At the end of September, Republican Donald Trump’s campaign paid a $37,000 bill for police overtime costs related to a rally he held in Bridgeport before the April 26 primary.
The city didn’t have a contract with the Trump campaign before the event at the Klein Auditorium, but it billed the New York real estate developer’s campaign in June and hoped for the best.
The city also billed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the $37,000 in police overtime it incurred as a result of her visit to the University of Bridgeport on April 24. The Clinton campaign has not yet paid the bill and did not respond to requests for comment.
“We billed the campaigns because we need the money. We were trying to close a $20 million deficit and police overtime was a major budget-busting item,” Av Harris, a spokesman for Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, said.
But Bridgeport isn’t the only city where rallies were held in April before the primary.
Before his April 23 rally in Bridgeport, Trump paid the city of Waterbury $7,000 to use Crosby High School and the city has billed his campaign $1,700 for the additional police needed to staff the rally, which was attended by more than 3,000 people.
In Hartford, Trump rallied at the Connecticut Convention Center on April 15 with an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 supporters.
But the Capital City, which is struggling with a $22 million budget deficit this year and a projected $50 million deficit next year, decided it wasn’t going to bill Trump, Clinton, or Bernie Sanders for the police overtime necessary to make sure the rallies and events they held were safe. Clinton held a conversation about gun violence at the YMCA and Sanders held a rally along the Connecticut River.
The police overtime for all of the visits by the candidates cost the city $58,359.
“It’s a very significant cost for our cash-strapped city,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, said. “That said, there are costs associated with living in a Democracy. We have a basic responsibility to keep our residents safe and to allow for a vibrant political discourse. I would love for campaigns to reimburse Hartford for costs associated with their visits, but we can’t make that a condition of their being here.”
New Haven also played host to both Clinton and Sanders at the end of April.
Hillary Clinton held a roundtable event in New Haven on April 24 with working families to discuss the need to raise the federal minimum wage and her policy proposals to provide equal pay for women.
Earlier that week, her husband, Bill Clinton, made a surprise visit to Pepe’s Pizza.
The Clinton’s cost New Haven about $5,302 in police overtime.
That’s slightly less than the $5,444 the Sanders campaign cost the Elm City for a rally on the green attended by as many as 14,000 people.
New Haven Police Officer David Hartman said the costs for the Sanders event would have been higher if the officers and command staff were receiving overtime, but the vast majority were on regular time.
“Had this been a strictly overtime assignment, the cost would have easily risen to the tens of thousands, including all of the planning meetings and administrative costs,” Hartman said.
He added that the city has not been reimbursed for the cost by either the Clinton or Sanders campaigns.
“The city would certainly welcome reimbursement from the respective campaigns, and would prefer it if these obligations were met as part of what it costs to deliver a candidate’s message, but New Haven is very rarely reimbursed for overhead incurred at comparable events,” Laurence Grotheer, a spokesman for New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, said. “It turns out to be another responsibility the city accepts as a regional hub.”
Larry Noble, an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center, said it’s rare that a campaign would be quick to pay a bill for police overtime if there was no contract drafted in advance.
“You have to look at the actual contract drawn up between the city and the presidential campaign. If there is an actual contract between the two, and usually there is one, then there should be no gray area,” Noble said.
He said it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the campaigns are late in paying their bills.
With political campaigns there is no ability for a vendor or the city to take the campaign to court to collect a debt so there’s little motivation for a campaign to make a payment in a timely manner.
All campaign committees that either have money or owe money must continue reporting to the Federal Election Commission until the funds are completely disbursed and all the debts are paid.
The textbook example of this is the 1984 presidential campaign of Sen. John Glenn. Glenn wasn’t able to repay all of his campaign debts until 2007.