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Jacksonville seeks $150,000 from GOP convention host committee

An invoice shows itemized expenses including $69,974 in overtime costs for the Sheriff’s Office, $9,862 for Fire and Rescue and $69,777 to a consulting firm.
The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville was scheduled to host the Republican National Convention.
The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville was scheduled to host the Republican National Convention. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Oct. 18, 2020

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville city officials are seeking reimbursement for more than $150,000 in expenses for law enforcement costs, consulting fees and other funds spent preparing to host the National Republican Convention that never took place in their city.

The festivities, which were to be held in Jacksonville in August to formally reanoint President Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president, was scuttled because of concerns over the coronavirus.

City officials told the Florida Times-Union that they have been assured by the 2020 Jacksonville Host Committee that it will be repaid.

Jacksonville had been selected to host Trump and other Republicans in late August after a disagreement over social distancing with North Carolina’s Democratic governor prompted the party to scale back festivities in Charlotte.

Jacksonville officials, including Mayor Lenny Curry, had openly sought to host the event. Curry had assured residents that taxpayers would not be on the hook for the convention.

Jordan Elsbury, chief of staff for the mayor, said the city and the host committee have been “working together over the past couple of weeks to resolve any balances the city had.”

He said the city has been assured “timely payment.”

An invoice dated Oct. 6 shows the city’s itemized expenses, including: $69,974 in overtime costs for the Sheriff’s Office, $9,862 for the Fire and Rescue Department and $69,777 to a consulting firm that was assisting the city secure more than $30 million in federal grants to help pay for security during the multiday event.

In a report to the Federal Election Commission, the host committee did not show any payments to the city, the Times-Union reported.

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