Local Politics

Fayetteville taxpayers pick up tab for campaign security

Posted January 16, 2017 6:25 p.m. EST

— The presidential candidates are no longer running, but many cities still are – pursuing campaigns to pay the bills for the extra police the cities provided during campaign rallies.

A Center for Public Integrity analysis found at least three dozen municipal governments and law enforcement agencies nationwide that say presidential campaigns have ignored hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills for security for campaign events.

Fayetteville and Cumberland County aren't among the cities and counties that have sent invoices to the campaigns of Republican President-elect Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, meaning local taxpayers are footing the bill for police who worked at their rallies.

Trump visited the city twice, including a March appearance at Crown Coliseum where a supporter sucker-punched a protester being led out by a few of the more than 100 Cumberland County deputies working at the event.

Clinton didn't visit Fayetteville during her campaign, but her husband, former President Bill Clinton, made two stops in the city on her behalf. President Barack Obama also held a rally for Clinton at Fayetteville State University a few days before the election.

Mayor Nat Robertson said Fayetteville budgeted $50,000 to cover police overtime for security at campaign events, not knowing if it would be reimbursed.

"We spent about $42,000," Robertson said. "We kind of took it on the chin as far as being reimbursed."

Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis Wright said overtime for deputies is usually handled with compensatory time off, but he said the sheriff's office was able to squeeze some money out of its budget to pay for some of the overtime.

Robertson said city officials never bothered to ask for reimbursement because they didn't think they would see any money for the effort.

"My understanding is there is no reimbursement available," he said. "If there is, we don't know the resources to go to for that. We've got a pretty sharp team, and I'm sure, if that money was out there, we'd be finding it."

Neither the Trump nor the Clinton campaigns acknowledge in federal campaign financial disclosures that they owe cities a cent for security, according to the Center for Public Integrity. The campaign of Democrat Bernie Sanders does list in its campaign filings $449,409 in expenses to nearly two dozen municipalities and law enforcement agencies for security, the group reported.

Local security expenses didn't stop when the campaigns ended in November, either. Robertson said Fayetteville also had to provide officers to accompany former Gov. Pay McCrory and Gov. Roy Cooper, who was then attorney general, when they visited neighborhoods ravaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew.