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Second Trump visit racks up $14,000 in costs for Fargo police

Mayor says no one offering to pay, so he’s not pursuing reimbursement

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President Donald Trump raises a fist to Rep. Kevin Cramer and his wife, Kris, at the close of his speech during a campaign stop at Delta Hotels by Marriott of Fargo on Friday, Sept. 7. 2018.
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FARGO — The Fargo Police Department spent more than $14,000 for its personnel to provide planning, intelligence and security for President Donald Trump’s visit to Fargo in September, but the city may not see a dime of that money paid back.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said last week that he had reached out to Republican Party representatives and to their Senate candidate, Rep. Kevin Cramer, to ask if there would be any payment from the campaign or the national party for presidential security for the Sept. 7 visit at a Cramer fundraiser.

“The national committee of Republicans did not reach out to us and offer to pay for that,” Mahoney said Friday, Oct. 12. “Because no one was offering to pay for it, I didn’t pursue it any further than that.”

A inquiry on the issue with Cramer at a recent event held at the Fargo Air Museum also failed to gain traction. “There was no offer (to pay anything) at that time,” Mahoney said.

The Fargo Police Department had 44 sworn officers and one civilian put in 384½ regular hours of work and 8 hours of overtime for the event over four days, according to a detailed spreadsheet provided Wednesday, Oct. 17, by public information officer Jessica Schindeldecker. The total cost was $14,357.58.

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Chief David Todd said the police department had not billed anyone and has not heard from the mayor on whether the department should bill anyone, Schindeldecker said.

Cramer, R-N.D., is challenging incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for her Senate seat. It's a closely watched contest nationally as the November election nears. Democrats are hoping to gain enough seats in this election to gain a majority in the Senate.

Mahoney said it’s nice to have the president visit Fargo, but he figures that since it was a campaign fundraiser, that perhaps some of that cash could help the city meet its bills.

“This is an interesting campaign. With millions of dollars being spent, I don’t think our costs were that much,” Mahoney said.

The day before the June 7 event at the Delta Hotels by Marriott, the Cramer campaign said it had already raised $1 million. Attendance at the event came with a price tag of $1,000 per couple.

Mahoney said Gov. Doug Burgum and others believe that having Trump and some of his advisers here gives state and local leaders valuable access so “we can have discussions about other issues, and it helps us to be able to push forth an agenda for the state of North Dakota.”

At the same time, he said it’s also a cost of doing business.

“Maybe that’s just part of the running the city, maintaining and offering the things that protect people,” Mahoney said.

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Mahoney had predicted that the security costs for the second rally would be lower, because it wouldn’t involve the thousands who attended, or wanted to attend, the Scheels Arena rally in June, held by Trump to support Cramer.

He was right.

Fargo’s police and street departments dedicated more than $35,000 in taxpayers' funds to planning, security, and traffic and crowd control for the first rally.

Overall, cost estimates provided by area law enforcement agencies added up to more than $104,500 for their parts in the Scheels Arena rally, which drew thousands, many of whom were unable to get into the arena. None of those agencies sought reimbursement, spokespeople said.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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