- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Portland should follow its current policy and charge for police and other services provided when presidential campaigns visit the city, according to a report released Tuesday by the city’s auditor.

The city hasn’t billed presidential campaigns for police protection, traffic control and other costs in nearly two years, as it has done in the past, the report said. Campaign visits from October 2014 to April 2016 have cost the city at least $180,000 in police regular and overtime pay.

The audit recommended Portland charge political campaigns or event organizers for the costs of city services for future candidate visits. It said the city could require advanced deposits and let organizers know about payment before the event, and recommended that the city determine whether collecting for recent visits is possible.

“The Police Bureau fully agrees with and supports this recommendation,” Portland Police Chief Lawrence O’Dea wrote in a May 16 response included in the audit.

O’Dea said his department has tried unsuccessfully in the past to get payment from campaigns and it was unable to collect on those fees without additional support from the city.

The audit found a few cases where campaigns have reimbursed other towns and cities for police overtime, but it said it also found many other cities did not bill campaigns, or unsuccessfully tried to cover costs later.

The Portland visits, including ones from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, then-House Speaker John Boehner, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, incurred city costs, the audit said. Former Gov. Jeb Bush also came to Portland, but auditors did not find city services provided for those visits.

Estimates show city costs range from a high of at least $89,000 in city services provided to Obama during a May 2015 hotel fundraiser and speech at Nike headquarters to a low of $400 for Kasich’s April town hall meeting.

“Taxpayers and the City’s General Fund subsidized these political campaign events, even as donors were asked to contribute $500 to $12,500 at political fundraisers,” the audit said. “When City funds are scarce and the City has to prioritize many competing services, it is important for the City to recover its costs from private entities when it can.”

Portland was reimbursed only once, when an event venue requested and paid for off-duty police officers during Sanders’ visit last August.

The audit recommended that if the organizers don’t pay, the city should follow collection procedures, including charging interests.


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