In January, three young preteen girls dubbed the USA Freedom Kids (aka the Freedom Girls) performed at a Donald Trump rally in Pensacola, Florida. Wearing American-flag dresses and singing a song that sounded vaguely fascistic, with lyrics like these, “Enemies of freedom face the music, c’mon boys, take them down, President Donald Trump knows how to make America great, deal from strength or get crushed every time,” the group of prepubescent teenagers and their manager, Jeff Popick, who is the father of the youngest girl, were delighted to perform for Trump.
But times change; Popick is suing the Trump campaign for violating its agreement with his group. He told The Washington Post, “This is not a billion-dollar lawsuit. I’m doing this because I think they have to do the right thing. And if this means having to go through the court system to enforce them doing the right thing, then that’s what I have to do. I’m not looking to do battle with the Trump campaign, but I have to show my girls that this is the right thing.”
At the beginning, things looked bright for the pairing between the candidate and the group, which had already been in existence for over two years; Popick contacted the Trump campaign, speaking with a number of people including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. The oral agreement that was reached stipulated that the group would perform twice in Popick’s native Florida. When the first event didn’t pan out, Popick asked for $2,500 for the second performance, in Pensacola on January 13. The campaign replied that instead of payment, they would arrange a table where the group could presell albums, which Popick agreed to.
At the event, no table was present, according to Popick, who added that the situation was “complete chaos. They clearly had made no provisions for that.”
Popick later contacted the campaign for some form of compensation, but they were non-responsive; he maintains that he had spent money on promotional materials and asserts that he lost several promotional opportunities.
Fast forward to late January, when Trump skipped the January Fox News debate and instead created an event on January 28 for veterans in Iowa. The day before the veterans event, a representative of the Trump campaign contacted Popick about his kids performing, promising Popick that his group would get “huge” exposure. Popick, the group and parents of the kids flew to Iowa, but when they landed the campaign informed him that the kids were only invited to attend the event, not perform. The Post reports:
The campaign asked Popick not to talk to the media, he says, but then gave them seats within arm’s length of the press. “They just were constantly coming over, wanting pictures,” Popick said of the news media. “They wanted to take pictures, they wanted to ask questions — and I had to be a real jerk.” The cost of the flights, rental car and hotel were all absorbed by Popick.
“And if this means having to go through the court system to enforce them doing the right thing, then that’s what I have to do.”
Jeff Popick, manager of the USA Freedom Kids
Following that debacle, Popick said he tried to contact the Trump campaign “again and again and again and again,” but staffers kept sending him to other staffers, and many of his calls were simply ignored. Popick shared emails he had written to the campaign with the Post; one from July 9 of this year read: “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.”
Popick concluded, “These are guys that insist they’re straight shooters. You may not like what we’re going to say, but we mean what we say and we say what we mean’ — and they just would not say anything of any substance! … I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, money, and it’s just been complete silence.”
Popick’s attorney said he could win the case; Popick stated, “We are owed compensation or, as the agreement is, a performance. That’s what the agreement was. In lieu of compensation, in lieu of monetary compensation, that we would have this performance. It was largely a verbal contract, but a contract nonetheless and on two different occasions.”