GOP govs’ trips add to security tab in Florida
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The cost of providing security to a long list of Republican governors, including S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, who visited Tampa for the Republican National Convention, drove up the price that Florida taxpayers shelled out last year for security details.
A new report released Monday shows that the state spent more than $2.64 million on security for Florida Gov. Rick Scott and important visitors to the state.
That’s the highest amount spent by the state on security in the last eight years and a 6 percent jump over the previous year. The report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement covers spending from July 2012 to June 2013.
Other frequent visitors who received security details were Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Visitors to the state last year also included President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other high-ranking elected officials from around the country.
The biggest share of costs — $2.2 million — was spent on agents to provide around-the-clock security for Scott, as well as security for first lady Ann Scott. This total also includes travel costs for security details. While security costs were relatively flat for the Republican governor, the amount spent on the first lady went up by more than $70,000 in the last year.
Besides the convention, FDLE provided security for six other trips by Haley, including two personal trips to the Sunshine State in late December and in March.
“I appreciate the fact that if we go to another state, they make sure we have security,” Haley said.
Jindal had security provided on four different trips.
Florida agrees to provide security to visiting officials because other states foot the bill when Gov. Scott visits them.
“What they choose to expense their security at, versus what we expense ours at, you know, may be different,” Haley said. “What I will tell you is that if any governor comes to South Carolina, we’re going to make sure they have security.”
That would include Haley’s re-election campaign announcement on Monday in Greenville, which Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are scheduled to attend.
“We will be utilizing our resources and personnel for the event and do not anticipate any outside expenses,” said SLED spokesman Thom Berry. “ The governors of the states that will be attending travel with their own security details. We will provide assistance to them while they are in South Carolina.”
Florida also spent nearly $426,000 on more than 90 security details for visiting politicians, including Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan. A large share of that cost, however, came from security provided during the weeklong convention.
The state spent nearly $1,500 on a trip by President Obama in September 2012 and nearly $553 on a visit by Biden. The state also spent money on two visits by Romney and Ryan.
The new report also shows the state paid more than $7,000 to provide security for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi during the convention and two other times.
Schuyler Kropf and Robert Behre of The Post and Courier contributed to this story. Follow Gary Fineout on Twitter at http://twitter.com/fineout.