The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Trump campaign has over $1 million in outstanding bills from American cities

Then-candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Albuquerque on May 24, 2016. (Brennan Linsley/AP)
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Albuquerque has joined a lengthy list of U.S. cities with a simple request: that President Trump’s campaign pay for the costs incurred during a rally. On Wednesday, the Albuquerque Journal reported that the city sent an invoice to Trump’s reelection campaign in an effort to recoup more than $211,000 in expenses from a September rally. That figure includes more than $71,000 in police overtime.

The Trump campaign’s indifference to municipal bills became a significant issue earlier this month when the city of Minneapolis attempted to get paid in advance for a rally Trump was planning to hold in the city. The president and his campaign publicly berated Minneapolis’s mayor. But even then it was easy to see why a city would want Trump’s team to pay in advance.

As the Minneapolis rally loomed, CNN went back to a number of cities that had been identified in June by the Center for Public Integrity as places with outstanding bills in to the Trump campaign. CNN found that there was at least $841,000 still outstanding. The total, though, is more than that: Dave Levinthal, who reported the initial tallies for the Center for Public Integrity, confirmed in an email to The Washington Post on Thursday that he had checked back with all the cities he had identified in July and that none had been paid as of his most recent outreach.

Adding in the bill from Albuquerque, that brings the total outstanding bill to more than $1 million — $1,052,395.78, to be precise. El Paso, which hasn’t been paid for costs from a February rally, added a late fee of about $99,000 earlier this year, bringing the total to $1,151,183.36. Add in the $530,000 that Minneapolis was originally seeking and the total nears $1.7 million.

Before being elected president, Trump had earned a reputation for not paying vendors who had done work for the Trump Organization. In this case, though, the bills fall into something of a gray area. The campaign generally doesn’t sign contracts for additional police officers, so the cities don’t have binding agreements to recoup the costs. As Levinthal suggested in June, it’s more of a norm that the bills would be paid — and Trump has certainly earned a reputation for sidestepping norms since entering the world of politics.

In the context of Trump’s campaign, these costs are not significant. Earlier this week, the Republican Party celebrated having raised more than $300 million through the first three quarters of 2019. Reimbursing these cities for the costs they incurred from Trump’s rallies, then, would eat up a little more than a day’s average fundraising.

Don’t expect that to happen.