The Trump campaign is indignant that it is being expected to help cover the cost of extra security for a rally planned in Minneapolis Thursday. According to the campaign, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is “attempting to extort President Trump’s re-election campaign by conjuring up a phony and outlandish bill for security.”
Let us pause here to acknowledge two facts. One: the Trump campaign reported it has raised, in the third quarter of this year alone, $125 million. And two: the Trump campaign has a left a trail of bad debts, some several years old at this point, in cities around the country.
According to a June report from the Center for Public Integrity, the campaign has stuck at least ten cities with security bills that reach almost $1 million dollars combined in the last three years. The costs range from a $16,191 invoice from the tiny 20,000-person Lebanon City, Ohio, to a whopping $570,000 owed to the city of El Paso since February. (That figure includes a 21% late fee assessed when the Trump campaign failed to settle up six months after the fact.)
The report only included cities that went through the trouble of invoicing the campaign for police costs. Many, the report notes, didn’t even bother asking.
There’s some disagreement over who should shoulder the additional security cost of campaign rallies. Some campaigns always cover security costs of their events, but it’s not a universal practice. And, according to the Center for Public Integrity, “in many of these cases, there are no signed contracts between the municipal governments and the Trump campaign. The cities dispatched police officers to secure Trump’s events because they believe public safety required it — and the U.S. Secret Service asked for it.” There are other isolated examples of candidates and cities disagreeing about who should foot the bill, but few campaign have left as many bad debts in their wake as the Trump campaign.
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With the Trump campaign poised to descend on his city Thursday — and with Minneapolis Police Department cancelling days off and calling for back-up from around the state — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey came up with a plan to make sure the campaign paid for any costs associated with the event in advance.
That plan, as recounted by Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale in an righteous email to supporters Monday night: “Frey’s city government preemptively informed the Target Center that it would be responsible for $530,000 in security and other costs related to the event. The Target Center then attempted to pass the costs on to the Trump campaign under threat of withholding use of the arena.”
Parscale included an email from the Trump campaign’s lawyers threatening to sue AEG, owner of the Target Center.
Parscale tweeted the email Monday night, accusing the mayor of “abusing his power in an attempt to block the President’s supporters from seeing him speak on Thursday.” Trump himself piled on the next morning, retweeting his campaign manager and calling Frey a “lightweight mayor” who “is hurting the great police and other wonderful supporters.”
A representative for AEG declined to comment on the president’s threat or to confirm whether the event would take place as scheduled, but preparations for the rally appear to be going ahead. On Tuesday afternoon Vice President Mike Pence announced he was planning to join Trump at the Target Center on Thursday.