bay City Hall sure do. And they’re miffed the three politicos have stiffed them on police protection bills totaling $24,000.
“We appreciate, and we feel honored, when the candidates come to Green Bay,” said Celestine Jeffreys, chief of staff to Mayor Jim Schmitt. “We are also very appreciative when they honor their debts.”
Green Bay is no anomaly.
At least three-dozen municipal governments and law enforcement agencies say presidential campaigns have ignored hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills stemming from police security for campaign events — from Vallejo, California, to the University of Pittsburgh. That’s according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal campaign disclosures and municipal invoices, as well as interviews with more than 60 local government officals.
Presidential campaigns asserted in communications with some city governments that they’re not responsible for many security costs. But this widespread failure to pay follows an election season when many presidential candidates — particularly Trump — argued that law enforcement deserved both more resources and more respect.
Trump’s campaign alone hasn’t paid nearly $204,000 worth of police-related invoices, according to municipal billing records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.
And Trump arguably owes more.
That’s because the Trump campaign — despite receiving demand letters and collection notices — doesn’t acknowledge in federal campaign financial disclosures that it owes cities a cent. Nor does the Clinton campaign, which hasn’t paid at least $25,000 in bills. The Sanders campaign, in contrast, says in federal campaign filings that it owes $449,409, spread among nearly two-dozen municipalities and law enforcement agencies.
The differing approaches make it difficult to determine just how many security-related bills have been sent to the major White House hopefuls since their campaigns began touring the nation in earnest in mid-2015. The Trump, Clinton and Sanders campaigns wouldn’t comment.
Complicating cities’ collection efforts: local officials often can’t force campaigns to pay unless they signed a formal, contractual agreement with the campaigns, which many have not.
Contract or not, many mayors, police chiefs and city managers say presidential candidates who profess to support law enforcement should back up their words with dollars.
“There shouldn’t be much debate about it — cities across America provided protection at a cost and should be reimbursed for it,” said Mayor John McNally of Youngstown, Ohio, which is still waiting for the Sanders campaign to pay a nearly $6,000 bill for security the city provided at a March 14 campaign event.
‘The City may pursue all of its remedies’
Rhetorically, Trump supports police with aplomb.
“The police in our country are not appreciated. We do not give them the kind of respect that they have to have,” Trump said in a campaign video from February. Several prominent law enforcement organizations later endorsed him.
On Monday, Trump marked National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day by tweeting six pictures of himself standing with police offers and other emergency personnel. “Thank you to all of the men and women who protect & serve our communities 24/7/365!” Trump wrote.
But Tucson, Arizona, officials say Trump owes them $81,837 for security and traffic control services during his “Make America Great Again Rally” on March 19 at the Tucson Convention Center.
Spokane, Washington, is still waiting for Trump’s campaign to pay a bill of $65,124.
Tucson, which signed a contract with the Trump campaign, is particularly adamant.
The March 18 contract signed by then-Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski and Tucson Convention Center General Manager Glenn Grabski stipulated that the Trump campaign was financially responsible for “security, crowd and traffic personnel” that convention center staff deemed necessary. The contract also stated that convention center staff reserved the right to “increase or change its security arrangements” — and that the Trump campaign “shall promptly comply with such request” and pay any additional fees.