Beware, Minneapolis: Trump rallies leave a long trail of unpaid bills

Minneapolis is about to be swarmed by his out-of-town fans. But Trump has a sordid history of stiffing his hosts.

Minneapolis is about to be swarmed by his out-of-town fans. But Trump has a sordid history of stiffing his hosts. Aaron Lavinsky

Before Donald Trump arrives for a rally at the Target Center on October 10, Minneapolis police would be wise to ask for their money up front. Over the last three years, Trump has stiffed departments across the country with $841,219 in unpaid bills.

Rallies aren't official presidential business. They're solely for the personal advancement of the candidate, a chance to pump the faithful and assail one's enemies.

In this case, Trump is coming to taunt one of conservatism's greatest nemeses, Minneapolis Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Outside of Fox News coverage showing him bravely stepping into a lion's den of liberalism—a place rumored to have white man's no-go zones ruled by Sharia Law—there's isn't much public value to these affairs. So cities expect candidates to pick up the tab for crowd control, street closings, and the piles of police overtime this all entails.

It's only fair. The nation's police tend to operate on shoestring budgets. Wasting them on helping a 73-year-old man preen before the cameras, rather than responding to emergencies, is no choice at all. And Trump can most assuredly afford it. He's raised $124 million for his reelection so far.

But Minneapolis cannot. During one recent 12-month period, short-staffed police didn't have anyone immediately available to respond to 6,776 emergency calls. That figure will only get more alarming if they're forced to burn money on presidential candidates leading up to the 2020 election.

The problem is that while politicians preach personal responsibility, they're not particularly good at executing it themselves. According to the Center for Public Integrity, they're stiffing cities nationwide. And no one does stiffing quite like Donald Trump.

Take Lebanon, Ohio. It spent $16,000 on security for a Trump rally a year ago, a rather princely sum for a town of 21,000 people. A year later, Trump has yet to respond to its invoices.

The same can be said of Green Bay, Eau Claire, Tucson, and Mesa. All told, the center found 10 cities with unpaid police bills totaling $841,219, some three years old.

One could blame it on Trump's ineptitude as a money manager. When you inherit $400 million, yet still manage to go bankrupt six times, it's fairly certain you belong in the remedial class. After two years in office, he's already on pace to run up the largest deficits of any president ever.

Yet being a deadbeat has always been central to Trump's business strategy. After Spokane was stiffed for $65,000, Councilwoman Kate Burke noted, “Let’s be honest: When does Trump ever pay his bills?” Before the president planned a rally for Orlando in June, city officials made him pay upfront.

When Trump arrives at the Target Center, Minneapolis will essentially be hosting a party for unwanted guests. There's scant support for the president in the city or the immediate suburbs. The faithful will be coming from the distant exurbs and beyond.

No one disputes their right to party wherever they wish. But it might be nice if they embraced a core tenet of Republican philosophy and paid their own way, instead of assuming the government should cover the tab. And just to help them fulfill their beliefs, Minneapolis should demand its money upfront.