Screenshot from livestream of Chambersburg Council Meeting held on December 12, 2022. (Robby Brod)
Chambersburg votes Doug Mastriano must pay his police bill
Update: Chambersburg Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill said Mastriano’s campaign paid its bill one week after the vote from council.
Chambersburg won’t let Doug Mastriano’s campaign off the hook for police overtime incurred during a campaign event in September.
Borough Council voted 9-1 on Monday against a request to forgive a $4,217 bill for Chambersburg Police staffing at a rally during Mastriano’s run for governor.
The outdoor rally was held at The Orchards Restaurant and featured Donald Trump Jr. as a guest speaker. The request was submitted by Vishal Jetnarayan – Mastriano’s campaign manager and self-described Christian prophet who claims to speak directly with God.
Vice President of Council Bill Everly Jr. supported waiving the bill.
“I don’t want this to be political by any means,” he said. “If another political person from another party would come in, such as Barack Obama or anybody else, I would support the police presence that was there that night to protect that person as well.”
Councilmember Kathy Leedy agreed the police presence was necessary.
“However, this was a purely political campaign event and… no taxpayer dollars should be spent on any of it,” she said. “That’s what you have campaign contributions for. I’m sure Chambersburg wasn’t the first or the last town where Senator Mariano had a rally.”
Three Chambersburg residents opposed making taxpayers foot the bill.
Patty Kramer spoke out against the measure – while reiterating her support for local police.
“I just don’t want my taxes going to someone who took busloads down to the Capitol on a horrible day that I will never forget,” she said. “And I do not support this at all.”
In 2021, Mastriano spent thousands of campaign dollars to bus supporters to Washington D.C. on January 6th – and was on Capitol grounds as the riots happened.
Bonnie Harmon has held an annual 5k for the last 14 years in memory of her late husband who passed away from interstitial lung disease in 2003.
She said they pay the police fee every year.
“I would highly resent giving this to a political person,” she said. “I don’t care which party it is. It’s not fair for taxpayers to have to support a political event. Not fair to all the people who try to raise money for nonprofits for whatever reason.”
Ela Rossmiller noted how the borough voted earlier in the meeting to raise taxes to increase the Chambersburg’s police budget.
“The police department is one of the most important institutions in the borough,” she said. “I really question the wisdom of waiving fees that would fund the police department, just as we’re charging taxpayers more to make sure that the police department is appropriately funded.”
Political figures – across party lines – have a history of not paying police fees for rallies and other special events.
Former President Donald Trump, a Mastriano ally, has a track record of not paying those bills for his rallies. Councilmember Leedy said this resulted in “news stories all over the country.”
Councilmember Leedy quoted Mastriano while emphasizing the need for a properly-funded police force.
“Mr. Mastriano said that he wanted to ensure that police get enough funding – quote – ‘to get the job done’ unquote. That’s why we charge for police services for special events,” she said. “Other people have requested waivers in the past. I do not ever recall a political candidate asking for a waiver.”
Ultimately, Chambersburg Council decided there wasn’t enough reason to have taxpayers pick up the tab.