President Barack Obama flies to Connecticut on Monday for a star-studded fundraiser at movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's sprawling estate in Westport. The event means about two million dollars for Obama's campaign--and traffic disruptions, beach closings, and a surge in overtime pay for the town of some 26,000 people.
The WestportNow.com news site gave its readers a peek at what it means for a locality to play host to a presidential fundraiser, this one a $35,800-per-guest soirée featuring "The Dark Knight Rises" star Anne Hathaway and "The West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin. Joanne Woodward, Hollywood icon Paul Newman's widow, was also expected to attend.
Security for the most powerful man in the world means traffic delays as local police close off his motorcade route. Westport's Marine Police Unit will patrol the shoreline near Weinstein's home, while area firefighters and other emergency workers will be at the ready. (These kinds of preparations are not Obama-specific: Any sitting president can count on the full mobilization of local law-enforcement and first responders. Likewise, partisans on both sides of the aisle reliably express outrage about the costs related to high-profile political visits by the opposing party.) Here's WestportNow:
First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said the town expects to incur some overtime costs as part of its role in providing security for the visit.
"That's been the pattern in the past and unfortunately we do not anticipate the Obama campaign--just like those of previous president--to help us out with the overtime tab," he said.
While overtime costs are nothing new to municipalities that host a president, the report noted another disruption that might make a dent in Obama's local approval ratings.
"The Secret Service asked that state-owned Sherwood Island State Park and town-owned Burying Hill Beach be shut down for the day, leaving thousands without access to Long Island Sound waters on a hot summer day."
Obama's trip to Connecticut came as Mitt Romney raised $101.3 million for his campaign and the Republican National Committee in July, ending the month with nearly $186 million in the bank.
With that kind of cash, Romney, whose personal wealth is estimated around $250 million, could buy Weinstein's 15.5 million dollar estate six times over. Here's how the Hartford Courant describes the digs:
Weinstein, the Oscar-winning producer of "Shakespeare in Love," among other films, bought the property at 26 Beachside Ave. in 1994 for $4.2 million, according to property records for The Warren Group. The two-story, 8,900-square-foot Colonial-style house was built in 1909.
Weinstein later bought neighboring 28 Beachside in 2000 for $4 million. That property includes two smaller houses, described in town records as a Cape and a ranch, together totaling about 2,500 square feet.
The main house includes six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a spacious stone terrace. It's topped off by a heated pool. Each property has nearly doubled in market value since Weinstein purchased them, according to town records.