With President Trump set to visit El Paso, Texas, in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting, the city is re-upping its request for his campaign to pay the bill for the last time he was there.
Trump visited the border city in February for a campaign rally, and according to a Texas Tribune report the president’s campaign still owes over a half-million dollars for the rally.
“Our resources are really strained right now,” said Alexsandra Annello, a member of the El Paso City Council. “Our police and fire are exhausted, our health department had for three days straight been working with the reunification of families. As you see from the bill, these are the services required for a presidential visit. In addition to financial costs, our community and resources are already strained and do not need this extra burden.”
According to the city, Trump’s campaign owed $470,417.05 for police and public safety services related to the February rally, which was not an official presidential visit. The city sent the Trump campaign a letter in May prior to the deadline notifying it of the past-due invoice and in June added a one-time 21 percent late fee penalty, bringing the total bill to $569,204.63.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native who held a counter-rally for his Democratic presidential campaign at the same time as Trump’s event, paid his $21,021.36 bill just prior to the May 24 deadline.
Trump’s February visit to El Paso was preceded by controversy when locals contested his State of the Union lie that it had been one of the country’s “most dangerous cities” prior to a border barrier being constructed.
“It is sad to hear President Trump state falsehoods about El Paso in an attempt to justify the building of a 2,000-mile wall,” El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles said in a statement. “El Paso was a safe city long before any wall was built.”
Some El Paso officials have urged Trump not to visit, with Rep. Veronica Escobar, the Democrat who represents the area, saying, “From my perspective, he is not welcome here. He should not come here while we are in mourning. I would encourage the president's staff members to have him do a little self-reflection. I would encourage them to show him his own words and his actions at the rallies.”
O’Rourke, Escobar’s predecessor, echoed her comments.
“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,” O’Rourke tweeted Monday. “We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.”
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