Saturday, August 28, 1999

Sheriff sues Democrats for cost of protecting Clinton




BY PHILLIP PINA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis is suing the Democratic National Committee and the U.S. Secret Service to recover the cost of protecting President Bill Clinton during a fund-raising visit to Amberley Village last month.

        The suit, filed Friday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, seeks $8,490.34 for equipment costs and overtime paid to deputies.

        President Clinton visited Hamilton County on July 23, flying into the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and riding in a motorcade to Amberley Village. Police agencies in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio took part in the security detail.

        While there was no written contract, the sheriff's lawsuit said the Secret Service's request for assistance qualified as a quasi-contract.

        And because the visit was political — about $500,000 was generated at a fund-raiser at the home of attorney Stanley M. Chesley — the political party should foot the bill, the lawsuit states.

        Sheriff Leis billed the DNC $6,082.84 in July. The party said he can send the bill, but he won't collect any money.

        It is the job of the Secret Service to provide security for the president, said Nick Jacobs, DNC spokesman. That includes when he is on the job, on trips and even on vacation. On all presidential visits, the Secret Service works with local officials to provide security.

        The sheriff's bill included overtime expenses for 47 deputies and other department officials used in the security detail. The lawsuit adds $2,407.50 in equipment costs, including use of one bomb truck, two motorcycles and 37 cruisers.

        “It is the sheriff's duty to protect the president when he is in Hamilton County,” said Tim Burke, co-chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. He labeled Sheriff Leis' lawsuit as nothing more than politics. Sheriff Leis is a Republican. President Clinton is a Democrat. There is no precedent for the sheriff's claim, he added.

        “Is this a new policy they are announcing, or is what they want is for no Democratic candidate to come into Hamilton County?” Mr. Burke asked. “This is ridiculous.”

        Sheriff Leis could not be reached for comment Friday night. His spokesman, Stephen Barnett, has said in the past the bill was sent to the DNC because on the July 23 presidential trip, unlike others, “there was no public event. It was purely political.”

       



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