Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey published an op-ed in The Washington Post Monday defending his decision to seek reimbursement from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign for security costs related to the president’s Minneapolis rally.
As The Minnesota Sun reported, the Trump campaign accused Frey of extortion and “abusing the power of his office” by “conjuring a phony and outlandish bill for security.” The total security bill was $530,000 and campaign manager Brad Parscale said before the rally that the event would go on as scheduled and the “Trump campaign has not agreed to pay any additional funds.”
Frey said his position “with respect to the operating costs remains unchanged,” and revealed in his Monday op-ed that the matter is still unsettled.
“The venue the campaign chose, Target Center, is publicly owned but privately operated,” Frey explains in his article. “Under the terms of the city’s contract with the operator, Minneapolis is entitled to reimbursement for certain costs. In our view, those include excess costs for public safety and traffic control, among other services. Had the venue been privately owned, we wouldn’t have had as much leverage to recoup costs.”
“At this point, the matter remains a standoff,” he continues. “The booking agent is still seeking payment from the Trump campaign, and our position continues to be that the city should be reimbursed.”
Frey acknowledges that he has a “responsibility to protect free speech” as mayor, even though he finds President Trump’s rhetoric and policies “reprehensible.”
“Many things in this president’s life have been fluid. He was once a pro-choice Democrat. He was for the Iraq war before he was against it. He famously disdained presidential golf outings, but now he can’t live without them,” Frey writes. “One constant in Trump’s public and private careers? He doesn’t like paying his bills.”
Frey claims that Minneapolis has a responsibility to “ensure that our limited funds are put to good uses.”
“Every opportunity we have to save taxpayer dollars and dedicate them to important matters such as affordable housing policy is an opportunity we must seize,” he writes. “When the president learned that Minneapolis was seeking reimbursement, he did not call me directly to discuss details. He did not seek to better understand the terms of the contract. He took to Twitter to make threats, inflame his base ahead of the event and lash out at me and the diverse city I represent.”
He concludes by offering other local officials a few “lessons” he learned from his exchange with the president.
“When the president brings his show to your town, there may well be avenues available to hold his campaign accountable for the costs it imposes. And if expecting your city to be reimbursed provokes Trump’s trademark abuse, it’s best to meet his incivility with civility and a bit of humor,” Frey suggests.
He then calls on Congress to pass legislation that would allow cities to be “automatically entitled to reimbursement from the campaign instead of being forced to act like a collection agency.”
“Congress should exercise its oversight authority and make clear that public-safety services constitute something of value to a political campaign,” he concludes. “As the 2020 campaign ramps up, that’s a rule that should have bipartisan buy-in and bipartisan application.”
His op-ed was republished by The Star Tribune and can be read here.
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