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Minneapolis tries to ensure Trump won't stiff it for $530,000 in rally costs

Most cities never bother to send a bill, assuming politicians won't pay. Duluth ate $69,000 in police costs for a Trump rally last year.

Most cities never bother to send a bill, assuming politicians won't pay. Duluth ate $69,000 in police costs for a Trump rally last year. Glen Stubbe

Donald Trump has a long history of stiffing friend and foe alike. That includes the cities in which he holds rallies, which he's jilted for $841,219 in unpaid police bills over the last three years.

Minneapolis wishes not to be the latest victim.

Trump is holding a rally at the Target Center on Thursday. Though the Secret Service is primarily responsible for security, it has nowhere near enough people to handle street closings, traffic, or crowd control. So it routinely asks local police to do the heavy lifting.

Those expenses will come at a princely cost to the cash-strapped Minneapolis Police Department, already so underfunded it failed to immediately respond to 6,776 emergency calls during a recent 12-month period. The city is estimating its rally costs at $530,000.

The figure is somewhat comparable to expenses for a February Trump rally in El Paso, Texas, a similarly contentious site on the Mexican border. Since departments can't simply pull officers away from more pressing duty, these events tend to come with major overtime bills. El Paso spent $470,417, which included extra busing for attendees.

Because rallies are purely political affairs, rather than official business, El Paso sent Trump a bill. Seven months later, he's still ignoring it, even though he's already raised $124 million for his reelection campaign. Cities from Green Bay to Spokane have met with the same stonewall.

Since Minneapolis has no leverage to get Trump to pay, it told AEG, which manages the Target Center, that it would be responsible for picking up the tab. According to the Star Tribune, AEG reportedly told Trump that he couldn't use the arena unless a check was forthcoming.

This, as you may have expected, produced the twin hallmarks of contemporary politics: outrage and threats of litigation.

Trump responded with a letter from his law firm, Jones Day, saying he'll sue AEG if it backs out of the rally. The contract states that the Secret Service is responsible for security, lawyers contend. But since the agency is not capable of actually providing all that that entails, it appears both parties simply assumed Minneapolis would shoulder the bill.

If AEG doesn't confirm that the rally is a go by 11 a.m. this morning, Jones Day is promising to hurl a a great deal of menacing paperwork its way.

Though no one else has quite the history of stiffing cities like Trump, both Democrats and Republicans have dabbled in this brand of deadbeatism. Most cities just expect they'll be stiffed and don't bother to send bills.

A year ago, Rochester ate $76,138 for a Trump rally. Duluth lost $69,000.

As Duluth spokeswoman Kate Van Daele told the Star Tribune, cities only dive further in the hole if they waste time hoping to be repaid:

"We just don't hear back historically. So that's why we, regardless of party, we just have chosen not to invoice because traditionally that's been our experience, and the experience of a lot of other municipalities."