FARGO - In a debate over whether President Donald Trump's campaign should pay for costs the city incurred during his recent visit, a commissioner widely thought to be a fan of the president said Monday, July 16, that, actually, Trump's campaign should pay.
City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, upon learning that North Dakota State University and the Fargodome pay for extra security during tailgating, said the same logic applies to political rallies.
"Here's my philosophy: If the president comes here, that's on us," he said. "But if it's a campaign, and that's what this was, then I think they should be, like the Fargodome, paying for the (security) detail."
Commissioner John Strand, who has been at odds with Piepkorn on such Trump signature issues as refugee resettlement, agreed. "It makes perfect sense to me. If it's a campaign, the campaign should bear the responsibility of the costs."
Trump held a rally supporting Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., in his senatorial campaign June 27 at Scheels Arena. The total cost of security and other services was estimated at more than $104,000 for local and state agencies, with Fargo police spending $31,147.58.
Strand was the one who brought up the repayment issue because there's been a lot of talk among residents about it. He told commissioners he just wanted to have an open discussion about it and see if there was a need for a policy. The community, he said, has been visited many times by national figures such as Bill Clinton, Bernie Sanders and, of course, Trump.
Mayor Tim Mahoney said the police's role is to protect people, including those attending political rallies. They weren't protecting Trump because the Secret Service does that, Mahoney said.
"I think we have more important things to discuss," Commissioner Tony Grindberg said. "If the president of the United States wants to come here, whatever his agenda is, let him come and not worry about it. He's the president of the United States."
Commissioners closed their discussion without agreeing to bill the Trump campaign.