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Missoula Co. leaders warn statewide candidates they'll have to pay for security, other measures

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Posted at 7:54 AM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 09:54:40-04

MISSOULA — Worried about the expense of hosting regional campaign events, Missoula County commissioners plan to warn statewide candidates they'll have to pay for security and other measures.

But commissioners stress the policy has nothing to do with any particular political party.

Missoula County leaders are still bristling over the costs the county faced when President Donald Trump came to Missoula to campaign for US Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in 2018. Commissioners say it cost over $12,000 for security and other expenses. Staff says even though the county billed the campaign organizations they were essentially "ghosted" and never saw a dime.

Commissioners developed a policy of paying up in the aftermath of that event and on Thursday, the board discussed the need to warn any campaigns they'll be receiving a bill for direct costs this year. But Commissioner Dave Strohmaier says it is "erroneous" to think the county is picking on any one party. He says the billing would apply to anyone scheduling a huge, public event.

"And that is not the case. That was the reason we drafted this policy in the first place was to make it entirely transparent that, regardless of political party or affiliation, our expectation is that Missoula County taxpayers ought not to be footing the bill for partisan campaign events," Strohmaier said.

Commissioners directed staff to write a letter that can be sent out in advance to all the statewide campaigns informing them of the county's intent to bill costs.