Portland is owed thousands from political campaigns. Other cities found ways to make them pay

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. What a day. Let’s get right to it.

What we’re talking about

Portland taxpayers have been left holding the bag for thousands of dollars in police overtime bills racked up by political campaigns for as long as anyone in municipal government can remember, according a city spokeswoman. But some cities receive prompt repayment when politicians come to town.   

When a presidential candidate visits Portland, as Republican candidate Donald Trump will on Thursday, the city coordinates with the campaign and Secret Service to determine whether extra police officers are needed. And in some cases, Portland, like many other municipalities, will bill campaigns for the cost of police overtime.

For instance, Portland charged Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign $262.59 for police overtime incurred at a private fundraiser in September 2015. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign was billed $675.50 for a March rally, and Trump’s was charged $1,583.81 for police overtime during his last visit to the city in March.

None of these bills have been paid, according to Portland spokeswoman Jessica Grondin. And she’s not optimistic that they will be soon.

But other nearby cities and towns have had no trouble getting the real estate mogul’s campaign to cough up the cash for police overtime.

Trump made three stops in Nashua, New Hampshire, during the state’s recent first-in-the-nation primary. The campaign asked for additional police presence at the event, according to Karen Smith, business manager of the Nashua Police Department.

Nashua sent the Republican campaign three bills totaling $1,778.51 for police overtime during the campaign events, Smith said.

When asked if Trump paid the city, she replied, “Yes, promptly.”

Portland, like Nashua, doesn’t always bill for police overtime at political events. If the request for additional officers comes from the Secret Service, both cities often don’t seek reimbursement, as was the case in Portland when it provided an estimated $26,000 worth of police work for President Barack Obama’s 2014 visit to support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud. And Bangor’s police force doesn’t bill at all, Deputy Chief Brad Johnston said.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling suggested that New Hampshire cities may have an easier time getting reimbursed because of the state’s importance as the first primary contest.

“It’s a very important political state, you don’t want locals there angry at you,” said Strimling, adding that campaigns should pay their bills regardless of where they hold events.

But Karen Senecal, Portsmouth police business manager, said that in past years, bills from her city often would go unpaid. So this year they tried something new.

We were constantly being owed lots of money by all the different campaigns in prior years, so what we did this year is we make the candidates prepay,” said Senecal.

This system worked well through the primaries, she said. Through the general election, the police and fire departments will coordinate with the Secret Service to bill campaigns preset amounts for some events, she said.

“We got tired of holding the bag,” said Senecal. “They have to prepay, and we do take credit card.” — Jake Bleiberg


A Norwegian man was arrested after Portland police received death threats — A Norwegian tourist traveling through Portland with his family was arrested after threatening in an email to kill police officers here with explosives and assault rifles, authorities said.

Federal agents and local police arrested 28-year-old Espen Brungodt without incident at the Old Port hotel where he was staying with his family, who were unaware of his threats, according to Portland police.

The Cumberland County sheriff is investigating whether the jail violated Muslim women’s rights — The probe centers on whether jail officials improperly released mugshots of the women arrested at the Black Lives Matter protest last month that shows them without their hijabs. 

The story behind the untimely demise of a downtown sandwich shop  — Kathleen Pierce has the background on why a sandwich shop run by a serious chef in the heart of downtown folded after just a few months.

Big ideas

Will Trump follow in LePage’s footsteps? — During a discussion I had with Political Editor Robert Long about the incredible past few days of Trump’s campaign, he pointed this out:

“Trump’s political trajectory continues to closely mirror LePage’s — a fact the governor again mentioned on WVOM this morning. Respected party insiders ran away from LePage, which only strengthened his populist appeal with voters who despise government and the system. LePage parlayed four years of what pundits called gaffes into a relative cakewalk to re-election. Will Trump try to follow suit? What’s seen as a gaffe by political pundits appears as endearing honesty to disenfranchised voters.”

‘Political rhetoric exaggerates economic divisions between rural and urban America’ —  From Brookings: “Notwithstanding these political divisions, a close look at the data shows that urban and rural America are not as distant, economically or geographically, as the rhetoric may suggest.”

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.



Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.