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Minneapolis officials: Trump rally cost the city $542,000

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The president raises his arm and waves at the crowd.
President Trump waves to the crowd as he ends his speech inside the Target Center in Minneapolis on Oct. 10, 2019.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

It cost the city of Minneapolis roughly $542,000 for security and other expenses surrounding President Trump’s Oct. 10 campaign rally at the Target Center, according to city officials, who said they’re seeking reimbursement.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey released the updated figures at a City Hall press conference Tuesday, noting the costs are slightly higher than an original estimate of $530,000.

Ahead of the rally, AEG Worldwide, which runs the city-owned Target Center, asked the campaign to cover the costs in order to secure the facility, but the campaign threatened legal action.

Frey said cities like Minneapolis should not have to cover extra expenses for events like these alone.

“The city alone should not bear the costs of keeping residents, visitors and the president safe for a campaign rally, and we will continue to seek reimbursement for the event on behalf of Minneapolis residents and taxpayers,” Frey said. “Additionally, this should provide some fodder for some conversations with an annoying uncle over Thanksgiving.”

The city’s breakdown includes $392,139 for public safety and $150,000 for other costs, including barriers and street closures.

The rally, which attracted more than 10,000 people both attending the event and protesting outside the venue, was mostly peaceful but there were instances where Trump supporters and protesters clashed outside of the arena. One man was charged with felony assault for allegedly punching a Trump supporter exiting the rally.

Trump’s campaign is known for not reimbursing cities for costs associated with his campaign rallies, and there are no rules that require candidates for federal office to do so. AEG, which has a contract with the campaign, must repay the costs to the city, either by recovering them from campaign or by other means.

Frey said he’s leaving every option on the table, including a possible lawsuit against AEG in order to recover costs. And the mayor said he wants to work with AEG and the City Council to amend the city’s contract with the company for events like these going forward. He also wants a change in federal policy that sometimes leaves cities on the hook for these costs, but he said he hasn’t contacted anyone yet about moving a policy forward.

Frey took heat ahead of the rally from the campaign and the president himself, who tweeted that the “lightweight” mayor was hurting his supporters by trying to charge his campaign ahead of time.

Frey tweeted back: “Yawn... Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors.”

The mayor, a Democrat serving his first term, has also faced criticism for taking this approach with a candidate from the opposite party. Bernie Sanders recently held a campaign rally in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota, but the university said it handled security and other costs for the event and is seeking reimbursement from the campaign.

Preliminary estimates from the university showed Sanders rally cost roughly $40,000.

“This is not an issue that is limited to one candidate or one party,” Frey said. “This is an overarching question we need to look at in terms of the costs the cities are forced to bear.”