Heitkamp campaign picking up all costs for Biden visit

A Heidi Heitkamp campaign spokeswoman said any costs associated with the Nov. 1 visit of former Vice President Joe Biden will be paid to the city of Fargo. Mike Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — The city of Fargo will be paid for providing security for former Vice President Joe Biden’s Nov. 1 visit to Fargo to stump for Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Mayor Tim Mahoney and a Heitkamp campaign spokeswoman said.

Four officers provided traffic control for the rally at the Fargo Air Museum, and a fifth officer helped provide security inside the building, according to a Fargo Police Department spokeswoman.

The traffic control officers worked five hours apiece, billed to the Fargo Air Museum at the special detail rate of $51 per hour, for a total of $1,020, Officer Jessica Schindeldecker said.

The officer working inside the event venue worked four and a half hours at $51 per hour, for a total cost of $229.50, which was billed to the “Heidi for North Dakota” campaign organization, Schindeldecker said.

Julia Krieger, communications director for the Heitkamp campaign, said that the organization was awaiting the final bills from the Air Museum.

Krieger said the campaign is "committed to" paying "for everything," including any expenses related to air traffic control for the vice president's trip.

“We don’t have to (work to) get any money back" because it is being paid, Mahoney said.

The security and traffic costs of accommodating Biden’s visit proved to be much lower than President Donald Trump’s two visits to Fargo this year to campaign for Rep. Kevin Cramer, Heitkamp's opponent.

Trump’s Sept. 7 visit for a Cramer fundraiser at a south Fargo hotel cost the police department more than $14,300, according to a detailed breakdown by the police department.

Mahoney told The Forum in mid-October that he had reached out to Republican Party representatives and to Cramer to ask if there would be any payment for providing security and traffic control for that event. Mahoney said neither the party nor Cramer offered to pay anything.

The June 27 visit by Trump for a full-house campaign rally at the Scheels Arena, required extensive planning, intelligence work and crowd and traffic control and coordination between all of the metro area’s law enforcement agencies.

The local costs for that event topped $104,500, and officials said that all of that would be borne by local taxpayers.

Mahoney said a couple of things played into keeping the costs down for protecting Biden, who was vice president for eight years during the administration of President Barack Obama.

The rally site — the Fargo Air Museum — is next to Hector International Airport, where Biden flew in.

“You could get him in and out of there quite easily” without the security needed for downtown or interstate driving, Mahoney said.

The crowd at the campaign rally wasn’t overwhelming - a few hundred people. And the former veep and longtime Delaware senator doesn’t attract the level of protest as President Donald Trump, Mahoney said.