Published August 22, 2012
The Democratic National Committee has informed a Connecticut town it will not be reimbursed for the thousands of dollars the city spent on costs for President Obama's fundraising visit earlier this month.
Gordon Joseloff, the first selectman of Westport, says he was informed this week the town's request to have the DNC and Obama for America cover the $14,812 the city paid in police and fire overtime was denied.
The president traveled to the area on Aug. 6 to attend a fundraiser in Stamford and a $35,800 per person dinner at the Westport home of movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Local officials even shut down two popular public beaches to accommodate the president. They closed the 238-acre Sherwood Island State Park so the president's helicopter could land, and also closed the roughly two-acre Burying Hill Beach -- adjacent to Weinstein's mansion.
The New Haven Register reports that an executive of the Democratic National Committee wrote that as a private organization it did not participate in security, traffic control, fire or emergency planning. She referred questions to the Secret Service.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. on Wednesday called on Obama's campaign to step up with the money.
"It is shameful that President Obama believes the taxpayers of Westport should pay for $14,812 of expenses incurred for his political campaign fundraising events. The Obama campaign should immediately reimburse the town for those costs," he said. "It's bad enough to close down a public beach and a state park in the middle of a heat wave in order to park the helicopter for a campaign event, but to expect the town taxpayers to also foot the bill -- for events which raised millions of dollars for partisan events that relate solely to Obama's re-election -- is over the top."
Joseloff tells CBS New York he knew not to expect reimbursement for security costs during a private presidential visit, but pointed out the president raised $2 million for his re-election campaign during the trip.
"I think if somebody really wanted to do a good deed for the president, they could make a donation to cover the cost, get a tax deduction," Joseloff said according to CBS New York. "We'll be happy and hopefully they'll be happy."
This isn't the first time local officials have gotten in a dispute over payments for security costs to accommodate presidential candidates. The city of Newport Beach, Calif., for months has been trying to get the Obama campaign to pay $35,000 in security costs for a fundraiser earlier this year. According to the Los Angeles Times, though, the Romney campaign did reimburse the city for security costs at a Republican fundraiser.
In Westport, Joseloff added the president also had the opportunity to soften any hard feelings in the town about the visit's costs by holding a public event, such as visiting a nearby 9/11 memorial. He noted that though the memorial was just yards from where the president's helicopter landed, Obama did not visit it.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.