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Mike Pence Fails to Pay $24K Tab at Gay-Owned Club

Mike Pence

Pence racked up a massive security bill for an appearance at a fundraiser in Aspen, Colo., and a local sheriff wants him to pay so that taxpayers don't have to.

Earlier this week, Mike Pence appeared at a fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association at the gay-owned Caribou Club in Aspen, Colo., where the price tag for entry was $35,000 per couple. Now Pitkin County Colo. Sheriff Joe DiSalvo is calling Pence and his team out for failing to pay the $24,000 security bill.

"We had a SWAT team from Garfield County here that I want to see get reimbursed. We had Carbondale officers here that I want to see get reimbursed. They don't have this kind of money -- I don't have this kind of money," DiSalvo told the Aspen Daily News.

"I guess the whole thing is generally just somewhat disappointing to me," DiSalvo said. "You raise $700,000 in an hour, you should be able to pitch in to support the community that made you feel welcome."

DiSalvo estimated that Pence was in town for less than 24 hours. The visit required staffing of "64 total police officers on that assignment in the 20 or so hours that he was here, totaling 519 person hours," DiSalvo said. "Out of those 64, 14 were state troopers, and we don't have a responsibility to pay them. But the 50 other cops that were here are all on the county dime."

The sheriff was in touch with Pence's senior political adviser Marty Obst ahead of the event, but since DiSalvo began trying to collect the debt of $24,000, Obst has gone radio silent.

"When I first talked to [Obst] before the visit, he was all smiles and grins, but I know how this works: They put you on hold until they leave and then they don't talk to you again. He has not returned a single phone call in two days," DiSalvo said.

The sheriff has also been in touch with Billy Stolz and Richard Edwards, the gay men who own the Caribou Club. Ultimately, the event was sponsored by a client of the club, so he doesn't hold the owners responsible for the bill.

It's not the first time a campaign event was held in Aspen, but leaving taxpayers with the tab is not protocol.

In the past, taxpayers have not been left on the hook for security costs of private campaign events, County Commissioner Greg Poschman told the Aspen Daily News.

"The donors for Hillary [Clinton] paid. They understood; they paid it. When [Donald] Trump's people came in, it took a little more cajoling, but he paid it," he said. "But does our sheriff really need to call up and make a strong suggestion that they pay their bill before they leave town? That doesn't sit well with me, and I'm guessing it doesn't sit well with the community, either."

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Tracy E. Gilchrist