Vice President Mike Pence held a “Cops for Trump” rally in western Pennsylvania as part of the reelection campaign for President Donald Trump. The moment comes, however, just as the Trump campaign hit $2 million in unpaid security bills.
Business Insider reported Thursday that the Pennsylvania rally with Pence was another campaign event that incurred a bill for handling security for a political event. Over the nearly five years that Trump has been running a campaign, he hasn't paid the bills to the city.
It was reported by the Albuquerque Journal in October that their city sent Trump an invoice for $211,175.94 for barricades and overtime for officers to be on hand for the event. At last check, that hadn't been paid along with the several other cities.
In the past, Trump’s team claimed that the U.S. Secret Service is the one responsible for safety, but the Secret Service released a statement that they couldn’t reimburse municipalities for their involvement. It would take an act of Congress to do so. So, it has become a kind of grey zone of the campaign refusing to pay for bills and saying the Secret Service had to handle it. Most campaigns simply pay their bills.
"I fully expect them to stiff Greensburg and Westmoreland County taxpayers with the bill for this rally," said Pennsylvania state Rep. Austin Davis.
The city of Greenburg has about 14,000 people and operates on a budget of just $12 million annually. GOP City Councilman Donnie Zappone said he's really hoping the costs are minimal.
"Mainly, we just want to keep everyone here safe. If we do incur a cost, it would be nice if they would pay [it] back," said Zappone.
Don't count on it.
Lebanon, Ohio, Mesa, Arizona and Erie, Pennsylvania, are just a few of those Trump has stiffed. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Green Bay and Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Tucson, Arizona; Burlington, Vermont and Spokane, Washington — have also been stiffed, but that was from before he was elected to the president and during the 2016 campaign.
Looking on the bright side, Zappone said that all of the Trump staffers in town has helped with a modest boost to their local economy.
Ripon, Wisconsin Mayor Theodore Grant told Greenburg, PA not to expect Pence's visit to be worth it to the city. His city, which boasts itself as the "birthplace of the Republican Party," was forced to use its emergency fund to handle Pence's security costs from a July 17 event.
The $5,000-10,000 they had to come up with was two-thirds of the city's $15,000 emergency fund. The city now doesn't have any more funds available if there is an emergency in the city.
"Any committee, any campaign of any party would be welcome in town if they're willing to pay for costs, but the Trump campaign took advantage of all our police and firefighters here," said Mayor Grant. "We're just going to have to run a little lean."
"In October, Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey in October filed a complaint with the FEC that accused the Trump campaign of violating this debt disclosure requirement," the report said. The FEC hasn't decided on the case.
Trump has claimed that he is the only ally for police in the race for president. He's attacked former Vice President Joe Biden as wanting to "disable the police department," something Biden opposes. But Trump's unpaid bills are already helping defund police departments, one rally at a time.