NewsCovering Kentucky


Who is paying for Trump's visit? Mayor Gorton weighs in

Posted at 2:32 PM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-22 12:55:58-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — President Donald Trump is coming to Lexington, and as is the case with any presidential visit, he’s coming with a large price tag.

“There will be police overtime involved, streets will be closed and there will be changes to some traffic,” said Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton. Trump is coming to stage a “Keep America Great” rally for himself, but in reality the timing of the visit (one day before Election Day), could work to Governor Matt Bevin’s advantage as he’s looking to stave off Attorney General Andy Beshear next month to win another term in Frankfort.

Speaking from the grand opening of the new playground at Shillito Park, Gorton said her office will be in contact with many cities, which have hosted recent Trump visits to see what kind of price tag this will carry, and how to best manage all of the logistics that go into staging a visit from a sitting president. She also referenced a recent gubernatorial race when discussing the costs.

“One year there was a president (George W. Bush), who came to campaign for (former Governor) Ernie Fletcher, and Ernie Fletcher’s campaign paid for it all,” Gorton said.

Bevin’s campaign may not be on the hook for this visit, however, since it is being branded as a rally for the President. CNN, citing the Center for Public Integrity, recently reported that at least six cities still haven’t been reimbursed by the Trump campaign for various rallies.

“We’re working real hard to get this in the plans,” Gorton concluded.

Worth keeping an eye on once those bills from the Nov. 4 visit are due around here.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gorton spokeswoman Susan Straub sent the following guidance:

"Several citizens have asked about the upcoming presidential visit. Here's what we learned:

"Lexington Center has contracted with the Trump re-election campaign. The contract requires up-front payment of the standard $40,000 rental rate, plus a payment for additional staffing.

"* Rupp Arena is a public facility. Lexington Center is required to rent the facility to lawful organizations on open dates.

"* The city’s agreement and general practice with events at Rupp is that we provide additional police presence for any event that attracts over 10,000 people. This is done to provide increased protection for the general public, as well as the individuals leasing the facility.

"* There are additional security costs that are not related to Lexington Center. When other national elected figures who have had secret service protection have come to town ... including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders, Vice President Mike Pence ... we have not charged for security. There is no law that allows us to do so, or that requires campaigns to reimburse us.

"*Police leadership always works to minimize overtime costs.

"Our standard is about protection of free speech and safety for all."