Three and a half years after a rally by then candidate Barack Obama in Springfield, city officials in the state capitol say they are left holding the bill for police overtime.Sadly, what Springfield fails to comprehend is that the President firmly believes he has the right to engage in massive spending sprees and to demand that taxpayers foot the bill.
On August 23, 2008 the Obama campaign rolled through central Illinois to announce Joe Biden as its Vice Presidential running mate...
Thousands turned out in the square by the old State Capitol to witness the announcement. But before the event could begin, the city of Springfield had work to do, said Alderman Frank Edwards.
“There are a lot of things that they asked for,” Edwards said. “Extra police, move things. You’ve got to have this A to Z and we provided that.”
The event went off without a hitch. Obama moved on to Denver, got his party’s nomination and ultimately a history-making general election victory.
But back in Springfield there remains one piece of unfinished business: an unpaid bill for $55,480.
“What they refused to pay was the $55,000 associated with police overtime for extra security,” said city Budget Director William McCarty...
On March 10, 2011 Alderman Edwards wrote the White House and the president “…to request your help.”
This latest round of appeals began, Edwards says, when he was going through a list of unpaid bills...
"I got to looking thru the list and here’s a bill that pops up, its $55,000,” Edwards said in an interview. “And we go why isn’t this paid.”
Since 2009, McCarty says city officials have tried to determine who was responsible for the overdue debt.
“They contacted the DNC. They contacted the Obama campaign,” he said but no one wanted to pay. “That’s when the finger pointing began because the Obama campaign said we are a private organization, we are not responsible for the security.”
To try and cut through the clutter Edwards asked the President to intercede: “…sometimes only the executive himself can cut through such inter-departmental differences of opinion,” he wrote in last year’s letter. There was no immediate response.
On November 15, 2011, Teal Baker, the Deputy COO of Obama for America, replied the Obama team wasn’t responsible for security or other costs.
This week a campaign officials said: “Presidential campaigns are not responsible for security costs.”
If a question persists Teal Baker wrote: “…we assume it should be directed to the U.S. Secret Service.”
Springfield officials contacted a local representative of the Secret Service but McCarty says they didn’t get too far, telling them: “We don’t pay bills out of here, you’ll need to contact Washington.
Springfield officials say there is a serious side to the debate about the bill. Like many American cities Springfield is in a terrible budget crunch and last week there were 13 laying offs.
“Fact is $55,000 is enough to cover the salary and benefits of one of those employees for a year,” McCarty said.
There have been other big visits to Springfield, including President Bush in April 2005 to dedicate the Lincoln museum. And the February 2007 presidential announcement by Barack Obama. Neither left outstanding bills.
The Obama 2012 campaign declined to be interviewed but a official reiterated on background without attribution that the campaign does not pay for police overtime.
Springfield remains stuck with the bill. City officials aren’t optimistic they will recover the $55,000, but they will keep trying.
“I mean it all comes back to common sense,” said Edwards. “If you are asking for something to be done and you know it cost money then you ought to be prepared to pay for it. It’s that simple.”
Whether it's the $800 billion dollar stimulus bill or the $55,000 campaign event, it is the taxpayers who must absorb the huge costs; the fact that the Obama campaign had asked for the extra security at the aforementioned campaign event is completely irrelevant.
And, while it is true that Obama did pay up the bills for his 2007 visit to Springfield, it is also true that, back then, he was still a small time politician, hence he could ill-afford to ruffle any feathers in his home state. However, upon winning the November 2008 Presidential election, there was no longer any need for him to foot the bill for his [August] 2008 campaign event because he was now King, hence his loyal subjects were now required to cover all his expenses.