Donald Trump’s campaign still owes just shy of half a million dollars to El Paso for a February campaign rally, even though the due date came and went months ago, ABC News reports. Meanwhile, 2020 Democrat hopeful Beto O’Rourke also owed the city for police-related costs for a counter-event that night, a bill that was paid on time.
Back in February, as ABC News reported at the time, Trump held a campaign rally at the El Paso Coliseum, where a sold-out crowd shouted “Finish the Wall,” referring to the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that Trump had made a focal point of his campaign and his presidency. At the time, no part of the wall had been built nor had any funding for it been secured. Reportedly, as of this writing, there is still no border wall and no funding for it. Nevertheless, Trump told the crowd that the border wall was responsible for El Paso’s low crime rate, a claim which El Paso’s mayor rejected.
Meanwhile, across town, El Paso businessman and 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke held a rally at the Chalio Acosta Sports Center, where he spoke of El Paso’s cultural diversity.
Such events aren’t without high costs, however, especially when the person holding the event is the president of the United States. Sections of the city have to be blocked off, extra police officers have to be deployed, and other costs are incurred as well.
I wanna share this story too. After my suicide attempt, @BetoORourke stayed in contact w me and continues to do so. In the month or so after, I was really angry. And someone who got the brunt of that anger was Beto. I sent some really awful things to him that I justified as pic.twitter.com/jVTHMCNpTK— Lauren Marie Withrow (@laurenwithrow) May 28, 2019
Both men received hefty bills for the costs of their visits to the city. O’Rourke’s campaign, which had put down $7,609.14 for the city’s costs in advance of his event, paid off the balance of the $28,630.50 just a day before it was due. Trump’s campaign was billed $470,417.05 for the event, which included costs for police, street-clearing, aviation, and similar costs.
The bill’s due date of April 26 has come and gone, and El Paso is still waiting for a check. What’s more, the bill, which was sent to Trump’s campaign headquarters 30 days prior, had threatened a 21 percent late fee ($98,787.59) if the bill wasn’t paid on time.
Robert Cortinas, El Paso’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that the city expects to be reimbursed for the costs Trump’s visit incurred. If the bill isn’t paid, the money to cover those costs will come out of the city’s contingency budget, which would otherwise be used to cover things like natural disasters or other emergencies.
Michael Glassner, chief operating officer with the Trump campaign, told ABC News that El Paso’s bill is roughly 10 times what other municipalities have charged the Trump campaign for his visits and suggested that the bill is artificially inflated. He said that it is being “reviewed.”