The city of El Paso, Texas, announced on Tuesday that it had hired a law firm to collect on $569,204 it is still owed by Donald Trump's presidential campaign for costs associated with a February 2019 rally.
"A lot of us have been concerned about this outstanding invoice, about the amount of money that is owed to us by the Trump campaign," said local Rep. Peter Svarzbein said during a city council meeting.
"We all are seeing firsthand the struggles that everyday El Paso families have in addition to the challenges we have in our own budget," he added.
El Paso City Council 11-24-2020 from Shareblue Media on Vimeo
The council said it has not yet decided to sue the campaign, but city attorney Karla Nieman said they would be "using various methods to attempt to collect the debt owed to the City of El Paso."
The city has been facing a budget shortfall due to the pandemic. Restrictions on travel have led to severe cuts in sales tax revenue the city previously brought in from shoppers from Mexico. Mayor Dee Margo told the Texas Tribune that since the pandemic began, 26% of small businesses have closed and the city has lost over 15,000 jobs.
Svarzbein noted on Tuesday that "th[e] amount of money" outstanding from the rally expenses is therefore "not inconsequential."
The action to collect on the debt is part of a message being sent that "nobody is above the law," he said.
Trump held the rally to promote his southern border wall and cited false crime statistics to back the project.
The campaign initially incurred a fee of $470,417.05 to pay for police and public safety services connected to the event. The city later added a 21% late fee after Trump failed to pay.
Beto O'Rourke, who was a Democratic presidential candidate and held a rally in El Paso on the same day, paid the city for the services it had provided to his campaign.
The nonpayment is part of a pattern of behavior from Trump and his failed campaign.
Even as cities and municipalities continue to struggle with the fallout from the virus, along with traditional government expenses, Trump has thus far failed to pay more than $1.8 million to multiple communities.
Over the course of the 2020 campaign cycle, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee disclosed that they had raised $1.57 billion, but spent much of the money on ads in states Trump was unlikely to win.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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