Fla. Spends $2.5M on Security

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida spent nearly $2.5 million in the past year to provide security for Gov. Rick Scott, as well as a long list of visiting governors and leaders from other U.S. territories and Puerto Rico. That was the highest amount spent by state authorities on security in the last seven years, according to an annual report released Monday.

Most of the money was spent on agents to provide around-the-clock security for Scott, as well as security for First Lady Ann Scott and upgrades to the security system at the Governor’s Mansion.

Florida also spent nearly $295,000 on security for politicians including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. A large bulk of the cost came from security provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for the Republican Governors Association conference, held late last year in Orlando.

In total, FDLE provided 79 security details in the last year including details for six official visits by Jindal and one personal visit by Jindal’s family, three visits by Haley, five visits by Markell or his family, and five visits by Walker. The state also provided security for five visits by the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands and visits by the governor of Puerto Rico and the governor of American Samoa.

Florida agrees to provide security to visiting officials because other states foot the bill when Gov. Scott visits their state.

The report also shows that the state paid nearly $1,000 to provide security for two visits by First Lady Michelle Obama and to have agents escort Attorney General Pam Bondi when she attended oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court back in March.

The state spent more than $15,000 to provide security for four days for Bondi. She has been a staunch opponent to the federal health care overhaul that ultimately was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Florida was the lead state in suing to overturn the overhaul and wound up paying more than $38,000 in legal expenses on the lawsuit.

The total Florida spent on providing security for other officials was actually $63,000 less than what the state spent during the 2010-11 fiscal year which runs from July 1 to June 30.

But the cost for providing security to the governor increased from $1.8 million to nearly $2.2 million in the last year. FDLE reported spending more on details as well as spending more on transportation and other expenses. The report covers a time period when Scott took trips to Brazil, Israel and Spain.

“Governor Scott is active and his work schedule often exceeds 8-hours-a-day and includes most weekends,” said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. “Each security detail is different and we adjust accordingly.”