On Thursday, Public Integrity and NBC News co-published a deep dive on the efforts of at least 10 cities to convince Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign to pay up for its costly MAGA rallies. Based on the campaign’s history thus far, the bottom line seems plain: don’t hold your breath.
For political rallies, campaigns usually make an agreement with the city to secure a space for the rally, security, and clean-up. Most times, they pay this in a timely manner so stories like these don’t exist. But because this is Trump, there has naturally been a recurring issue with the paying portion of the exchange.
The most recent and egregious example of the campaign’s blasé attitude toward paying its bills came from February, when his MAGA rally in El Paso drew attention after a drunken supporter assaulted a BBC cameraman while the president delivered his speech. Fast forward to June and the city started making grumpy noises after the campaign repeatedly stiffed the city on the purported $470,417.05 bill they handed him for their services.
As NBC and Public Integrity revealed, El Paso is not alone.
At least 10 cities in total, including five from his 2016 campaign, still have not received the funds they requested. While the Trump campaign complained to ABC that El Paso’s fees were exorbitant, the nine remaining cities requested far more reasonable fees for their services. For instance, per Public Integrity, the city of Lebanon, OH submitted an invoice just over $16,000 to the campaign. The average of the nine cities’ costs incurred, El Paso excluded, was $41,200.31.
One of the major underlying issues is that most of these cities did not sign contracts with the campaign but instead believed the goodwill they extended would be impetus enough for the campaign to pay up. According to Public Integrity’s reporting, some local governments, like Nashville’s, have started to pick up on the trend and begun requiring the campaign to sign an agreement before hosting the rally, though even then, the campaign hasn’t shown much interest in paying on time—a local government agency in Yellowstone, Mont., billed Trump just over $17,000 for a rally he held last November, and the campaign still managed to blow the due date by three months.
For all the righteous talk of Trump being up to his eyes in debt, his campaign is not wanting for cash—at the end of March, it reported $40.8 million in cash on hand. If Beto can stop doing kickflips and pause his cassette player long enough to pay off his rally bills, there really isn’t any reason that Trump can’t as well.