Monday, November 19, 2018

Dem governor's trips bust state's $2.6M security and travel budget

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. (Facebook)

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee has reportedly been racking up bills in security and travel expenses, state records show.

Records cited by the Seattle Times indicate that the Executive Protection Unit (EPU) – which accompanies Inslee on domestic and international trips -- has exceeded its $2.6 million budget by $400,000. And the costs are expected to rise.

In the past year, Inslee has made appearances in more than a dozen states – on official business and to campaign for Democratic candidates. The security detail that follows Inslee to-and-from events is akin to the Secret Service assigned to President Trump

Inslee’s post on the Democratic Governors Association ends in December, but the State Patrol is poised to increase its budget to cover the governor’s out-of-state travel over the next two years. The Patrol has already requested an additional $1.3 million to cover the costs of protecting the governor and his family, Northwest News Network reported, citing state troopers.

Troops assigned to Inslee’s travel events often work grueling schedules beyond the 40-hour workweek, Capt. Johnny Alexander of the Patrol’s Special Operations Division told the Times. And according to Sgt. Leonard Crichton, the schedule is starting to take its toll.

"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 in an email. "We are literally sending our troops all over the nation with sometimes only a couple days’ notice."

He added: "I am pretty sure we cannot continue at this level without something breaking."

But advocates have argued that the high costs are necessary because the threat of violence is very real. Last year a Ferndale, Wash., resident was arrested after threatening to shoot Inslee, Seattle's Q13 Fox reported.

Others maintain that cross-country travel is unpredictable, and incurs unanticipated expenses. Bad weather conditions, for example, once forced Inslee and his entourage to cancel return flights from an appearance in New Orleans, and purchase full-fare tickets in economy class for a different airline, according to the Times.

Inslee is among the Democratic contenders considering a presidential run in the 2020 election.


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