Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is known for the massive collection of lawsuits he has piled up against him. He can now add another one to the list, as the creepily adorable dance troupe that performed at his Pensacola, Florida rally are now suing The Donald with allegations they were stiffed.
In January, the young dance troupe, The USA Freedom Kids hit viral fame after performing at a rally dressed in full “‘Murrica Gear” singing “Freedom’s Call.” Depending on what side of the political line people fell, it was either adorable or creepy – especially considering some of the lyrics they sang included, “Cowardice! Are you serious? / Apologies for freedom, I can’t handle this.” and “Deal from strength or get crushed!” However, viral fame does not necessarily pay the bills. Founder and father to one member of the dance group, Jeff Popick, alleged the Trump campaign broke their agreement on compensation not once but twice.
According to The Daily Beast:
‘The group’s founder, Jeff Popick, father to the youngest member, claims it was at that rally that the campaign broke its promise for compensation; only to once again break financial and logistic promises at another rally at which they were scheduled to appear.’
For the Pensacola rally, Popick was told by the Trump campaign regional field director, Stephanie Scruggs, that the Trump campaign was “not able to pay the girls or cover travel.” However, the Trump campaign did agree to allow the girls to set up a table where they could sell merchandise. Scruggs said to Popick, “However we have coordinated with the event space to allow the girls to set up a table and pre-sell their album, shirts, etc. if this is helpful to you.”
It seemed like a good deal for both parties as Popick figured he could make more in merchandise than he would with one payment from the Trump campaign, and the Trump campaign was getting free entertainment. However, no table was set up. On top of that, the girls were not allowed to bring their merchandise into the rally. Adding insult to injury, their merchandise was then stolen from the parking lot while they performed.
Despite this, Popick continued to work with the campaign and asked about future performances. When Donald Trump skipped the Fox News debate to hold his own rally, the campaign contacted him. According to The Washington Post, he was asked if they could perform at the Des Moines, Iowa rally (despite living in Florida). Despite being told the Trump campaign could offer no travel stipend, the group jumped at the opportunity and flew to Chicago then drove to Iowa – all out of their own pocket.
‘It was a long, overnight odyssey. They were exhausted, but excited to perform. We flew non-stop to Chicago, and then had to drive another five and a half hours to Des Moines. It wasn’t until after we were already in the vehicle about an hour or two into it that we had to break the news to the girls.’
However, after arriving they were informed they were no longer needed but offered great seats at the rally. He basically had to pay for flights, rental cars, and hotel costs out of his own pocket. He attempted to contact the campaign; however, phone calls were not returned. On July 9, he sent the campaign an email with one request – a performance at the Republican National Convention or payment.
‘We are now asking and DEMANDING for what has been promised to us and is now long-overdue (and has been rightly earned by us); that is, a performance at the convention. Or, be made whole.’
That request went unfulfilled. In a lawsuit filed in Sarasota County, Florida, the group is suing Trump for up to $15,000 in damages. Popick doesn’t feel he’s being unreasonable or looking for a payday saying, “This is not an opportunistic thing where we’re suing Donald Trump. We’re not suing for emotional distress and all that other stuff that people do . . . That’s not what this is. This is tangible dollars I spent under false pretenses.”
Despite the insult, Popick has remained as unbiased as possible saying he no longer has a position on Donald Trump and whether he is qualified to be president.
‘At this point, my position is that I have no position, really. What he’s done to my group or what he’s not done for my group doesn’t necessarily make him the best candidate, it doesn’t make him the worst candidate. I still have to mull that over. He might still be the best candidate as president of the United States — or not.’
Featured image via Getty/Alex Wong.