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N4T Investigators: Pay to Play

TUCSON – “I suspect over the years maybe I’ll be back a lot,” Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters at the Tucson Convention Center in March 2016. “Now if I lose, maybe not so much. But if I win, I will remember the people of Tucson. I will remember the people of Arizona.”

Although then-candidate Trump told supporters he’ll remember Tucson, his 2016 campaign has still not paid Tucson.

As we first reported three years ago, city invoices show the 2016 “Trump for President” campaign owes the city nearly $82,000. Those are taxpayers dollars. The bill was for police providing security during the rally. Trump’s campaign isn’t the only one owing the city money.

Records show that the 2016 campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders owes the city $44,000 for police protection. Like Trump’s campaign, Sanders has refused to pay. It responded to City Attorney Mike Rankin’s Demand Letter letter with a letter of its own, stating, “The campaign did not contract for, nor did it request or arrange for the Tucson Police Department to provide public safety at the campaign event.” Sanders’ attorney also said the city “…should discuss cost-sharing matters directly with the Secret Service.”

So the city of Tucson, one of the poorest in the country, is owed a total of nearly $126,000 taxpayers dollars.

City Attorney Rankin told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, “What we’ll do is we will build in the projected cost for those types of services into the deposit which is required to be paid upfront.”

Rankin was referring to the policy change we first reported last year. Candidates will no longer be allowed to hold a rally in the city without an upfront payment. The amount will be based on the candidates’ requests and police department input.

Rankin said, “If a particular user doesn’t want to agree to our terms, then they’ll have to find another place to hold their event.”

In other words, if President Trump or any other candidate refuses to pay the deposit, the city would reject the rally.

Councilman Steve Kozachik said, “They go out and they raise tens of millions of dollars to run these campaigns. City of Tucson taxpayers should not be on the hook to fund their security when they come into the city of Tucson.” Asked what he would say to the Trump and Sanders’ campaigns, Kozachik said, “Pay us what you owe us before you come back and for another shot at this place.”

Spokespersons for Trump’s and Sanders’ campaigns have not returned our calls but based on their responses to the city attorney’s Demand letters, they apparently have no intention of ever paying the city back. Things could get interesting if any candidate wants to hold a rally in Tucson and refuses to pay the upfront deposit.

If you have a story you’d like us to investigate, email us at or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

Matthew Schwartz

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