The city of La Crosse Police Department is still waiting on some outstanding bills from Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And one not-so-“outstanding” bill from Paul Ryan.
Back in November, the La Crosse P.D. tried to anticipate candidates coming to the city and figuring out a way to get paid for their service. The police wanted to get 50% of their invoice up front.
It’s a lesson they were trying to learn after 2016, as police are still waiting for payment on a $6,308.93 bill to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign for his Aug. 15-16, 2016, campaign visit.
They’re also waiting on a $3,595.25 payment from the Donald J. Trump for President campaign for a Vice President Mike Pence rally from Aug. 11, 2016.
Pence also owes city police $5,574.10 for his Labor Day campaign stop at Dairyland Power Co-op on Sept. 7. Melby, however, didn’t expect payment on that one, yet.
“Given the size and the nature of a presidential campaign, as you can imagine, an invoice from the city of La Crosse Police Department probably takes a little while to get to the proper person to pay,” Melby said.
“Obviously, that’s not an explanation for invoices that are outstanding from years ago,” he added.
Aside from simply getting reimbursed, another reason police wanted to get the invoices up front was, “so these campaigns are more aware of what the expense is to our community and we could be responsible stewards of taxpayer money,” Melby said. “We would make sure that we were up front with them and then hopefully there would be a little bit of recognition of the impact on our community.”
Hillary Clinton made a campaign stop in La Crosse on April 5, 2016 and was billed just over $3,000, Melby said.
“According to our records, we did receive payment for that presidential campaign visit,” he added.
There’s also a $225 bill from a Speaker Paul Ryan bus tour, dated Dec. 31, 2016, that’s still unpaid.
In all, those three Republicans owe the city $15,703.28, which includes Pence’s stop this year.
“Obviously, we could still see payment from those,” Melby said of the four-year old bills.
The police’s idea of getting 50% up front, so they’re not in this dilemma, proved to be challenging.
Melby said they often don’t hear from the campaign until just days before it plans on making a visit — as was the case with President Donald Trump’s MAGA rally planned Oct. 3 at the La Crosse Regional Airport. Of course, that rally was cancelled by host Colgan Air Service, fearing a breach of contract with the city on its lease there.
If police were to know ahead of time, though, Melby said it would be helpful, because they would be able to do some planning, and keep the news confidential.
“We would, to degree,” Melby said. “Obviously between the Secret Service and any law enforcement agency, there’s an expectation that, if they notify us that somebody’s coming and everything like that, that we wouldn’t share the information.
“Ideally, that would work, that that would help us out and we could, at least, get a rough estimate of what our staffing needs would be.”
La Crosse County Republican Party chair Bill Feehan, apparently, could have offered that news to law enforcement.
“Well, I speak to the people that run the Trump campaign every day, so I’ve known about this for weeks,” Feehan said Sept. 28 on La Crosse Talk PM.
Having five days notice on something as big as a presidential rally just wouldn’t be enough time to plan, though. News that Pence was headed to La Crosse on Labor Day broke six days prior.
“To be able to identify how much it’s going to cost, and everything like that, and then provide some level of pre-visit invoice, was just not practical,” Melby said of the turnaround.