Wisconsin law would stop Trump from skipping out on campaign rally bills

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Donald Trump has frequently stiffed local governments who spend hundreds of thousands on security for his campaign rallies.

Two Wisconsin state legislators introduced a bill on Monday to force presidential campaigns to pay for local governments' security costs for their rallies.

The bill specifically cites outstanding debts incurred by Donald Trump's campaign, which has left local governments across the country to shoulder hundreds of thousands of dollars in security costs for his events.

The Recovery of Unsettled Municipal Payments Act, proposed by state Sen. Jeff Smith (D) and state Rep. Amanda Stuck (D), would "prohibit a presidential or vice-presidential campaign with outstanding bills from receiving a permit for another event until all debts are paid." It would also allow Wisconsin's municipalities to charge campaigns for police and sanitation in advance.

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In a press release, the two noted that both the cities of Eau Claire and Green Bay, Wisconsin, "still have outstanding bills for presidential campaign visits from the 2016, with the biggest offender being the Trump campaign." As of Sunday, they added, the two are owed a combined $56,778 for 2016 Trump rallies.

This is part of a larger pattern of rally-and-ditch by Trump's campaign. As of June 2019, the Center for Public Integrity reported that he owed more than $841,000 combined to at least 10 local police forces that provided security for his rallies. More than $470,000 of that is owed to the city of El Paso, Texas, where Trump held an event last April to promote his plans for an expensive border wall.

Stuck argued in the press release that "property tax payers should not be left on the hook for the increased cost to local law enforcement agencies" when presidential candidates visit Wisconsin. Smith added, "It's one thing to ask for our vote, it's another to ask us to pick up your tab." He said the bill would send a message of "Pay up, or don't come back!"

In October, the city of Minneapolis angered Trump by requesting advance payment of $530,000 for security for his Target Center rally. Trump refused, saying this was a "probably illegal" attempt to "price out Free Speech."

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the now-defunct Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign also owes Wisconsin municipal governments $18,705.

The bill's prospects are "unclear", the paper said. Both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature are led by pro-Trump Republicans.

Asked about the bill and the debts, a Trump 2020 campaign spokesperson said Monday in an email that the "U.S. Secret Service, not the campaign, coordinates with local law enforcement for the protection of the President of the United States. The campaign itself does not contract with local governments for police involvement. All billing inquiries should always go to the U.S. Secret Service."

Trump is scheduled to hold a rally on Tuesday at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.