Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said Tuesday he would push President Donald Trump’s campaign to pay $530,000 in city costs associated with an upcoming Trump rally, while campaign officials said they’ve reached an agreement with the rally venue operator and won’t pay anything extra.
“It’s not extortion to expect someone to pay their bills,” Frey said in a news conference Tuesday.
Trump plans to rally supporters Thursday evening in the city-owned Target Center. The Trump campaign said in a news release Monday that AEG, the private company that manages Target Center, threatened to cancel its contract for the event if the campaign did not agree to reimburse Minneapolis for security costs and other services.
A day after threatening to sue the city, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale released a statement Tuesday saying the Target Center operator had backed off and the rally will go on as scheduled.
“Consistent with our original agreement with the venue, the Trump campaign has not agreed to pay any additional funds. We look forward to seeing everyone Thursday night,” Parscale said.
An AEG spokeswoman did not respond to repeated requests for comment Tuesday. The Federal Election Commission says campaigns are not required to pay for cities’ expenses associated with their events.
The Trump campaign called the $530,000 cost estimate “ridiculous” and said it was dramatically larger than the city’s costs for a Target Center event in 2009 with President Barack Obama.
In response, Frey said “there are significant expenses associated with a campaign rally from Donald Trump.” The Obama event was about health care policy, not an election rally, he said, adding that he did not have information about that event’s cost to the city.
An aide to City Attorney Susan Segal told the Star Tribune editorial board that the city has not charged costs for these types of events in the past, including for rallies for then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, and a subsequent health care rally in 2009 after he became president. The latter event attracted protestors and was patrolled by 150 officers, the Star Tribune reported at the time.
On Tuesday, Frey said, “It’s my job to look after the taxpayers of the city of Minneapolis, and that’s not a cost that we’re just going to bear,” he said.
Frey said this was “not a political decision” and that associated security costs for future rallies in the city for any candidate would “be applied evenly and fairly.”
The $530,000 total was based on the methodology Minneapolis used to determine the costs of past major events, such as the 2018 Super Bowl and Final Four. The public safety expenses are expected to be around $400,000, and the other $130,000 would be the result of lane closure fees, traffic control and various other costs, Frey said Tuesday.
The city’s 2007 contract with AEG requires the company to cover “all operating expenses” of events in the Target Center.
Other cities have unsuccessfully tried to get the Trump campaign to pay for city costs after rallies. At least 10 cities requested reimbursements from the Trump campaign, according to data compiled by the Center for Public Integrity. The bills for rally expenses range from $8,464 in Burlington, Vt., to $470,417 in El Paso — and that’s before the Texas city started tacking on late fees.
Frey’s news conference Tuesday came after he and Trump sparred on Twitter.
Trump called the mayor a “lightweight” and said Frey is hurting the police and supporters who want to attend the rally.
“Yawn … Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors,” Frey replied.
A couple of hours later, Trump added, “Someone please tell the Radical Left Mayor of Minneapolis that he can’t price out Free Speech. Probably illegal!” and said he stands with law enforcement.
Frey shot back that someone should tell Trump he can afford to help pay for the extra time officers will put in because of the rally.
Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison supported Frey Tuesday, saying “the mayor had, I thought, a really appropriate comeback for him.”
“Jacob is an adult, a professional,” Ellison said. “I think he’s going to handle anything the president is going to throw at him really well.”
Council Member Steve Fletcher, who represents much of downtown, said Monday that “the president is putting the country through a painful impeachment process” and that “he should resign before he gets here.” Like Frey and other city officials, Fletcher said his goal is for safety for everyone downtown “regardless of their political leanings or why they’re coming here.”
The state Republican Party, meanwhile, echoed the Trump campaign’s claim that the city was infringing on Minnesotans’ First Amendment rights.
“It was bad enough for Frey to say the President of the United States is not welcome in his city, but it is simply outrageous that Democrats are now choosing to trample on the First Amendment rights of Minnesotans. This abuse of power would set a dangerous precedent in what is supposed to be the freest country in the world,” GOP Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said in a statement.
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