A Vermont police chief said President Obama’s re-election campaign has failed to reimburse local taxpayers after his officers had to work overtime to provide security at two fundraising events.
Trevor Whipple, the police chief in South Burlington, told Fox News that his department incurred $4,200 in overtime expenses as a result of separate fundraising events featuring President Obama and the First Lady.
“At the end of the day, I’ve submitted an invoice and they haven’t paid,” Whipple told Fox News. “It was an additional burden on our taxpayers, on our budget and we simply wanted to ask that they reimburse us.”
Whipple said the overtime was even more significant because of First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit. He said his department was not given advance notice.
And for a town of 17,000 people, he said it’s a good bit of money.
“It’s not going to break the bank, but clearly those are tax dollars that were not approved with the expectation they would be used provide security for a fund-raising event,” he said.
The police chief in the city of Burlington has also submitted a similar request to the Obama campaign – asking to be reimbursed for several thousand dollars.
“Here we are in April and we still have this outstanding debt of approximately $2,100,” Burlington police chief Andi Higbee told television station WCAX.
The Obama campaign did not return calls seeking comment. On Thursday the president held a $40,000 per person fund-raising event in a posh Washington, D.C. hotel.
Both police chiefs argue that there’s a difference between providing security for an official presidential visit and a campaign event.
“My request was not to the president, not to the White House, but to the campaign,” Whipple said. “It has nothing to do with politics. There was an additional financial burden on our agency and this was – in my mind – a fundraising event. Had the president been coming here to speak to a group or to do something that was 100 percent part of the president’s duty, I wouldn’t send anyone a bill.”
But the head of Vermont’s Democratic Party disputes that argument.
“The president is the president wherever he goes and whatever he does,” Vermont Democratic Party Chairman Jake Perkinson told Fox News. “I don’t think there’s any credible reason to be nickel and diming the security of the President of the United States or his family.”
Perkinson said taxpayers should be happy to cover the cost of the president’s fundraising visit to Vermont.
“It’s certainly not in line with any of the officers or emergency personnel that I happened to speak with on the day of the event all of whom without exception were extremely excited to have the honor and privilege to be in such close proximity to the leader of the free world,” Perkinson said.
Whipple said he does not begrudge the presidential visit and promised that if a Republican came to town and the Secret Service asked his department to provide security he would do the same thing.
“We would provide it,” he said. “We would not require payment up front. But I would submit an invoice. We don’t cross party lines.”
Perkinson called the controversy “silly.”
“Unfortunately, they want to go down this path and make an issue out of something that’s not really an issue,” Perkinson said. “As Americans we can all agree there is no debate about the importance of keeping the president and his family safe.”
The police chiefs of both cities said it’s been more than a week and they still haven’t heard from the campaign.
So will they seek the services of a debt collector?
Whipple said that wasn’t his decision to make.
“We patiently await payment,” he said.