Anonymous donor foots overtime costs for Obama's NH visit
June 25th, 2012
08:16 PM ET
2 years ago

Anonymous donor foots overtime costs for Obama's NH visit

Boston, Massachusetts (CNN) – The president's campaign visit to Durham, New Hampshire on Monday was almost derailed due to the substantial cost that a town must incur to beef up security in accordance with US Secret Service demands.

When the Obama campaign informed Durham officials on Thursday morning that it had been selected as the site for the president's rally on Monday, Town Administrator Todd Selig sent a formal request on behalf of the Durham Town Council that the campaign reimburse the town for any security-related costs incurred during the president's visit.

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"In this case our position was that we should make the request because it was a campaign related event," Selig said. "Ultimately, the campaign declined the town's request."

The campaign's response came in the form of a letter from Obama for America Chief Operating Officer Ann Marie Habershaw sent on Saturday.

"As a private organization, OFA does not participate in security or traffic control planning," Habershaw wrote. "All such decisions, including their impact on costs incurred by federal, sate or local governments, are exclusively within the control of the appropriate government officials. Should there be a question about the allocation of expenses among cooperating authorities, we assume it should be directed to the U.S. Secret Service."

But just one day before the president's scheduled arrival, the conflict over who would pay the overtime costs for Durham police and firefighters was averted when an anonymous Durham resident stepped forward and offered to reimburse the town up to $20,000 in order to allow the president's campaign rally to go on as scheduled.

According to Selig, the donation was made not out of partisan loyalty, but to allow Durham the "privilege" of hosting a sitting president.

"The donor wanted us to make public his/her sentiment that our Town had done the right thing in asking the campaign to do its part," Selig said.

If Obama was visiting Durham in his official capacity as president, Selig said that the security-related costs would likely have been a non-issue, but as a town "struggling to save money in tough economic times" the town council felt it appropriate to request reimbursement for helping to provide security for a campaign visit.

Not being sure exactly how long the president would stay in town or exactly where he would travel during his visit, Selig initially estimated the cost of paying overtime for Durham police and firefighters at between $20,000 and $30,000. But after the event, Selig lowered that estimate to $16,500 for police and $3,100 for fire support, although the exact costs are as yet unknown.

In an open letter, Durham Town Council Chair Jay Gooze and Chair Pro-Tem James Lawson explained their rationale for making the request.

"We want to be clear that our town's request was not motivated by partisan politics (a majority of Durham voters are registered Democrats) or by a want to make a national statement about campaign reimbursements," Gooze and Lawson wrote. "We have more than enough civic work on our plate. To be clear, our request came from the basic responsibility that a local government has to its residents to ensure that expenses outside our approved budget are recovered in a fair and equitable manner."

The council's request is not without precedent. In the 11 years that Selig has been the town administrator in Durham, he has not faced a situation exactly like this one – where a sitting president planned to visit his town solely for the benefit of his campaign. But police officials informed Selig that when George W. Bush visited Durham prior to his election in 2000 the town requested similar reimbursement and the Bush campaign agreed.

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Filed under: 2012 • New Hampshire • President Obama
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. StuckInTheMiddle

    And there's more where that came from! Mittens isn't the only one who has corporate clout.

    June 25, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  2. Expat American

    Anonymous Donor = Class Act!

    June 25, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. Really?

    Anonymous donor? Probably Soros.

    June 25, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    Obama12. Period.

    June 25, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  5. BeverlyNC

    Thank you to the donor who helped the town host President Obama. Democracy should be available to all and it should not stop due to funding for the People to see it live and up close. However Citizens United is the opposite of democracy and buying elections and buying candidates is not American or how we fairly see and decide on the candidates we want representing us. Republicans have destroyed our election process and filled it with lies and slanderous ads devoid of truth just because they can. Corporations should use all this money to help their employees with liveable wages, benefits, and productivity and loyalty rewards.

    June 25, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  6. marjee123

    What a shame. Romney can travel in that god awful bus around the country tie up traffic, need more security and traffic direction and not a word is said about cost. But boy let the president of the United States visit and they want him to pay for traffic and security. Wonder why, because he is a Democrat and Romney is a republican.

    June 25, 2012 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  7. Myviewis

    Leave it to Bush to pay the bill, that man always has feet on the ground. Didn't Obama realize that the town is struggling to save money in this tough economic times? And Obama and Democrats still get upset that Republicans comment on his words that the private sector is just fine? Did Obama's campaign not research this and make arrangements prior to Obama's visit? Obama does think that everything is okay, that's because he is used to hanging out with the rich, elite Hollywood gang who have no idea how much they pay for electricity, underwear, dish detergent, milk, bread, spread, cereal, vitamins and Obama himself was raised without having to worry about money, seriously, what kind of a salary did grandma make as a Vice President of the Bank of Hawaii and his mom worked for banks and the Ford Foundation and was a Doctor of Anthropoloy, they make good money and her 2nd husband made good money I'm sure working for the oil company.

    June 25, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  8. Mike in NH

    So Obama, stiffs a NH community and W paid for the same thing 11 years ago. Go figure.

    June 25, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  9. Thomas

    As a card carrying Republican I'm appalled !

    The President wouldn't need security if it was legal for every citizen to pac a concealed assault weapon !

    Romney / Rice 2013
    Guns are people too !

    June 25, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  10. enuff

    Whoever did it, good for you. It is nice to know a community can present a front without patisan sniping.

    June 26, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  11. California

    Transparency strikes yet again.

    June 26, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |