President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign accused Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey of “abusing the power of his office” and “attempting to extort” the president by “conjuring a phony and outlandish bill for security.”
The accusation came late Monday night in a press release from the Trump campaign. The campaign claims that the Minneapolis city government informed the Target Center that it would be responsible for $530,000 in security fees for the October 10 rally. The Target Center, under AEG Management, then attempted to pass the costs to the campaign with a threat of withholding use of the arena.
The Trump campaign responded by calling the fees a clear violation of the leasing contract, which states that the U.S. Secret Service is “solely and directly” responsible for coordinating all law enforcement services.
“As such, no law enforcement costs shall by coordinated by [AEG], charged through [AEG] to [the campaign], or shall otherwise be reimbursable expenses in connection with the [contract],” the leasing contract states, according to the campaign.
If AEG Management fails to deliver the Target Center, the Trump campaign said it will “aggressively pursue all remedies available to it in law or equity—not to mention in the court of public opinion.”
“We presume this contrived legal justification for threatening to terminate the contract is the result of AEG receiving pressure from City leadership determined to cancel the rally. We are well aware of Mayor Frey’s vocal partisan opposition to President Trump and calls to disrupt the rally. This last-minute squeeze seems to be nothing but a pretextual political effort with serious First Amendment ramifications,” states a letter from Trump law firm Jones Day to AEG Management.
“Politics is no basis to interfere with a contract, and if the agreement with the Campaign is not honored, the Campaign will also look to hold AEG and the City responsible for the apparent infringement on the Campaign’s financial interests and fundamental First Amendment rights, as well as those of its many supporters,” the letter concludes.
The campaign’s legal representation gave the Target Center’s management team a deadline of 11 a.m. Tuesday morning to honor the terms of the agreement or face “court proceedings.” That deadline passed with city officials maintaining their initial position.
“It’s not extortion to expect someone to pay their bills,” Frey said during a Tuesday press conference at Minneapolis City Hall. “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.”
Frey said public safety expenses are estimated to be nearly $400,000 while the remaining $130,000 would come from traffic control and fees for lane closures. The Trump campaign also claimed that a 2009 health care event hosted by President Barack Obama at the Target Center cost just $20,000 in security fees.
Frey responded by noting that the Obama event was not a campaign rally, saying “there are significant expenses associated with a campaign rally from Donald Trump.”
President Trump exchanged a number of verbal jabs with Mayor Frey on Twitter Tuesday morning.
“Someone please tell the radical left mayor of Minneapolis that he can’t price out free speech. Probably illegal! I stand strong and proudly with the great police officers and law enforcement of Minneapolis and the great state of Minnesota,” Trump said.
“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 responded.
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. https://t.co/bXITaPdW4E
— Jacob Frey (@Jacob_Frey) October 8, 2019
Earlier in the morning, Trump suggested that the “lightweight mayor is hurting the great police and other wonderful supporters.”
“Yawn … welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors,” Frey replied.
Yawn… Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors. https://t.co/v1cXvoD9uR
— Jacob Frey (@Jacob_Frey) October 8, 2019
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale called the security bill “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.”
“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,” he added.
The Minnesota Republican Party is standing by President Trump, accusing Mayor Frey of attempting to “stifle the voices of Minnesota Republicans looking to show their support for our President.”
“This move highlights the fact that liberal Democrats cannot handle the outpouring of support for President Trump, his successes in office, and his message of making America great again, and their only course of action is to silence the opposition,” Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said in a statement. “It was bad enough for Frey to say the President of the United States is not welcome in his city, but it is simply outrageous that Democrats are now choosing to trample on the First Amendment rights of Minnesotans. This abuse of power would set a dangerous precedent in what is supposed to be the freest country in the world.”
This is a developing story and The Minnesota Sun will continue to follow it closely.
– – –
Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Donald Trump” by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. CC BY 2.0. Photo “Jacob Frey” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Minneapolis City Hall” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.