Tucson mayor demands Trump pay bill from 2016 event before campaign returns with ‘super-spreader' rally

Donald Trump has two campaign events in Arizona on Monday, and the mayor of Tucson is asking him to respect CDC guidelines - and pay for the last rally

Harriet Alexander
Monday 19 October 2020 20:28 BST
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Tucson mayor asks Trump to pay overdue rent for 2016 rally before holding his 2020 event

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The mayor of Tucson, Arizona has written to the Trump campaign pleading with them to respect measures put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, and asking for the payment of $80,000 in fees still not paid from his previous visit. 

Donald Trump will arrive in Tucson on Monday for a 3pm Make America Great Again rally, following an earlier event in Prescott, 200 miles to the north.

On Monday morning Regina Romero revealed that she has written to the campaign begging them to follow guidelines introduced to halt Covid-19, saying: “It would be deeply unfortunate if one gathering jeopardised all the progress we have made thus far.”

The mayor also wrote in her letter requesting that the campaign repay the expenses from Mr Trump’s May 2016 campaign stop, which are still outstanding.

“Back in 2016, he used the Tucson Convention Center and of course it is of utmost importance to us to protect the president of the United States of America in our city, but this is not an official campaign visit," she said. 

"So what we’re asking is that he pay back the Tucson taxpayers for the investment in security and the usage of our convention center in 2016.”

The campaign, she said, has not responded to her request.

Arizona was a hotspot for Covid-19 earlier in the year, and she praised the people of Tucson for having made “much sacrifice” to get the rate down.

Tucson has a mandatory mask order, which Ms Romero introduced on June 20, and recommends social distancing.

Arizona’s infections peaked on July 1, with 4,753 new cases in one day. Now there are roughly 700 cases a day being identified.

Ms Romero said she was concerned that Mr Trump’s rally could be “a super-spreader event.”

“We’ve made too many sacrifices to allow this to happen,” she told CNN. “We are asking that the Trump campaign really look at themselves.”

She admitted, however, that there was little she could do to enforce mask wearing at Monday’s event.

Masks are being encouraged, but their use is not compulsory.

“There’s not much we can do unless we have a police officer handing tickets, and we’re not going to do that,” she said. 

“We’re asking people to practise their judgement.”

Regina Romero listens as Tucson police chief Chris Magnus (right) speaks
Regina Romero listens as Tucson police chief Chris Magnus (right) speaks (AP)

She said she had not heard back from the campaign, which has expanded their estimated attendance from 5,000 people to 10,000.

“Maybe my letter exacerbated their plans to make it bigger,” she said. "We are very concerned.

“I want to seriously ask the Trump campaign to consider the CDC guidelines.”

She emphasised that the president was welcome, but said she did want him to follow the guidelines.

“We’ve been in this spot before, and we don’t want to go back.”

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