Trump campaign hasn't paid $470,000 bill for president's anti-immigrant rally in El Paso: report

Trump and Beto highlighted two distinctly different visions for America in dueling rallies in the city of El Paso

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 3, 2019 4:24PM (EDT)

Beto O'Rourke; Donald Trump (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez/Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
Beto O'Rourke; Donald Trump (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez/Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

President Donald Trump and Rep. Beto O'Rourke made headlines in February when the future 2020 candidates laid out two distinctly different visions for America in dueling rallies in the border city of El Paso — and they apparently took two different approaches to paying their tabs, too.

Although O'Rourke's campaign owed the city $28,630.50, the former Texas congressman and Senate candidate paid a deposit of $7,609.14 before paying the rest of the bill right before its May 24 deadline, according to ABC News. By contrast, Trump's campaign owes the city of El Paso a total of $470,417.05 for his "Make America Great Again" rally. Due on April 26, that amount has yet to be paid, and accounts for roughly 63 percent of the city's contingency budget for the year.

ABC News reported the following breakdown of expenses:

  • Police Department: $380,942.12
  • Fire Department: $60,630.84
  • Sun Metro: $15,577.52
  • Department of Aviation: $6,286.57
  • Streets & Maintenance: $6,452
  • Health Department: $528

In a letter sent to Trump's campaign, El Paso's office of the comptroller said, "failure to pay your past due balance or to make acceptable payment arrangement within 30 days from the date of this notice (May 23) may result in your account being charged a one-time collection fee of 21 percent on your gross account receivable balance."

In response to the accusation that they are stiffing the city of El Paso, Michael Glassner, the Trump campaign's chief operating officer, wrote that "since 2015, the Trump Campaign has held nearly 550 rallies all over the country, and this invoice is roughly 10 times the amount that a locality generally asks to be reimbursed. We are reviewing it."

This is not the first time that Trump has had difficulties in his relationship with the El Paso region of Texas. Earlier this year, El Paso County sued President Donald Trump in federal court along with the Border Network for Human Rights over the administration's move to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Their complaint argued that "the issuance of the proclamation imposed concrete and immediate harms on plaintiffs El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights. El Paso County is a flourishing border community that has already been harmed by the president's declaration of an emergency and faces additional imminent harm from the actions authorized by the proclamation."

The lawsuit added, "The BNHR likewise has sustained concrete harms to itself as an organization and to its members, hundreds of families and thousands of individuals living along the border, where the president has declared an emergency, ordered the area's militarization and authorized construction."

"The injunction requested by the county of El Paso and the Border Network for Human Rights is amply justified by the complaint filed today," Harvard law professor Laurence J. Tribe told Salon at the time.

He added, "President Trump’s effort to usurp Congress’ powers and abuse the U.S. military manifestly subverts the Constitution and inflicts grievous harm on the 800,000 residents of a successful community that the president has shamelessly used as a poster child for his political posturing. As the complaint explains, the statutory and constitutional violations that the president has engaged in — despite his own remarkable admission that he did not need to do so — will inflict irreparable harm unless stopped immediately — before they can cause still more damage to a proud and thriving group of people."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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2020 Presidential Election All Salon Beto O'rourke Donald Trump El Paso News & Politics