Four Years Later, Trump Still Owes Burlington for Campaign Rally | Off Message

Four Years Later, Trump Still Owes Burlington for Campaign Rally


A Burlington police officer on Main Street during the Trump rally - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • A Burlington police officer on Main Street during the Trump rally
On January 7, 2016, thousands of people lined Burlington's Main Street to get a glimpse of the nation's would-be president, Donald J. Trump, at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.

Four years later, Trump still hasn’t paid the city’s $8,500 bill for the additional police officers, firefighters and rescue personnel that were required to work that night.

Meanwhile, Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign is in full swing. He’s raised more than $200 million since 2017, including a $46 million haul during the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the campaign and finance disclosure filings.

Even before he was elected, city officials wanted Trump to pay up — but had little reason to think he would. In June 2016, the city decided against suing the Trump campaign over the bill, saying in a press release that it would not be “cost effective for the City to pursue collections remedies through the courts.”

"Paying the invoice remains the right and honorable thing for Mr. Trump to do," Mayor Miro Weinberger said in a statement at the time.
Burlington police billed Trump just over $7,200 in overtime costs for 33 officers; the fire department provided four personnel for a total of $1,260.

At the time, Weinberger blasted the Trump campaign for its "dramatic over-ticketing of the rally." The Flynn could only hold 1,400 people, but the campaign gave away thousands more. Weinberger said the campaign's lack of communication with the city and the public "put undue strain on the City’s police, and unnecessarily hurt downtown businesses."
Burlington isn’t the only community Trump has stiffed: He owes at least nine other municipalities cash for campaign rally costs, according to a June 2019 report from the Center for Public Integrity.

Two former White House denizens have an even older outstanding bill with the Queen City. The Obamas owe Burlington nearly $5,900 for campaign events held during their second term, according to city records.

Then-first lady Michelle Obama held two fundraisers in Vermont in June 2011, including one at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain that cost $5,000 per person or $10,000 per couple to attend. The city billed the campaign $2,064 for police services, according to Weinberger spokesperson Olivia LaVecchia.

In March 2012, then-president Barack Obama wooed a crowd of 4,400 at the University of Vermont's Patrick Gymnasium on his reelection tour, raising an estimated $750,000, Seven Days reported then. Burlington police billed $2,816 for the 10 officers who provided traffic control and security; the fire department asked for a $1,015 reimbursement. All bills remain unpaid, LaVecchia said Tuesday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), however, did pay his $858 bill for his May 2015 presidential campaign kickoff on the Burlington waterfront, which required four police officers and two firefighter/EMTs.
Trump campaign treasurer Bradley Crate did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An inquiry to the office of Barack and Michelle Obama was also not immediately returned.

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