El Paso

City of El Paso still waiting on more than $470,000 in reimbursements from Trump campaign

Beto For America to pay bill from City by Friday

Rally Reimbursement: Trump and O'Rourke

EL PASO, Texas - The City of El Paso is still waiting on a nearly half-million-dollar-payment from President Trump's presidential campaign for his February 11, 2019 MAGA rally at the El Paso County Coliseum.

The ABC-7 I-Team first obtained and reported the 29-page invoice from the City of El Paso that details the costs incurred which totals $470,417.05.

The City's invoice bills Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. It is broken down by reimbursement owed across six departments:

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

The invoice was dated March 27 with a due date of April 26, but as of May 20th, the City of El Paso still has not received payment.

"I'm not sure about that," Marc Lotter, Trump Campaign Director of Strategic Communications, told ABC-7 last month while speaking at a dinner hosted by the El Paso County Republican Party. "I'll have to check with the accounting folks on that. And when that, about those bills, that's not something that I'm aware of."

ABC-7 has reached out multiple times to the Trump campaign since speaking with Lotter but has not received comment.

The City of El Paso also hasn't heard anything from the Trump campaign.

"We hope to get paid, obviously," Robert Cortinas, Chief Financial Officer for the City of El Paso, said. "I'll reach out to the campaign to follow up, but if we don't then that would come from each of those department budgets that provided those level of services this year."

Cortinas says the money has already been spent, mostly on payroll.

If the City of El Paso does not receive payment from the Trump campaign, that $470,417.05 will have to come out of the city's contingency budget for unexpected costs that can include presidential visits and natural disasters.

Cortinas tells ABC-7 the City's annual budget across all departments for unexpected costs is around $700,000, meaning nearly 70 percent of that would be gone if the Trump campaign doesn't pay the invoice.

The Trump Campaign did pay the $5,000 venue rental fee for the El Paso County Coliseum "immediately," according to El Paso Sports Commission CEO Brian Kennedy. The facility is owned and operated by the County of El Paso. 

Beto For America will pay bill

Democractic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke's campaign also received a bill from the City of El Paso for his March 30, 2019 campaign kick-off rally in Downtown El Paso.

That bill was nearly 16 times cheaper than President Trump's.

Beto For America was billed $28,630.50 and had already paid $7,609.14 as a deposit. The remaining $21,021.36 is due Friday, May 24th.

"We will be paying on time," said Beto For America campaign spokesperson Chris Evans. "We appreciate EPPD and the City's dedicated work to helping us have a welcoming, safe, and professional community event in the city our campaign is proud to call home."

Beto For America also paid for barricades set up by a business called Traffic Control Specialists.

Police Department bill differences

By far the largest cost on the invoice to President Trump's campaign is from the Police Department at $380,942.12. ABC-7 obtained the detailed list of officers on duty that day which shows 492 officers.

By comparison, Beto For America's lone bill from the City of El Paso is for police officers, totalling $28,630.50. ABC-7 also obtained the itemized list of officers on duty during O'Rourke's March 30th rally which shows 90 officers working.

Campaigns not paying isn't uncommon

The City of Tucson can feel the pain the City of El Paso is enduring.

In 2016, the City of Tucson never received payment from either the Trump or Bernie Sanders campaigns after campaign visits. The City of Tucson ultimately decided it would not pursue payment from either.

"The result of any legal actions would at best be uncertain and at worst would expose the City not only to its own costs, but to the liability of paying the other parties' attorney fees," Mike Rankin, City Attorney for the City of Tucson, said. "What we have decided to do going forward is to put ourselves in a better position through the language of the future facility use agreements to try to avoid being left responsible for costs that should rightfully be paid for by the campaign or event."

Cortinas tells ABC-7 that is something the City of El Paso 'can maybe explore in the future'.


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