President Donald Trump won a feud with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey regarding $530,000 in up-front security and other costs associated with his campaign rally Thursday at the Target Center.
Trump claimed in a letter that the half-million-dollar security charges were “phony and outlandish” and blamed Frey for “pressur[ing] the Target Center, site of the contracted October 10, 2019, rally, into preventing Minnesota residents from exercising their First Amendment rights in support of President Trump.”
Trump’s law firm, Jones Day, sent a letter to the Target Center threatening to sue for breach of contract, citing a Pioneer Press article comparing costs for Trump's rally to a similar event for then-President Barack Obama. According to the Press, Trump's anticipated bill is 26 times higher compared to Obama's bill of around $20,000.
“We are well aware of Mayor Frey’s vocal partisan opposition to President Trump and calls to disrupt the rally,” the letter read. “This last-minute squeeze seems to be nothing but a pretextual political effort with serious First Amendment ramifications.”
Frey responded in a press conference that “there are significant expenses associated with a campaign rally from Donald Trump” compared to Obama's health care policy event, including paying more police officers overtime.
“It’s not extortion to expect someone to pay their bills,” Frey said, adding, “It’s my job to look after the taxpayers of the city of Minneapolis, and that’s not a cost that we’re just going to bear.”
“Someone tell the President of the United States that he can afford to help pay for the extra time our officers will be putting in while he’s in town,” Frey tweeted Tuesday.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale claimed Frey’s personal bias outweighed the opinions of his constituents.
“This is an outrageous abuse of power by a liberal mayor trying to deny the rights of his own city’s residents just because he hates the President,” Parscale said in a statement. “People want to hear from their President, and no mayor looking to beef up his resume for a run for higher office should stand in the way.”
“Someone please tell the Radical Left Mayor of Minneapolis that he can’t price out Free Speech. Probably illegal!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
The Trump campaign said in an email to supporters that they secured the arena for Thursday's rally.
"The Target Center has backed off cancelling the contract, which means President Trump's Keep America Great rally will go on as scheduled. Consistent with our original agreement with the venue, the Trump campaign has not agreed to pay any additional funds."
Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign's communications director, told The Hill that Secret Service coordinates for additional security, not the campaign.
The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) detailed in June that Trump’s campaign “has not paid at least 10 bills" requested by municipal governments to cover Trump's campaign rallies, leaving El Paso, Texas, with more than a $470,417 tab from a February rally.
Many municipal governments never sign legal agreements with Trump’s campaign, and provide security on their own, CPI said.
The Minnesota DFL Party tweeted on Monday that Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of winning Minnesota in 2016, with following threads that the "Trump campaign is staffing up in Minnesota in ways we’ve never seen before, and frankly we just can’t keep up.”