SPOKANE, Wash. — History has shown a visit from a vice president or presidential candidate can be costly and local municipalities are usually left footing the bill.
Spokane residents are wondering if that's the case after Vice President Mike Pence's visit on Tuesday afternoon, when he spoke at a fundraising event for Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
A city spokesperson said 123 Spokane Police officers and volunteers were assigned to the event to help provide security. Officers were posted inside and outside the event, at the barricades blocking streets and in various locations downtown.
The spokesperson said a majority of the officers were already on duty, but some were paid overtime. The city estimates the cost is between $20,000 and $25,000.
Officials plan on submitting the bill to the Cathy McMorris Rodgers Campaign for reimbursement. But if history repeats itself, the city will not see that money again. The spokesperson said in the past, the city has asked for reimbursements for security but has not gotten a dime of that money back.
“Essentially, when someone like the sitting Vice President of the United States comes to our community, we have a responsibility to help keep him or her from harm. We’re also protecting our own citizens from security risks that can occur when such a dignitary visits,” the city spokesperson said.
The 2012 Congressional Reserve Service Report called Presidential Travel: Policy and Costs states for security and other reasons, the President, Vice President, and First Lady must use military aircraft when they travel.
Whether a trip is for official or political purposes the Air Force pays all the operational costs for the use of the plane.
The reasons for traveling are categorized by official or political functions. Official travel is basically anything having to do with carrying out presidential duties and responsibilities. Political travel could mean attending party functions, participating in fundraising, and campaigning for candidates.
When a trip is for an official reason, the government pays for everything, including food, lodging, car rentals, and expenses related to the trip. When a trip is for political or unofficial purposes, those involved must pay for their own food, lodging and other related expenses. They also have to reimburse the government with the amount they would have paid for a commercial flight.
The White House determines whether the travel is official or political. So in the end, the administration will decide whether Pence's visit falls under official business or not, or they could find it is a combination of both. If this is the case, the government has a formula that will calculate the amount of money owed.
So the Republican Party or Cathy McMorris Rodger's campaign could pay at least some of this bill.
The last time a vice president came to Spokane was in 2006. Dick Cheney was in Spokane campaigning on behalf of Republican Senate Candidate Mike McGavick.
The police department reported they spent $17,000 for that visit. In this case, the campaign offered to pay part of the travel expenses, but security was left to local taxpayers.
KREM 2 reached out to the Cathy McMorris Rodgers campaign and they have not responded yet.
Read the security report on presidential travel and costs.