Security and travel expenses for Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee have reportedly maxed out the taxpayer-funded budget for the security detail responsible for protecting him.
The Executive Protection Unit which accompanies the Democratic governor on domestic and international travel has exceeded its $2.6 million budget allotment by $400,000, according to the Seattle Times.
The figure is expected to increase as Inslee, who is considering a possible 2020 bid for president, will likely have more out-of-state travel over the next two years. Inslee has crossed the country in recent months campaigning for Democratic candidates ahead of midterm elections and in his capacity as chair of the Democratic Governors Association, a term which will end for Inslee in December.
The Patrol is seeking a $1.3 million budget increase as overtime and travel accounted for 62 percent of the expenses associated with the budget-breaking expenditures.
The State Patrol is required by state law to protect the governor and his family and, in July, two troopers clocked a total of over 90 overtime hours costing more than $12,600 as they accompanied Inslee on political visits to New York and Miami.
“This was absolutely a busy travel year,” Inlsee spokeswoman, Jaime Smith, said. “This is the cost that the State Patrol and the Executive Protection Unit has to incur to do this job.”
According to the Seattle Times:
The security detail is a specialized eight-person unit, akin to the U.S. Secret Service. Its troopers drive Inslee to and from events, and hover in the background, keeping an eye out for threats. On travel days, one trooper typically goes ahead of the governor to prepare for his arrival. A second travels with Inslee and “must sit close to the Governor” even if that means flying business class, according to a State Patrol budget document.
Because troopers are required to stick close to the outdoorsy Democrat, they have charged the state for expenses including renting cross-country skis in Montana and a bicycle in Nantucket, Mass., according to hundreds of pages of travel records released to The Seattle Times and Northwest News Network under the state Public Records Act.
The grueling schedules, exceeding 40-hour work weeks, are taking a toll, according Sgt. Leonard Crichton who wrote about it an an email, the Seattle Times reported.
“Given the significant increase in travel over the last 2 years, I am becoming concerned about the long-term effects of the health/welfare/demands we are placing on our troops,” Crichton wrote. “We are literally sending our troops all over the nation with sometimes only a couple days’ notice.”
“I am pretty sure we cannot continue at this level without something breaking,” he added.
While the Democratic Governors Association has covered Inslee’s travel expenses using campaign funds, Washington state taxpayers have remained responsible for funding for the State Patrol troopers, such as airline tickets, rental cars, hotel rooms and overtime.
“The DGA leaves security personnel decisions to states’ executive protection units,” spokesman Jared Leopold said when asked why the association didn’t use some of its reported $63 million in 2018 donations to offset the cost.
It is noteworthy that Inslee is considering a presidential run in the 2020 election, according to Fox News.
- 52 passengers boarded plane with neg Covid results, test positive after landing in Hong Kong - April 26, 2021
- Supreme Court agrees to hear major gun rights case on concealed handguns - April 26, 2021
- Final Census data shows the blue states likely to lose House seats, and the red states picking them up - April 26, 2021