President Donald Trump has pledged the federal government will provide “whatever is needed” to help El Paso, Texas, recover from a mass shooting Saturday that killed 22 people.
But Trump’s own 2020 re-election committee still hasn’t paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in police and public safety-related bills and late fees that El Paso city officials say it owes from Trump’s campaign visit on Feb. 11.
“The Trump campaign has not paid the invoice as of yet,” El Paso spokeswoman Laura Cruz-Acosta confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity late Monday morning.
Trump’s re-election committee owes El Paso municipal government $569,204, according to an invoice to the Trump campaign dated July 18. Of that amount, $470,417 comes from an initial bill El Paso sent Trump in March, with the rest attributable to late fees the city tacked on in June.
The amount could fund the annual salaries of several El Paso police officers, whom Trump on Monday praised along with other law enforcement officials for responding with “extraordinary grace and courage of American heroes.”
As of mid-Monday, Trump’s campaign also had not paid a $16,191 invoice for police and other public safety costs associated with a “Make America Great Again” rally on Oct. 12 in Lebanon, Ohio, city official Pam Stotts said in an email. Lebanon is about 20 miles south of Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman on Sunday killed nine people and injured 32 more outside a bar.
Trump’s re-election committee did not respond to several emails and phone calls this weekend inquiring whether it will pay police and public safety bills sent to it by municipal governments, including El Paso and Lebanon.
Trump says he plans to visit El Paso and Dayton later this week.
In all, at least 10 local governments — from Mesa, Arizona, to Erie, Pennsylvania — are still waiting for Trump to pay public safety-related invoices they’ve sent his presidential campaign committee in connection with his political rallies, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation in June. In all, the bills total $841,219.
During political speeches, Trump routinely praises law enforcement officials and offers his support to them.
In a tweet Saturday after the El Paso shooting, he wrote that he is, “Working with State and Local authorities, and Law Enforcement” and pledged Texas Gov. Greg Abbott the “total support of Federal Government.”
Presidential campaign committees are not generally obligated by federal law to pay public safety-related bills sent to them by municipalities that host presidential candidates’ campaign rallies. President Barack Obama, for example, often did not pay such bills during his 2012 re-election campaign.
Nevertheless, many presidential candidates over the years — including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the 2016 election, and several Democratic presidential candidates running in 2020 — voluntarily cover expenses incurred by local police during campaign events. The presidential campaign of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, earlier this year paid a public safety bill El Paso government sent it.
They’ve argued it’s the right thing to do to not burden city governments, which often struggle to balance their budgets, with additional expenses that could negatively affect police services.
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