New York City taxpayers are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for the NYPD security details that accompany Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, nearly every weekend as they hopscotch America in his quest for the White House.
South Bend taxpayers have no such burden.
The Indiana town’s mayor, Pete Buttigieg, who is also barnstorming the nation in his bid for the Oval Office, picks up the costs via his campaign coffers, paying for private security as needed.
The tale of two mayors emerged as de Blasio’s campaign trips add up and the NYPD refuses to disclose to the public that’s paying for all just how much it’s costing.
The NYPD foots the airfare, hotel, rental car and meal bills for all the detectives assigned to de Blasio and McCray on campaign outings. Since de Blasio announced his candidacy on May 16 — and even before — the dual entourages have trailed the couple on more than two dozen trips.
NYPD Stays Mum
The NYPD has refused to divulge to THE CITY expense totals, say that would allow the public to “extrapolate” the scope of the mayor’s security and make him vulnerable.
On Wednesday, Phil Walzak, an NYPD spokesperson, repeated the department’s choice to keep the cost secret, stating, “NYPD policy has been clear, and goes back many years and across multiple mayors. The NYPD, as a matter of long-standing general practice, does not comment on security measure of protected officials. That includes numbers of personnel, vehicles, cost and hotels.”
An analysis by THE CITY on Monday estimated taxpayers have so far spent at least $100,000 on travel costs for the NYPD guards. A former detective assigned to past Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s detail said typically 10 to 12 NYPD staff accompany the mayor on every trip.
Lis Smith, press secretary for Buttigieg, confirmed to THE CITY that the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, population 102,000, does not make his constituents foot the bill for his security.
“We pay for security from the campaign,” she said, noting that Buttigieg does not employ a coterie of South Bend cops to shadow his every campaign move, but hires retired cops or ex-Secret Service agents, and only for some events.
In February and March, for instance, Buttigieg’s campaign spent $2,249 on private security on a handful of specific dates, according to his campaign finance reports.
Buttigieg is outpolling de Blasio, and has raised more money than him.
Lawsuit Threatened Over Secrecy
Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel has filed a public records request on behalf of three New York City residents demanding details on the de Blasio security teams’ costs from the NYPD. He told THE CITY Tuesday he’d file suit if the NYPD refuses his request.
“Once we obtain this information, we will request the de Blasio campaign to reimburse NYC and its taxpayers,” Siegel said.
THE CITY’s reporting on the issue followed de Blasio’s scramble home from Iowa after a blackout crippled hunks of Manhattan Saturday night. The last-minute travel arrangement appeared likely to exceed the cost of federal expense guideline for public employees that’s followed by the NYPD.
On Wednesday, the mayor canceled a planned weekend return to Iowa, citing an expected New York heatwave that could test the local electrical grid.
City Hall didn’t return calls for comment.
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