Legislation proposing that city officials campaigning outside of San Francisco for higher office would have to pay for their security detail has moved one step closer to reality today. “I go many places without security, and many people hate me. Just ask Gavin Newsom” said oftentimes controversial Supervisor Chris Daly, shortly before the Board of Supervisors’ Rules committee approved the measure and sent it on to the full Board.
The bill would require an elected city official that often travels outside of the city for campaign activities to submit a travel schedule, as well a log of the amount of time spent on activities (such as meetings), and whether or not the activities were campaign-related. The official would then have to pay the city back for the security detail provided for them when campaigning outside San Francisco city limits.
Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2008, when it was reported that a police officer drove Newsom to his own wedding in Montana in a city-owned car.Questions and concerns about the cost of protecting politicians first arose with
Controversy continued as Newsom continued to campaign outside of the city to become California’s next governor.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who originally proposed this legislation, feels that using city security detail is “a practice that has gone unchecked, and it needs to be reined in.”
In today’s meeting, Mirkarimi speculated that the cost to taxpayers to guard Mayor Newsom for a year was close to $1 million. That’s a very conservative “guesstimate,” the supervisor noted, one calculated using a simple formula of “two to three season Special Operations bureau cops per shift, two to three shifts per day, seven days a week,” etc. That cost would go up if the Mayor had to travel to, say, Montana or to Switzerland (but since neither of those trips are campaign-related, reimbursement would not be necessary).
Mirkarimi noted that the City of Sacramento issued a request for proposal to private companies who bid on providing that city’s mayoral security. Sacramento eventually kept its own police detail, but revealed general costs to the public without compromising its mayors security.
“It can’t be a phantom budget, if (the costs) are in violation of (city campaign laws),” Mirkarimi said. “Not in this fiscal crisis.”
However, the San Francisco Police Department continuously refuses to release the costs of Newsom’s security detail, claiming that it would jeopardize his security. At today’s meeting, Assistant SFPD Chief Jim Lynch said that “the (Police) department has concerns with major areas of legislation as it stands” and that it would “have a negative impact providing appropriate security individuals facing a threat level that requires security.”
Additional reporting: Chris Roberts