Clinton, Trump stops to cost W. MI taxpayers nearly $40K

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Left: Hillary Clinton during a Nov. 7, 2016 rally at Grand Valley State University's Allendale campus. Right: Donald Trump during a Dec. 21, 2015 rally at the DeltaPlex.

ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for their campaigns, but when it comes to security for West Michigan visits, local taxpayers are footing the bill.

During a presidential election year, emotions can run high, especially this year. So it makes sense to have officers present to keep everyone safe. However, 24 Hour News 8 has learned those additional forces are costing our community thousands of dollars.

Clinton’s Monday afternoon rally at Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus is expected to cost taxpayers more than $20,000. Roughly $15,000 of that bill is for Grand Rapids officers and about $5,500 is for law enforcement from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office was also involved in the security detail, but did not have an estimated bill Monday.

Trump’s Monday night event at DeVos Place will cost local taxpayers an estimated $16,500 in security, bringing the total bill to nearly $40,000 for one day. That doesn’t factor in the dozens of other campaign events West Michigan has hosted over the past few months.

Even the private events cost taxpayers, 24 Hour News 8 has learned. A small Trump fundraiser back in September cost $7,000 in security by Grand Rapids officers.

Smaller cities have some of the biggest bills. When Trump came to the DeltaPlex in Walker, the police department had to send half of its department to cover the event, which means a big overtime cost.

The candidates’ campaigns have raised that amount many times over, according to one online watchdog group. So why aren’t Clinton and Trump paying?

“All I can tell you is that public safety is our role that’s what we do and in incidents where candidates draw large, mass number of people, there’s a potential for issues and we plan to be there on hand if anything should happen,” said Sgt. Terry Dixon with the Grand Rapids Police Department. “We are in charge of the protection and safety of this community to the best of our ability that’s what we plan to do.”

Michigan State Police say they do not track the costs of troopers at political events and does not bill candidates for those costs.

Local communities can recover some of their costs, but it’s not easy and the likelihood of getting any reimbursement is low.

Costs associated with presidents and presidential candidates in West Michigan during the 2004 and 2008 campaigns:

  • July 30, 2004: Campaign stop by President George W. Bush in Grand Rapids. It cost a total of $63,654.06: $39,705 in police protection, which the city did not issue a bill for; and $18,800 in public works, also not billed. Grand Rapids Community College billed the campaign $5,149.06, which was paid in full.
  • Aug. 1, 2014: Campaign stop by then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry in Muskegon. The city spent $10,569 for police, fire and public works. It never issued a bill. 24 Hour News 8 did not collect the costs incurred by the county.
  • Aug. 1, 2014: campaign stop by Kerry in Grand Rapids. The city paid a total of $52,936.17, breaking down to $33,835.95 in police protection, and $2,444.52 billed to the media and $16,655.70 billed to Kerry campaign for IT and rentals. The city did not issue a bill for police protection. It was reimbursed by the media pool and the Kerry campaign for IT and rentals.
  • Sept. 13, 2004: Re-election campaign stop by President Bush in Battle Creek. The city spent $27,125.46, mostly on police coverage. They were paid $1,000 by the Republican National Committee for other costs.
  • Sept. 13, 2004: Campaign stop by Bush in Muskegon County. The City of Muskegon spent approximately $9,000 to assist  with security. It never issued a bill. 24 Hour News 8 did not get figures from Norton Shores, where the event was held, and Muskegon County law enforcement.
  • May 14, 2008: Campaign stop at Van Andel Arena by then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, at which point he had Secret Service protection. The city paid $12,185.86 for Grand Rapids police and another $2,000 for Kent County Sheriff’s Department coverage, for a total of $14,185.86 that it never billed for.
  • Sept. 17-18, 2008: Campaign stop by U.S. Sen. John McCain and then Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Grand Rapids. It cost a total of $20,756.01: $14,262.81 for Grand Rapids police and $5,200 for the sheriff department, neither of which issued a bill. Grand Rapids Community College billed the campaign $1,293.20, which was paid in full.
  • Oct. 2, 2008: Campaign stop by Obama in Grand Rapids at Calder Plaza. It cost $4,945.12, not including the cost of county resources. The Obama campaign was billed and paid $1,456 to the city. $3,480.12 in police costs were not billed.