AEG Facility Caught in Political Crossfire as Trump Threatens to Sue Target Center, City of Minneapolis

Target Center
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Target Center, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team and Minnesota Lynx WNBA basketball team on May 22, 2015 in Minneapolis. 

The President's reelection campaign was told it would need to pay $530,000 for additional security at a rally.

Target Center in Minneapolis has been caught in the political crossfire over a Trump reelection campaign rally scheduled for Thursday. The President’s reelection campaign threatened to sue the arena for breach of contract after arena officials insisted the campaign incur the $530,000 price tag for additional security at the event. 

Politifact first reported the news that according to a Trump campaign letter to supports, the AEG-managed facility was told by Minneapolis city officials that it would personally have to foot the added security bill for the rally. In turn, Target Center GM Hugh Lombardi sent an Oct. 7 letter to White House director of presidential advance Bobby Peede, saying those costs would be passed onto the Trump campaign. Noting that the arena’s license agreement requires the White House to "pay for any law enforcement services necessary for the Event,” the city estimated the security costs for the Keep America Great rally scheduled for Thursday would total $530,000 and Lombardi warned that if payment arrangements were not made in advance, arena officials would have "no choice but to terminate the agreement." 

The reelection campaign responded to the arena with it’s own letter, claiming Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey was “using the bogus security charges to pressure the Target Center ... into preventing Minnesota residents from exercising their First Amendment rights in support of President Trump.”

"Frey’s city government preemptively informed the Target Center that it would be responsible for $530,000 in security and other costs related to the event,” the letter from the Trump 2020 campaign reads. "The Target Center attempted to pass the costs on to the Trump campaign under threat of withholding the use of the arena." 

AEG declined to comment for this story. 

The Trump campaign's letter goes on to claim that the $530,000 cost for security is more than 26 times the estimated security costs for a 2009 Target Center health care rally held by then-President Barack Obama, citing a Twin Cities article that cites former Minneapolis Police chief Tim Dolan expecting Obama’s security costs to top $20,000. 

City spokesperson Casper Hill told PolitiFact that the public safety costs are expected to be around $400,000, while additional fees for lane closures and traffic control would come to $130,00. 

Lawyers for the Trump campaign stated, “Neither the Campaign nor AEG is responsible for arranging or paying for rally-related security” and that the Secret Service is solely responsible for coordinating law enforcement services in connection with the rally. 

Federal Election Commission spokesman Myles Martin told PolitiFact that congressional or presidential campaign committees are not obligated to pay for expenses incurred by state or local government for campaign events. 

The Center for Public Integrity found in a national investigation that Trump owes city governments at least $841,219 for public safety costs going back as far as three years. The largest outstanding invoice is from Trump’s Feb. 11 rally in El Paso, Texas, which totals $470,147. 

After the President and Minneapolis' mayor exchanged words on Twitter on Tuesday, campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote in an email to supporters that “The Target Center has backed off cancelling the contract, which means President Trump’s Keep America Great rally will go on as scheduled.”

It’s unclear how the payments between the city and the arena were worked out. The rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday. The mayor's office did not respond to Billboard's request for comment at time of publishing.