- File photo
- Trump is awash in campaign debt.
On Feb. 11 last year, President Donald Trump held a political rally in El Paso, Texas, and racked up a $470,417 bill with the city for security, aviation assistance and busing attendees from distant parking lots. (The bill now stands at $569,205 because of late fees.)
But Trump never paid. In fact, the Center for Public Integrity notes that Trump, who frequently frames himself as a champion of law enforcement, has left at least 10 cities holding the bill for nearly $1 million in public expenses, including police support, for his campaign events since 2016.
But Trump’s campaign won’t have to worry about stiffing the city of Colorado Springs or El Paso County for traffic control, police presence or other help with his Feb. 20 rally at The Broadmoor World Arena.
That’s because the city and county provide such services gratis to political candidates. Or at least that’s what officials tell the Indy on the eve of Trump’s first appearance here in the 2020 campaign cycle.
Trump made three appearances in Colorado Springs in 2016 when seeking his first term:
• July 29 at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he criticized a city fire marshal for limiting the crowd size to comply with fire codes — after the Fire Department freed him from a Mining Exchange Hotel elevator where he and 10 others were trapped, according to media reports. (UCCS billed the campaign $5,217, and the campaign paid in full).
• Sept. 17 at the Jet Center at the Colorado Municipal Airport where he spoke to hundreds of admirers and said, “I will fight to bring us all together.”
• Oct. 18 at the Norris-Penrose Event Center where he bemoaned the “dishonest media” and praised the “incredible military contributions” of installations in the Springs area.
While the city or county supported those events, neither levied a charge. Same goes for the upcoming event.
“These events, including the one on Feb. 20, are held on either private property or non-City facilities, therefore, the only city services that could be needed are those of police and fire,” city spokesperson Kim Melchor says in an email. “As part of normal procedure to support dignitary visits (including all presidential candidates) and to conduct everyday public safety services for the community, police and fire services are provided at no additional cost.”
Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Deborah Mynatt echoes that message, saying via email, “As a matter of procedure, EPSO does not bill persons/entities when fulfilling requests for security/law enforcement support during dignitary visits.”
Exactly how much of a drain the rally will be on city and/or county resources isn’t clear because both agencies demurred when asked what kind of support they’ll provide.
“The CSPD [Colorado Springs Police Department] will provide standard support as they do for all visiting dignitaries,” Melchor writes. “However, for security reasons, the CSPD does not discuss details of those services.
In response to the same question, Mynatt says, “This has not yet been determined.”
It also remains unclear whether groups planning counter-protests — UCCS for Bernie [Sanders] and the Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission — might generate further demand on public services.
In any event, the city providing these services free of charge caught City Councilor Andy Pico by surprise.
“Campaign expenses, including police and fire, are absolutely the responsibility of political campaign committees, not taxpayers,” he says via email.