MINNEAPOLIS Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey will continue to push President Donald Trump's campaign to pay city costs associated with an upcoming Trump rally, despite the campaign's warning that it will take the city to court over the estimated $530,000 bill.
"It's not extortion to expect someone to pay their bills," Frey said in a news conference Tuesday.
Trump plans to rally supporters Thursday evening in the city-owned Target Center. The Trump campaign said in a news release Monday that AEG, the private company that manages Target Center, threatened to cancel its contract with the campaign if it did not agree to pay Minneapolis for security costs and other services.
A law firm representing the campaign gave AEG a deadline of Tuesday morning to confirm that it will continue to honor the contract that does not include the additional bill. More than three hours after the 11 a.m. deadline passed, there was no record of a lawsuit filed in state or federal courts.
Representatives of the Trump campaign and AEG have not responded to requests for comment Tuesday. An attorney with the firm Jones Day, which is representing the campaign, directed calls to Trump's campaign staff.
"Politics is no basis to interfere with a contract, and if the agreement with the Campaign is not honored, the Campaign will also look to hold AEG and the City responsible for the apparent infringement on the Campaign's financial interests and fundamental First Amendment rights, as well as those of its many supporters," the letter from Jones Day to AEG said.
The campaign called the cost estimate "ridiculous" and said it was dramatically larger than the city's costs for a Target Center event at 2009 with President Barack Obama.
In response, Frey said "there are significant expenses associated with a campaign rally from Donald Trump." The Obama event was about health care policy, not an election rally, he said.
"It's my job to look after the taxpayers of the city of Minneapolis, and that's not a cost that we're just going to bear," he added.
Frey said this was "not a political decision," and that associated security costs for future rallies in the city for any candidate would "be applied evenly and fairly."
The $540,000 total was based on the methodology Minneapolis used to determine the costs of past major events, like the 2018 Super Bowl and Final Four. The public safety expenses are expected to be around $400,000 and the other $130,000 would be the result of lane closure fees, traffic control and various other costs, Frey said Tuesday.
Frey's news conference Tuesday came after he and Trump had been sparring on Twitter.
Trump called the mayor a "lightweight" and said he is hurting the police and supporters who want to attend the rally.
"Yawn ... Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all of our neighbors," Frey replied.
A couple hours later, Trump added, "Someone please tell the Radical Left Mayor of Minneapolis that he can't price out Free Speech. Probably illegal!" and said he stands with law enforcement.
Frey shot back that someone should tell Trump he can afford to help pay for the extra time officers will put in because of the rally.
Shortly after the 11 a.m. deadline had passed, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that Frey, "is a radical left-wing nutjob that is limiting free speech. We will seek all legal remedies to force the Mayor to allow our constitutional rights."
Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison stood by Frey on Tuesday, saying "the mayor had, I thought, a really appropriate comeback for him."
"Jacob is an adult, a professional," Ellison said. "I think he's gonna handle anything the president is going to throw at him really well."
Council Member Steve Fletcher, who represents much of downtown, said Monday that "the president is putting the country through a painful impeachment process" and that "he should resign before he gets here." Like Frey and other city officials, he said that his goal is for safety for everyone downtown "regardless of their political leanings or why they're coming here."
The state Republican Party, meanwhile, echoed the Trump campaign's concerns that the city was infringing on Minnesotan's First Amendment rights.
"It was bad enough for Frey to say the President of the United States is not welcome in his city, but it is simply outrageous that Democrats are now choosing to trample on the First Amendment rights of Minnesotans. This abuse of power would set a dangerous precedent in what is supposed to be the freest country in the world," GOP Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said in a statement.
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