ICYMI: NBC News: U.S. Marshals Service spending millions on DeVos security in unusual arrangement
November 16, 2018
Betsy DeVos’ around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service could cost taxpayers as much as $19.8 million through next year. This costly arrangement is “the latest example of Trump cabinet members and other officials using far more taxpayer money than officials in past administrations did.”
NBC News: U.S. Marshals Service spending millions on DeVos security in unusual arrangement
By Heidi Przybyla
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other cabinet member that could cost U.S. taxpayers $19.8 million through September of 2019, according to new figures provided by the Marshals Service to NBC News.
While it remains unclear who specifically made the request, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions granted the protection on February 13, 2017, a few days after DeVos was heckled and blocked by a handful of protesters from entering the Jefferson Academy, a public middle school in Washington. DeVos was confirmed as education secretary on February 7 of that year.
“The order was issued after the Department of Education contacted administration officials regarding threats received by the Secretary of Education,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “The U.S.M.S. was identified to assist in this area based on its expertise and long experience providing executive protection.”
The cost of security provided to DeVos was $5.3 million in fiscal year 2017 and $6.8 million for fiscal year 2018, according to the Marshals Service — an amount that is ultimately reimbursed by the Education Department. The estimated cost for fiscal year 2019 is $7.74 million.
That far exceeds the $3.5 million spent on security for former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned in July amid questions about lavish spending habits during his 17-month tenure at the agency. An EPA inspector general report, released Sept. 4, found the price tag for Pruitt’s security detail was “not justified” and far exceeded the security costs incurred under past EPA heads.
Typically, cabinet secretaries are protected by security arranged by their departments’ internal enforcement units.
DeVos’s two immediate predecessors at the Education Department, Arne Duncan and John King Jr., each followed that model. Duncan and King, who served under President Barack Obama, were staffed by security agents who would escort them door to door.
After receiving the Marshals’ protection, DeVos spent less than 4 percent of her time visiting traditional public schools in the school year that began in September 2017, according to a tabulation by NBC News and the Watchdog group American Oversight, which was founded by lawyers, including several from the Obama administration, who focus on government ethics and conflicts of interest.
No other current cabinet official has been granted protection by the Marshals, the agency confirmed. In the past, only the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy received a detail from the agency.
The costly security arrangement for DeVos is the latest example of Trump cabinet members and other officials using far more taxpayer money than officials in past administrations did (although the Education Department contends that DeVos saves the government money by using her private jet for some travel).