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Trump campaign still owes El Paso more than $500,000 on eve of President's return visit

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

President Donald Trump will travel to El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday to offer his condolences and support to survivors, first responders and local officials in the wake of a mass shooting at a Walmart that left 22 dead. But he'll arrive with a $500,000 debt to the border city from his last visit.

Trump traveled to El Paso in mid-February of this year for his first political rally of 2019, where he made his case for a border wall before a friendly crowd of supporters at the County Coliseum following the 35-day government shutdown. Like most presidential campaign travel, the trip incurred a variety of police and public safety-related costs billed to the Trump campaign by the municipal government. The Center for Public Integrity first reported on the bills and has reported extensively since.

According to invoice documents obtained by CNN, the city of El Paso initially billed the Trump campaign $470,417.05 in reimbursement costs for the event. But in a letter dated March 27, 2019, the Office of the Comptroller of the City of El Paso wrote to the campaign that, if it did not pay its debt within 30 days, a one-time 21% collection fee, nearly $100,000, would be added. The total invoice with the late fees now stands at $569,204.63.

The city of El Paso's strategic communications director Laura Cruz-Acosta confirmed to CNN that the bill had not been paid as of Tuesday afternoon, despite multiple media reports about its existence.

The Trump campaign has not responded to CNN's request for comment and it's unclear whether the bill will be paid before the President returns to El Paso.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, presidential campaign committees "are not generally obligated by federal law to pay public safety-related bills sent to them by municipalities that host presidential candidates' campaign rallies," and President Barack Obama "often did not pay such bills during his 2012 reelection campaign."

The outstanding public safety bill and Wednesday visit come as Trump has praised the work of law enforcement. He is expected to meet with first responders during the trip.

"I want to thank the many law enforcement personnel who responded to these atrocities with the extraordinary grace and courage of American heroes," Trump said at the White House during remarks on the mass shootings Monday.

He added that the federal government would provide "whatever is needed" in the wake of the domestic terror attack.

"Federal authorities are on the ground, and I have directed them to provide any and all assistance required, whatever is needed," he said.


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