The city spent more than $16,000 on the Aug. 17 rally held at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Of the total $16,711.70 of city funds spent on the rally, $8,125 was spent on buses to transport attendees to and from satellite parking lots at the Civic Center and Hank Aaron Stadium. A total of 14 buses were provided through three different transportation companies, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s Chief of Staff Colby Cooper said, in addition to eight buses rented for $5,100 from the Trump campaign.
Initially the campaign was going to provide only the eight buses they rented, but Cooper said the administration made the determination more buses would be needed, as the rally’s projected crowd grew the day of the event.
“The scenario changed,” Cooper said. “They were paying for everything they asked for.”
The campaign did pay $5,000 to rent the stadium and also paid for stadium security guards and $5 parking fee charged to attendees went to the Mobile BayBears and Civic Center management SMG, Cooper said. The campaign also paid for stadium security. The city picked up the tab for overtime for addition Mobile Police officers the administration felt was necessary in the amount of $7,431.70
In addition to the overtime and transportation, the administration paid for $1,155 for 150 king cakes in a jar by EllenJay, Cooper said. The cakes were purchased for members of out-of-town media, as a way to display the city’s southern hospitality, he said. It was a “welcome to Mobile” gesture.
“We wanted to show a taste of our spirited, soulful hospitality,” Cooper said. “It was very important to be able to tell people Mobile was a hospitable place.”
Councilman Fred Richardson said the administration should ask the campaign for reimbursement of the transportation expenses. Otherwise, he said, it looks like the city has a political lean.
Cooper said the administration would not be asking for a reimbursement “for decisions the mayor’s office made.” He added that it was just the “cost of doing business.” He said the decision was not political and the administration would have made the same calls for any candidate who brought the type of crowd Trump was expecting.
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