The crowd cheers as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign rally at Williamsport Regional Airport, May 20, 2019 in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. (Drew Angerer/Getty)
Days after President Donald Trump announced that he would kick off his 2020 presidential bid with an Orlando rally June 18, news surfaced that El Paso, Texas, was still waiting to be paid $470,000 from a February campaign visit.
The El Paso Times revealed this week that the Trump campaign did not pay the border town what it was owed after the “Make America Great Again” event that Trump used to tout his plans for a wall.
So far, Trump is making on-time payments to Orlando. The city received the first $72,000 installment from the campaign that was due June 3, said Cassandra Lafser, a spokeswoman for Mayor Buddy Dyer. The final installment is due June 10.
The campaign was charged $145,771.34 for the Orlando event, which reflects the total cost for using the Amway Center — $15,000 plus tax for a set-up day, and $15,000 plus tax for the event — plus other expenses and taxes, according to the contract.
“There will be additional impacts to the area outside of the event venue,” Lafser said in an email. “As with any presidential visit, these costs for police will be absorbed by the local agency.”
The Trump campaign paid $5,000 in advance to use the El Paso County Coliseum for the February rally, the Times reported. The majority of the money owed, about $381,000, is to its police department, with other costs going toward the fire department, streets and maintenance, public transit and aviation.
Beto O’Rourke, who led a counter-protest in El Paso the same day as Trump’s rally, made good on the $21,000 he owed the city.
The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit news organization, reported at least three dozen local agencies — governments and law enforcement agencies — were owed money by presidential campaigns about two months after the 2016 election.
Citing interviews with 60 local officials as well as invoices and other records, the Center reported that campaigns for Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders owed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bills from campaign events.
The rally highlights the importance of Florida and the I-4 Corridor in the upcoming campaign, with the state capable of swinging the presidency for either party.