NEWPORT BEACH, CA -- Newport Beach's attempt to collect $35,000 from the Obama campaign for security costs just got a lot trickier.
The bill should go to the Secret Service, agency spokesman Max Milien said Monday. But the city should know that the Secret Service refuses to pay it, he added.
“We do not reimburse police agencies for assisting us in providing our protective duties,” Milien said. “This is not new. We have never reimbursed police departments.”
The city has from President Barack Obama for his February fundraising trip to Corona Del Mar, but it’s the Secret Service that is responsible for security, Milien said.
In the meantime, Newport Beach has had better luck collecting from the Romney campaign. A similar, yet cheaper bill sent to Mitt Romney's campaign for $10,441 the city spent on police and security measures during the Republican presidential hopeful's June 1 campaign stop at the Balboa Bay Club and Resort was paid on July 23, according to Tara Finnigan, city spokeswoman.
The president's was due June 9, but no payment ever reached Newport Beach. Finnigan said the Newport Beach Police Department addressed the reimbursement issue with the Secret Service during a plannng meeting before the president's stop in Newport Beach.
"Our staff was told by a Secret Service representative that the agency would not reimburse Newport Beach and that we should check with the president’s campaign or the Democratic National Committee," Finnigan said in a released statement. "The city sent an invoice to the campaign office."
As of today, the bill had not been paid. Finnigan said the city's billing system generates two past-due statements 30 days apart and unpaid invoices will eventually be sent to collections.
"The Democratic National Committee has informed the city that the invoice is not the DNC’s responsibility," Finnigan said. "The city has not spoken to the Secret Service again about the invoice nor has any member of our staff spoken to a representative of Obama for America. Therefore, we continue to believe that the invoice was correctly sent to the campaign office."
However, the Secret Service has a different version of events.
The Secret Service never advised the city to bill the campaign, said Milien, the Secret Service’s spokesman.
“I am not going to get into a debate,” Milien added.
The expense for the president’s security detail should have been straightened out ahead of time, he said.
When a presidential candidate arrives in town, the Secret Service works with local law enforcement to provide security, which may include advanced sweeps and crowd control, said Milien. At the outset, the Secret Service informs agencies they will not be reimbursed, and if the local police force is unable to assist with security, another agency will be brought in to help, added Milien.
Newport never asked for outside help, he said.
But the city isn't ready to give up on the bill.
Finnigan said because sending the past-due invoice to collections is a last resort, a member of the city's finance department recently sent a reminder email to the campaign.
In response to the city's invoice, the DNC said it did not coordinate security measures for Obama's CDM event and has no plans to pay the bill.
“The DNC did not participate in security, traffic control, fire or EMS planning. All such decisions, including their impact on costs incurred by federal, state or local governments, are exclusively within the control of the appropriate government officials," Amanda Howe, the DNC's chief operating officer, said in a letter to the city. "Should there be a question about the allocation of expenses among the cooperating authorities, we assume that it should be directed to the U.S. Secret Service."