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Fargo to seek reimbursement for Trump fundraiser costs

President Donald Trump enters Scheels Arena in Fargo on June 27. Forum file photo

FARGO — Mayor Tim Mahoney said the city is looking into how it can recoup some of the expected costs for this Friday's visit by President Donald Trump to Fargo for a fundraiser for Kevin Cramer's Senate campaign.

Mahoney said the total bill should not be nearly as high as the price tag for the late June campaign rally at Scheels Arena where Trump spoke.

"It's not going to have as many people in attendance," Mahoney said. "The assumption is it's going to be cheaper than last time."

The Fargo police and street departments dedicated more than $35,000 in taxpayers' funds to planning, security, and traffic and crowd control for the June event. Overall, cost estimates provided by area law enforcement agencies added up to more than $104,500 for their parts in the rally, which drew thousands, many of whom were unable to get into the arena. None of those agencies sought reimbursement, spokespeople said.

Mahoney said seeking a reasonable reimbursement for the costs of this presidential stop is not out of line.

"It's really a campaign visit. It's not something that's open to the public, unless you have $1,000 in your pocket," the mayor said. "That is sometimes considered a campaign cost."

On Wednesday, Sept. 5, Mahoney said he had contacted Rick Berg, chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, about the issue. Mahoney said he was told any such payments would come from the national-level Republican Party.

"They're going to consider that," Mahoney said, though he had not heard back from the party as of Wednesday afternoon.

The event is scheduled for Friday afternoon, Sept. 7, at the Delta Hotels by Marriott in south Fargo. The cost of the fundraiser is $1,000 per couple, according to Cramer's Senate campaign website.

Mahoney said he would attend the event if there would be an opportunity to talk with the president about highway or Red River flood diversion infrastructure needs for the Fargo area.

"If it's going to be a campaign thing, I don't need to be there," he said.

Mahoney said Fargo officials would "love to talk about" infrastructure issues. "If we got an audience, that would be fantastic. We're requesting some time," he said.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol estimated that its contribution to the president's security in June topped $46,500 for wages, hotels and other expenses.

Maj. Tom Iverson, the patrol's chief of operations, said Wednesday that it was unknown what the patrol's cost estimate for this presidential visit will be.

"I do not know at this time" whether the patrol will seek reimbursement from any campaign organization for costs related to Friday's presidential visit, Iverson added.

Rep. Cramer, R-N.D., is challenging incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for her Senate seat. It's a closely watched contest nationally as November's elections near.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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