Many communities stiffed by the campaign are facing rising COVID-19 cases and massive budget shortfalls.
Cities across the country are reeling from both the public health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic and the cratering economy it has caused. But many hard-hit communities say Donald Trump's campaign has refused to reimburse them for outstanding rally security costs.
The Center for Public Integrity reported last week that 14 cities say Trump's campaign owes them a combined $1.82 million for public safety-related costs from rallies it has held. That is more than double the amount that it owed as of last June.
Trump's campaign has repeatedly denied responsibility for the bills, claiming it is the Secret Service that handles Trump's protection and coordinates with local authorities. But the amount needed to pay the outstanding totals would be only a fraction of what Trump's campaign raises annually.
With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the cities need the money more than ever — both to respond to the pandemic and to help offset lost revenue.
Minneapolis, for instance, claims the Trump campaign owes about $543,000 for an October rally. "[D]uring this crisis, that loss is even more pronounced," Mayor Jacob Frey told the Center for Public Integrity. "$150,000, for instance, could pay for emergency rental assistance for 100 Minneapolis families."
Minneapolis is the seat of Hennepin County, which has already seen 924 COVID-19 cases and 75 deaths. Facing estimated revenue losses of between $100 million and $200 million in 2020 due to the pandemic, the city has already frozen wages, hiring, and discretionary expenses.
As of Sunday, El Paso County had reported 531 cases of the coronavirus and 88 related deaths. Last week, the El Paso Times reported that the coronavirus would cause an expected $26 million budget shortfall this year and require pay cuts, layoffs, and furloughs for city employees.
Albuquerque, New Mexico, says Trump still owes it $211,000 for a September 2019 rally. Bernalillo County, the city's home, has reported 542 coronavirus cases and 24 deaths so far. Tim Keller, the city's mayor, said Friday that the economic fallout means a serious budget shortfall that will require hiring limits, canceled travel, and cost-cutting.
The campaign also owes $93,338.01 to Battle Creek, Michigan. The city is also facing declining revenue, its city manager, Rebecca Fleury, warned earlier this month: "More people are staying home and with business closed, sales tax revenue will be smaller ... and that impacts how revenue comes back as far as revenue sharing from the state." Calhoun County, the home of Battle Creek, has documented more than 120 cases of the coronavirus and at least 5 deaths.
As the Trump campaign refuses to pay for local security measures at its events, law enforcement officials are being hit especially hard by COVID-19. More than 1,000 New York Police Department personnel have already tested positive for the virus, and 29 have died.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.