The campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump is threatening to sue the operator of the Target Center after the City of Minneapolis asked that it pay the costs of the security required for Thursday's rally up front.
The Trump campaign issued a press release Thursday, with an attached letter from its attorneys, blaming Mayor Jacob Frey for what it calls a "phony and outlandish bill" based on "bogus security charges" in an effort to "block" President Trump's appearance in the city.
"We are well aware of Mayor Frey’s vocal partisan opposition to President Trump and calls to disrupt the rally," says the letter from Trump law firm Jones Day to the Target Center's management firm. "This last-minute squeeze seems to be nothing but a pretextual political effort with serious First Amendment ramifications."
Mayor Frey meanwhile tweeted a response to President Trump on Tuesday, saying: "Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors."
The Trump campaign, which revealed less than a week ago it had raised a record $125 million in the 3rd quarter of 2019, said that it received a request for $530,000 ahead of Thursday's rally.
The request came from Target Center operator AEG Worldwide, which the campaign claims had been "preemptively informed by the City of Minneapolis" that it would be responsible for the security and costs relating to the event, and was attempting to recoup said costs from the campaign.
But the campaign argues it is not responsible for the costs because the U.S. Secret Service is in charge of coordinating security, and as such neither the campaign nor AEG are responsible "for arranging or paying for rally-related security."
It then goes on to threaten that court action could be taken against AEG should it break its contract by not honoring the lease on Target Center as agreed, not only in legal courts, but also "in the court of public opinion."
That said, there have been numerous instances in recent years where cities that host Trump rallies have not been reimbursed for the services provided by local police.
The Center for Public Integrity in June found at least 10 examples of cities that are still waiting on payments totaling $840,000 for policing services.
The article notes how there remains uncertainty as to whether the campaign is legally liable.
"That depends on who you ask. The cities are adamant Trump should pay up. But in many of these cases, there are no signed contracts between the municipal governments and the Trump campaign. The cities dispatched police officers to secure Trump’s events because they believe public safety required it — and the U.S. Secret Service asked for it."
Target Center is operated by AEG but owned by the City of Minneapolis.
In its letter to AEG, the Trump campaign cited a Pioneer Press article from 2009 relating to a President Obama event held at the arena, in which police estimated the security costs at around $20,000.
Given that 10 years has passed and the Trump rally is expected to bring with it significant protests, it's certain that costs have risen since then, but the campaign is calling the $530,000 figure a "ridiculous sum."
CityPages reports that Trump rallies held recently in Rochester and Duluth left the cities having to eat the cost of $76,138 and $69,000 respectively.
Mayor Frey has been criticized by right-wing politicians and media outlets after saying the president's "hatred is not welcome" in Minneapolis after the rally was announced.
The Trump campaign is accusing Frey of trying to "extort" the campaign ahead of the rally, which comes at a time when the president is the subject of an impeachment investigation for suggesting the U.S. could withhold funds from the Ukraine unless it assisted with an investigation into the family of his political rival, Joe Biden.
BMTN has reached out to Mayor Frey's office for further explanation, and will update this story as and when we receive a response.
The president meanwhile had this to say.
Prompting the aforementioned response.