Presidential Candidate Visits Cost Ohio Taxpayers Hundreds Of Thousands

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UPDATED: Tuesday September 18, 2012 6:38 PM

Central Ohio taxpayers have spent more than a $100,000 on law enforcement overtime for candidate visits to Ohio.

Watchdog 10 found that each time a presidential candidate or related dignitary touches down in Ohio, taxpayers are paying.

The U.S. Secret Service calls on local police and fire officials to help protect the candidates.

Romney’s stop in Powell in August cost the town more than $6,000.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has paid nearly $80,000 for visits this year.

Columbus officials said that they have not kept track of the costs this year, but during the 2008 election, the Columbus Division of Police paid $165,000 on overtime for dignitary visits.

“Guarding the president or guarding a presidential candidate is expensive in nature,” Columbus Sgt. Rich Weiner said.

The Columbus Fire Department spent $16,462 on overtime to cover costs during the past five visits.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol would not comment on how much money the department has spent on overtime costs for presidential visits, citing security concerns.

Maurice Thompson, constitutional attorney and watchdog, said that he is worried about jeopardizing tax dollars.

“It’s not like these campaigns are hard up for cash,” Thompson said.

Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott said that it was time for campaigns to pay for the extra costs.

“It’s pretty difficult on the local economy that we have to bear the costs,” Scott said. “Especially, you know, when the state’s cutting funding, the fed’s cutting funding.”

Scott said that his interview with Watchdog 10 encouraged him to talk to officials about sending a bill.

“You can guarantee after this interview we’re doing, I’m going to actually talk to some people about whether we can actually send them a bill,” Scott said.

Franklin County officials estimate that Obama’s Monday visit to German Village cost the department $20,000. That cost does not include costs incurred by the Columbus Division of Police or the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The Secret Service told Watchdog 10 it is not funded to reimburse local agencies for campaign related campaign costs. A spokesman also said the Secret Service does not suggest when or where candidates should travel.

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