El Paso lawyered up to try and collect $570,000 owed to the city by the Trump campaign from a rally 2 years ago

By Kelsey Vlamis

The City of El Paso hired legal counsel to help it collect the more than half a million dollars owed to the city by the Trump campaign from a rally almost two years ago, local station KTSM reported.

The city council voted unanimously on Monday to hire external lawyers to help collect the nearly $570,000 in debt that the city has been trying to collect since February 2019.

A Trump campaign rally took place that month at the El Paso County Coliseum. The city spent about $470,000 on security and other expenses, according to the Texas Tribune. The additional debt is for a one-time late payment fee of about $99,000, or 21%.

The city council vote came days after news that National Guard personnel were deployed to the western Texas city to help with overflowing morgues as it battles the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

Earlier this month, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told Business Insider's Charles Davis that the city is in need of federal funding to help fight the spread of the virus and protect the local economy.

"We all are seeing firsthand the struggles that everyday El Paso families have, in addition to the challenges that we have in our own budget," Peter Svarzbein, a city council member, said, according to KTSM.

"So this amount of money is not inconsequential and also the message that we send that nobody is above the law is also an important one for our community to understand as well," he added.

The Tribune also reported the city considered suing the campaign earlier this year over the owed money.

"We're on unprecedented territory by having to collect an outstanding invoice from a sitting president," the city attorney, Karla Nieman, reportedly told the Tribune.

The city said the decision to hire outside counsel would not fall on the taxpayers, as the Law Office of Snapper L. Carr is only to be paid if the debt is successfully collected.

The Trump campaign did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

It is not clear how much debt the Trump campaign holds. Donations solicited this month to supposedly pay for President Donald Trump's legal challenges regarding the election were actually mostly going to be used to pay off campaign debt, according to the fine print on the donations page.