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Trump’s Minneapolis rally on despite security costs dispute

Associated Press

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Bob Good
FILE - Donald Trump at the La Crosse Center during the Rep. presidential nomination. (BOB GOOD PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIOS)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — President Donald Trump’s campaign said a rally in Minneapolis will go ahead as planned on Thursday after it threatened a lawsuit over the city’s effort to recover $530,000 in security costs.

The dispute erupted late Monday when the campaign accused Mayor Jacob Frey, a Trump critic, of trying to sink the rally. Frey called the costs reasonable and said he had a duty to protect taxpayers.

The Minneapolis Police Department canceled days off for its officers this week. It is also getting help from federal, state and county law enforcement, as well as transit police and officers from the University of Minnesota campus.

The campaign said the city sent the security cost estimate to Target Center’s operator, AEG Management, which threatened to cancel its contract to host the rally if the costs weren’t covered. Its law firm threatened to sue AEG if the rally doesn’t proceed.

His campaign said the “bogus security charges” are an attempt to prevent Minneapolis residents from supporting Trump. And they contrasted them with what they said were much smaller charges for a 2009 event by then-President Barack Obama in the same building.

Minnesota Public Radio reported some cities don’t even bother billing federal candidates for their visits. The city of Duluth didn’t invoice Trump after his campaign rally last fall because officials have been told in the past that they shouldn’t expect to get any reimbursement from federal candidates, city spokesperson Kate Van Daele said. That rally cost Duluth $69,000, according to a data request.

Rochester sent a bill to Trump for more than $90,000 for local costs for a campaign rally last October, the Rochester Post Bulletin reported, but city officials haven’t heard anything back.

A Trump rally in El Paso, Texas, near the Mexico border earlier this year cost local officials nearly $500,000 for security and other costs.

Trump attacked Frey on Twitter on Tuesday, writing: “Someone please tell the Radical Left Mayor of Minneapolis that he can’t price out Free Speech. Probably illegal!”

“The radical leftist mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, is abusing the power of his office and attempting to extort President Trump’s re-election campaign,” Trump’s campaign said in a statement.

The rally, Trump’s first since the House moved toward impeachment over his handling of a phone call with Ukraine’s president, is in a state Trump nearly won in 2016 and has talked frequently of capturing in 2020. But it takes place in a traditionally liberal city and the home turf of a frequent foil, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

When the rally was announced last month, Frey said Trump’s “message of hatred” would never be welcome in Minnesota. But at a news conference Tuesday, he said the city will do all it can to guarantee a “safe and peaceful week,” regardless of his political differences with Trump.

Frey stood by the security costs estimate, saying a Trump political rally brings “significant expenses” not associated with Obama’s 2009 event, which was aimed at building support for health care reform.

Later Tuesday, the Trump campaign said in a statement that the operators of Target Center had backed off cancelling the contract, with no agreement by the campaign to pay additional money.

AEG didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Trump also attacked Frey over Twitter for a policy that prohibits city police officers from wearing their uniforms in support of candidates at political events or in campaign ads. The city’s police union spokesman has complained about the policy, and the union is selling “Cops for Trump” T-shirts.

Frey said the police force must be nonpartisan and non-ideological.

“They’re free to express their First Amendment rights but should do so off-duty,” he said.

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