An Air Force One trip to the Coachella Valley in February, designed as a fundraiser for President Trump, cost taxpayers in excess of $182,000 in personnel costs, according to documents obtained through the California Public Records Act.
Here’s the kicker: There will likely be no reimbursement.
For some, that’s a tough pill to swallow as local budgets take a significant hit amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump was in Rancho Mirage for a by-invitation-only fundraiser on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Larry Ellison’s Porcupine Creek estate. The visit not only ignited calls for a protest among Democrats, but also triggered a minirebellion at Oracle, where some employees blasted the tech mogul’s “alliance with this ignoble and destructive figure,” according to Business Insider.
The Sheriff’s Department dispatched its mobile command center, which set up in a nearby parking lot along Highway 111. A department lieutenant said it had nothing to do with protesters.
“The command post is used for numerous types of events and incidents,” Lt. Aaron Eller of the Palm Desert Station-Patrol Bureau, said.
He estimated the number of protestors at a “couple of hundred.”
“We did not take a physical count,” Eller said. “Our function is always community safety, welfare, and traffic issues.”
Bill Holzhauer, a Cathedral City resident and activist, was a principal organizer for the Democratic protest that greet Trump along Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage. Based on how he funneled the crowd of protesters, photographs and an official “crowd estimator,” Holzhauer said as many as 2,200 protesters lined the ribbon of highway.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department spent 1,547.25 hours for a total of $122,447,57 in regular salaries and benefits, according to the documents. It spent 1,112.82 hours of overtime for $42,389.90 in overtime, differential salaries and benefits for a total of $168,462.32.
Sheriff’s deputies logged 3,724.85 miles for the Trump visit, according to the documents. Volunteers donated services valued a $2,333.72.
Additionally, the Palm Springs Police Department logged about 164.5 hours of overtime. Total overtime cost for police personnel was $14,523. Officers were paid out of general funds.
The total Department cost for Maintenance and Facilities is $ 2,732.66. This includes $157.52 for parks and $2,575.14 for streets.
City personnel confirmed the following:
- Street Maintenance had nine (9) crew members that worked 96 regular hours, no OT.
- Park Maintenance had five (5) crew members that worked a total of 2 hours, no OT.
- The Palm Springs International Airport used regular Airport staffing.
- The Coachella Valley isn’t the first community to wrestle with the cost issue.
So, who pays when a presidential candidate comes to town?
The answer is complicated, William L. Rosenberg, a professor of political science at Drexel University, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. And when it comes to the sitting president, he said, the lines between political and presidential visits are “blurred,” making reimbursement even more difficult for the hosting city.
“What generally happens is they don’t make full restitution,” Rosenberg said. “Whoever receives the visit ends up bearing varying degrees of the expense.”
According to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, leading up to the 2016 election, presidential candidates racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills related to campaign events in cities across the country.
Photos courtesy of Bill Holzhauer.
- Bill Holzhauer: Bill Holzhauer
- Air Force One: Facebook