NY-22 Minute: Tenney Rebukes Utica's Reimbursement Request, Casts Doubt on Commitment to Cover POTUS Security By Luke Perry
Cost is one lingering issue in Utica following President Trump’s visit on Monday. Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri (D) sent a letter to Claudia Tenney’s NY-22 campaign requesting reimbursement for the costs associated with her Congressional fundraiser headlined by the president, an estimated $20,000 for related police, fire, and public works. Palmieri contends this is appropriate, given Tenney acknowledged the event was an “unofficial visit” by Donald Trump.
This morning the editorial page of the Observer Dispatch called for Tenney to “reimburse taxpayers for Trump’s visit.” Tenney has been an outspoken critic of the news media, saying it's “the single biggest destructive force in our country,” and regularly targeted the Observer Dispatch since taking office. (I have served as an unpaid political analyst and columnist for the paper since in 2016.)
The Tenney Victory Fund said it will reimburse travel costs “in a standard fashion” for Trump's visit, but did not directly address the Mayor’s request. Tenney stated this “looks like retaliation” from Palmieri “because maybe if I had a picture he wouldn’t be complaining about the cost.” Tenney also said the mayor is exaggerating.
Tenney's reaction touches on Palmieri’s request of Tenney to have an opportunity to welcome President Trump to Utica. Tenney declined because it was fundraiser, not an official visit.
Rome’s Mayor Jacqueline Izzo (R) was also not invited to participate in greeting the president. She described the lack of invitation to local leadership disappointing for the community. President Trump “landed in my city,” Izzo said. “Anytime a visit of this nature occurs and it becomes political is not a good sign,” Izzo explained. She “had hoped we were past this” and would have personally handled things differently so local leaders work together. Izzo does not anticipate the city of Rome seeking reimbursement for the costs associated with Trump's visit.
Other notable elected officials, such as Senator Joseph Griffo (R) and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente (R) were not invited either. Senator Griffo was invited to, and attended, the bill signing at Fort Drum with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, earlier in the day. The fort is represented by Elise Stefanik (R) in NY-21 and located eighty miles north of Utica.
Tenney told Bob Joseph on WNBF radio on August 10, three days prior to the event, that “we have to pay for the transportation and the security for it. Yes, we do have to pay for that.” (3:18 mark) This was in response to Joseph’s question about the cost of the visit for her campaign.
Joseph then inquired about how much security and transportation was likely to run. “I don’t know, but I know it’s a lot of money,” Tenney responded. “Probably 50,000 or $100,000.”
Joseph later asked how much money the fundraiser with the president would raise. “I don’t know,” Tenney replied. “I’m guessing a couple hundred thousand.” (9:54 mark)
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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