It’s up to us: City will foot public safety bill this time for Trump rally – Reuters

President Donald Trump, at a January 2021 event in Texas, will headline a political rally Saturday in the Prescott Valley. Officials there do not plan to charge the campaign for public safety costs — a move other cities have tried in the past without success. (Photo by Shealah Craighead/Trump White House)

WASHINGTON — Prescott Valley officials expect crowds Saturday when former President Donald Trump brings his Save America PAC to a political rally there.

What they don’t expect is a payout: Prescott Valley — like Phoenix before it — says police protection is part of what cities do and they don’t charge for it.

A spokesperson for Prescott Valley confirmed this week that the city “will provide normal police and traffic control coverage to any major events in the community,” but that other costs associated with using the Findlay Toyota Center are managed by an external management company.

That’s not the position taken by Mesa and Tucson, which sent bills totaling more than $146,000 for services for Trump rallies in 2016 and 2018, bills that were never paid.

“The mayor and council wanted to protect the taxpayers of the community from the truly exorbitant amount of security costs associated with these events,” Lane Mandel, chief of staff to the city manager of Tucson, said of the event. March 2016 campaign hosted by Trump who was a presidential candidate at the time.

Trump will not run as a candidate for Saturday’s event in Prescott Valley, but will instead be there to rally support for the Republican candidates he backed in Arizona. These include gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Senate hopeful Blake Masters and candidate for Secretary of State Mark Finchem, among others.

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The rally, organized by his political action committee Save America, comes just over two weeks before the Aug. 2 primary election in Arizona. It’s unclear how many people will attend the event in the 6,000-seat arena, where Trump is due to speak around 4 p.m. after several hours of other speakers.

When then-candidate Trump appeared in Tucson in 2016, city officials deployed 180 police inside and outside Tucson Arena at an estimated cost of $81,000, which was charged to the Trump campaign. This bill remains unpaid.

Trump was president when he appeared at a “Trump – Make America Great Again” rally in October 2018 at Mesa-Gateway Airport. Mesa said she doesn’t charge for presidential security, but has tried to recoup public safety costs for things like crowd and traffic control at events.

The city sent the Trump campaign a bill for over $64,000, which included “barricades, security, and towing” costs. The bill was not paid, and Mesa officials later said the campaign “is not legally obligated to cover the costs.”

This argument has been used by Trump’s campaign and others. Tucson officials said they also tried to bill 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ campaign, but never collected.

The reason for nonpayment by Trump and Sanders was that their campaigns had never agreed to nor were required to pay for police protection at the Tucson Convention Center as part of their licensing agreements, and they did not not request special services from the police outside the centre. .

Trump’s campaign also said it was “frustrated with Tucson police’s refusal to do anything to control violent and angry protesters outside the convention center.”

After several failures collection attempts, Tucson dropped out.

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“Ultimately, the city determined that we were unlikely to prevail over a lawsuit to collect the money, so we stopped trying to collect that,” Mandel said.

Tucson and Mesa are not alone. The Center for Public Integrity in 2019 identified eight other cities across the country who he said were trying to claim a total of about $700,000 from the Trump campaign.

But other cities see the cost of public safety services as part of a community benefit. That includes Phoenix, which has hosted Trump rallies in the past but hasn’t charged for public safety expenses.

“Whenever there is a large-scale event in Phoenix, the city takes a holistic approach and our priority is continuity of service to our customers and the safety and security of all residents and visitors within the community. “said city spokesman Dan Wilson.

The Federal Election Commission has confirmed that there is no obligation “for congressional or presidential campaign committees to pay any expenses incurred by a state or local municipality in connection with the campaign event of a federal official or a candidate”. If candidates foot the bill, they are allowed to use campaign funds to pay security costs, the FEC said.

Mandel said that because of the experience of not being paid by either campaign for the 2016 rallies, Tucson has since changed its convention center licensing agreement and policy. Not only are event organizers responsible for all costs, including security costs to use the convention center, but they must now pay the costs up front to gain access to the facility.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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