MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of people filled Amsoil Arena in Duluth Wednesday night to hear President Donald Trump talk about jobs, immigration and the upcoming election.
Barb from Burnsville wanted to know: Who pays for rallies like these? Good Question.
“So the taxpayers are on the hook for part of it no matter what. But guess what? That’s not just with Trump. That was true with Obama, that was true with any other president out there,” said Hamline University political science professor David Schultz. “Even for pure, political events, taxpayers are still on the hook for some, some of what’s going on.”
Taxpayers are mainly paying for security. Federal tax dollars pay for Secret Service. And local agencies — such as police, fire and emergency services — can expect overtime costs.
A Trump rally in Lynden, Washington — population 14,000 — cost taxpayers $155,000 for added security. A rally in Phoenix cost more than $450,000.
Officials in Duluth say it will be a week before they know how much they are paying, but a port security grant will offset some of the costs.
“If it’s partisan, political activity, then it has to come from non-governmental, non-taxpayer sources,” Schultz said.
And that is where it can get tricky. Rallies are one thing, but round tables like the one President Trump held in Duluth could be considered official business.
“How much does the taxpayer pay for as legitimate business for the president, versus how much gets carved out in terms of a partisan event, paid for by the president’s campaign team or others? It makes it difficult to calculate the numbers,” Schultz said.
He said that the Government Accountability Office can help break down what cities owe versus what political parties owe after a president visits.