Donor awaits security cost total
The final tally of local security costs for last weekend’s presidential visit will determine the amount of an anonymous donation proffered to help offset the expense.
The donor will not give money directly to local law enforcement, but has committed to making a donation to a charitable organization that is yet to be identified. Camilla Auger, Pitkin County Democratic Party chairwoman, said the donor came forward because some people had suggested the extra money spent on security might mean local arts or human service programs would suffer.
Auger said the anonymous donor made the pledge with the intent of making the presidential visit a more positive experience, after negative publicity about the cost of beefed-up law enforcement borne by the local community made headlines. She said she is not at liberty to release the donor’s name, but she did say it was a local person who came forward completely voluntarily.
Joe DiSalvo, incident commander for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s office, said his department is “working on the figures,” but the final tally of security costs associated with Saturday’s visit by President Clinton and the first lady won’t be available for about two weeks. He declined to estimate the cost.
Auger said Monday there has been more than a little confusion on the part of the press as to the amount of the donation, which she said has been reported as anywhere from $18,000 to $100,000.
“As soon as we have an amount that everyone feels is a valid number, we can report that to the donor,” Auger said.
The current consensus among law enforcement, the local Democratic Party organization and the donor is that the money will go to a charity agreed upon by all, Auger said.
Auger said she shares the donor’s hope that Aspen will continue to be a place where heads of state want to visit, regardless of party affiliation or nationality.
“Aspen’s image is that world leaders are welcome here, and we want to maintain that image,” she said. “It’s quite a compliment that they are interested in coming to our community.”
She said she is pleased the Clintons spent much of their time with local officials and citizens. While the funerals of John F. Kennedy Jr. and King Hassan II of Morocco cut the Clintons’ visit to Aspen short, it was their personal plans for rest and recreation that suffered, Auger said.
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