When President Barack Obama visited Atherton for a fundraiser in February, the town had a chance to put its new special events ordinance into effect and asked the hosts, Steve Westly and Anita Yu, to repay the costs the town incurred for the visit.
It appears the matter now has achieved a sort of internet fame. That's because a trove of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and posted on the WikiLeaks website include a chain of emails about the bill Atherton sent to Mr. Westly.
The emails, with the subject line "Bill for POTUS", show DNC staffers trying to figure out what to do about the bill.
The first email, sent to the DNC's Northern California finance director, Robert Erik Stowe, on April 26 from Mr. Westly says: "Thank you again for allowing us to host the President in October. ... We just received this bill from the town of Atherton and I wanted to ask how you would like us to handle this. I will do whatever you would like here including paying the bill. We are very loyal to you and the president. Thank you. Steve Westly."
The next day Mr. Stowe wrote back: "Sorry this keeps coming up Steve. Our CFO and lawyers are working on this issue and I should hear back from them sometime today. If all else fails and you want to take care of the bill to get them off your back, the DNC will most definitely reimburse you. Erik Stowe"
Mr. Westly's question apparently was passed from staffer to staffer. An email from the DNC's events director Ellen Thrower on April 26 shows the bill was a matter of contention. " Lordy be ... I figured it was too good to be true, us hearing nothing from Atherton about charges, but here it is. ... Can we let him pay it, as a homeowner, and we pay him back? His standing in the community is important to him so there is no question that he will pay it if push comes to shove. Let me know what you think. Ugh. Thank you!! Ellen Thrower"
Mr. Westly later told one of the staffers that he was fine with waiting. "Let's wait a week or two and see what your lawyers come up with. We can figure out repayment later," he wrote to Mr. Stowe. This prompted Ms. Thrower to gush about Mr. Westly: "Copy. He's just too fab :-) So calm. Ellen Thrower."
The chain of emails does not say what the DNC finally decided to do about Atherton's bill, but Mr. Westly's office says he was reimbursed. The town says Mr. Westly paid the $5,909.79 bill in full in early June.
The emails can be found on the WikiLeaks.org website.