Politics

Minneapolis Mayor Defends Security Cost Estimate for Trump Rally: Its Not Extortion

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said that the security cost estimate for the Oct. 10 Trump rally at the Target Center was “not extortion.”

Asked about the Trump campaign charge that the city is severely overestimating the cost of the event, citing a $20,000 estimate for an event President Barack Obama held in 2009, Frey told reporters on Oct. 8 it was different then because Obama was coming “on behalf of the office as president of the United States, not as a campaign event.”

“President Trump is coming to Minneapolis as a campaign rally,” he said. He also said that the city handles public safety differently in 2019 than it did in 2009, noting that the costs linked to the 2018 Super Bowl were $6 million and the 2019 NCAA Final Four cost some $1.5 million.

“Its not extortion to expect that somebody should pay their bills even if somebody really doesnt want to pay their bills,” Frey said. Trump said in a statement that what the city of Minneapolis was doing was “probably illegal.” His campaign said in a press release that Frey was “attempting to extort” the campaign “by conjuring a phony and outlandish bill for security in an effort to block” the scheduled rally.

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) runs Target Center. The stadium is owned by the city.

President Barack Obama speaks about healthcare reform during a rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sept. 12, 2009. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Frey told reporters: “Weve asked that AEG abide by the contract that we have them ensuring the associated costs of events such as this one are covered.”

“Yes, the additional cost is necessary,” he said, pressed on the difference between 2018 rallies in Rochester and Duluth, smaller cities in Minnesota where officials said the rallies cost under $100,000, and Minneapolis.

He said that the $540,000 estimate includes $400,000 in public safety costs, specifically overtime from the police, and an additional $140,000 for regulatory services and public works like street barriers.

A reporter said that no bills are available for events held by 2016 Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and wondered whether anything had changed since then. Frey said he wasnt sure.

“If a Democrat comes here, will they be billed for the costs?” another reporter asked.

“This is not a political decision,” Frey said, citing the contract with AEG again.

Opening the press conference, Frey criticized Trump directly.

“We welcome people from all over the world and we are united in the belief that our diversity is a source and a form of strength. That is the premise and that is the promise of our great nation,” Frey said. “Upholding those ideals is an expectation built into the very office of the president.”

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