NORFOLK – GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s carefully-orchestrated announcement in front of the USS Wisconsin in August that Paul Ryan was his running mate spoke volumes about the battle for Virginia this November. Because the Commonwealth is one of a handful of states that could determine the outcome of the election, it’s a popular stop for both campaigns.
All the political attention comes at a price to taxpayers. 13News looked into the cost of providing security for these high-profile visits to Hampton Roads, specifically the overtime paid to officers who work the events.
In June, when Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a high school commencement in Virginia Beach, that cost taxpayers $9,000 in overtime.
When President Barack Obama held a rally at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach in July, the overtime bill was $$17,800.
The OT bill for Mitt Romney’s September rally at the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo was $21,000.
A number of people feel the overtime costs for security are something the well-funded campaigns should pick up.
”It’s on the politicians. They’re running for the campaign. They’re coming here. They should pay for it,” one taxpayer stated.
Christopher Newport University political science professor Quentin Kidd says localities are large enough and experienced enough to handle such events. The question is whether they want to be a part of an important civic debate.
“Our leaders and we all have to ask ourselves ‘how important is it to hear these candidates in person?’ Security is an important expense to participating in these events,” Kidd states.
People told us they don’t want to be left with the expense of providing extra security to hear the candidates say in person what they hear them say on TV every day for free.
”It ends up being a waste of time and a waste of our tax money when they come in for show and put on a show,” a Norfolk resident said.
With record amounts of money being raised by both campaigns and all that’s being spent on negative campaign ads, many people wondered why the candidates can’t pick up at least some of the costs for the security details that protect them.