Florida

UF paid Richard Spencer’s $300K security fees — by mistake. Now they want the money back.

Richard Spencer addresses the media at the Phillips Center in Gainesville on Oct. 19, 2017.
Richard Spencer addresses the media at the Phillips Center in Gainesville on Oct. 19, 2017. Miami Herald file photo

When white nationalist Richard Spencer came to the University of Florida in Gainesville to deliver a speech in October, the public safety bill — which included the cost of county police, fire, jail and court services — exceeded $302,000.

The hefty Alachua County invoice was sent to the university, which in turn paid it in full — by mistake, according to news reports.

Now the school wants its money back, calling the $302,184 check reimbursement an “internal miscommunication,” according to The Independent Florida Alligator.

UF spokesperson Steve Orlando told the newspaper that because Spencer’s appearance wasn’t sponsored by the university, school officials still need to review all invoice items before making payments.

According to WESH 2, the university had yet to inspect the costs when the money was transferred over to Alachua County.

When UF received the bill in early January, UF President Kent Fuchs said he was “disappointed,” reported WUFT.

“We’re very appreciative that University of Florida has reimbursed our general fund for these dollars and the county was happy to provide the services for the event,” county spokesman Mark Sexton told The Gainesville Sun. He confirmed that the check arrived Friday.

FHP troopers
Florida Highway Patrol troopers stand ready at the entrance to University of Florida in Gainesville as hundreds of protesters march near the Phillips Center, where Richard Spencer was allowed to speak. Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

Spencer’s Oct. 19 speech was more notable for what wasn’t said from the stage. The alt-right firebrand had to cut his delivery short by some 30 minutes because his supporters were no match for the protesters, who made up a majority of the 700 seats at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Protesters screamed and chanted “F--- Spencer” and “Black Lives Matter” throughout his speech. At one point, the protesters started a Gator football chant, yelling “orange” and “blue.”

There were five minor injuries and two arrests — one for a Gainesville man charged with resisting arrest without violence and the other for a media member’s security guard found with a pistol and a knife.

Anticipating violence, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in the county in preparation of the October event.

According to The Sun, security costs topped half a million — $793,000 — to keep the peace. Spencer and his organization paid only $10,500 for security.

The invoice sent to UF had two charges for law enforcement, asking for a total of $260,494. Among other charges, fire-rescue is listed at $19,418 and jail costs are $4,918. The invoice also lists $15,829 for the Alachua County Combined Communication Center services, for 911 overtime pay and rented radios for public safety officers. Court security is listed at $1,425.

Monique O. Madan: 305-376-2108, @MoniqueOMadan

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