County Sets Policy to Prevent Gaffe Like Reagan Rally Debt

Times Staff Writer

Six weeks after they quit trying to collect more than $14,000 owed the county by President Reagan’s 1984 campaign committee, San Diego County Supervisors on Tuesday adopted a policy aimed at preventing any similar occurrence.

The Board of Supervisors voted 3-0, with Leon Williams and George Bailey absent, to require private groups using county buildings to pay in advance any costs the county estimates it will incur for putting on the events.

In some cases, the county will go so far as to require that a performance bond be posted to ensure that all of the public’s costs are accounted for.


The policy was prompted by the board’s decision Oct. 2 to quit trying to collect money owed the county by the Reagan-Bush campaign for a pre-election rally held Oct. 22, 1984, outside the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway.

Although the campaign agreed to pay $1,222.83 in direct costs for the event, it failed to reimburse the county for the work time lost when hundreds of employees were forced by the U.S. Secret Service to evacuate the building during the rally.

Supervisor Paul Eckert, who had assured the public at the time of the event that the campaign would pay all costs associated with the rally, asked Chief Administrative Officer Clifford Graves to develop a policy that would prevent a similar problem in the future.

Eckert said Tuesday that the policy alone will not be enough. He said the disputed costs associated with the Reagan rally were not known until the Secret Service ordered, three days before the rally, that the building would have to be cleared.

Eckert said future county officials will have to keep that experience in mind.

“The goal of the policy is to prevent it from happening again,” Eckert said. “We’ll do that as long as people remember what occurred here.”