By Ryan Ekvall | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — While thoughts and prayers go to fellow Americans braving Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, this meteorological October Surprise does offer a silver lining to Wisconsin taxpayers: They won’t be on the hook for campaign stops by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
Obama’s campaign canceled the Democratic incumbent’s scheduled stop Tuesday to Green Bay so he can monitor the storm and the Federal Emergency Management’s response from the White House.
“As he said at FEMA HQ (Sunday), the President has instructed his team to make sure that needed federal resources are in place to support state and local recovery efforts. Additional details about the President’s schedule will be announced as soon as they are available,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in an email.
Romney’s campaign, likewise, announced the Republican challenger would cancel his rally scheduled for Monday night in West Allis, explaining in a statement, “This is a time for the nation and its leaders to come together to focus on those Americans who are in harm’s way.”
Where Obama and Romney supporters lose the chance to get revved up a week before Election Day, Green Bay and West Allis taxpayers will save tens of thousands of dollars in police, staff and Secret Service costs.
The Obama taxpayer-subsidized get-out-the-vote event would have cost “anywhere between $8,000 and $10,000 for the services we would offer,” according to Dawn Foeller, finance director of Green Bay told Wisconsin Reporter. “I don’t want to disclose too much because I don’t want to get in trouble with the Secret Service, but that would include the police and fire department, and maybe some traffic control services.”
Cost details for the Romney event at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis were not immediately available, but would ostensibly be split between the fairgrounds – which has its own police department – and the city’s public works department.
The State Fair Park Police Department could not immediately be reached Monday for comment.
Paul Ziehler, West Allis city administrator, said the city doesn’t tabulate the costs because, “It’s never worth our time because we don’t get reimbursed for it anyway.”
Wisconsin Reporter reported earlier that presidential candidate’s security detail costs taxpayers roughly $44,000 a day in Secret Service costs in 2008, money hosting municipalities never see repaid.
“Even back in the ’80s, (President Jimmy) Carter came to (Milwaukee Area Technical College – West Allis), we’d have to make so many assumptions about how long he’s here and the police costs and public works or barricades. It would be another reason we’ve never done it. It’s a big job to do. If we got reimbursed it would be worth it,” Ziehler said.
The Secret Service received a $1.66 billion appropriation from Congress for fiscal year 2012. That includes $113 million for detail on the 2012 presidential campaign.
The Secret Service could not immediately be reached Monday for comment.
Former President Bill Clinton and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, both of whom come with Secret Service security, are expected to campaign in Wisconsin later this week.
Contact Ryan Ekvall at email@example.com