Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

Florida spent $2.6 million on security for Gov. Rick Scott, dignitaries

TALLAHASSEE — Florida taxpayers spent more than $2.6 million in the past year to provide security for Gov. Rick Scott, first lady Ann Scott and dozens of visiting out-of-state dignitaries who came to make speeches, play politics, fish and soak up the sun.

The security cost is the highest in at least eight years, in part because more than two dozen governors came to Tampa last August for the 2012 Republican National Convention.

The expenses are detailed in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report released Monday.

The cost of round-the-clock protection for Gov. Scott totaled $1.8 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, a slight decrease from the previous year. Most of that cost are salaries and overtime pay to FDLE agents assigned to guard the governor at all times, with transportation costs a distant second.

First lady Scott's security costs rose by nearly one-third last year, to $225,000, a reflection of her increased visibility.

"She has traveled the state, promoting reading and literacy, meeting with Florida military families and finding forever homes for Florida's foster children," said Jackie Schutz, a spokesman for the governor.

FDLE for years has provided security and transportation to visiting leaders from other states and countries, and a state law says Florida's failure to do so could cause "public embarrassment" to the state.

Law enforcement agents helped to guard first lady Michelle Obama when she visited the University of Florida last September.

Agents also were by the side of Texas Gov. Rick Perry when he went fishing with Scott in Destin last August, and they were close by on a day in July when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stood in the back of a pickup truck in Coral Springs, near Fort Lauderdale, to mock President Barack Obama's "you didn't build that" remark.

Jindal and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell each received state-funded security on four trips to Florida in the past year. One of McDonnell's visits was as keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Florida's victory dinner in Orlando on Oct. 4.

FDLE's security report also lists trips that correspond with an August 2012 swing by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to St. Augustine and South Florida. Vice President Joe Biden received protection during an October visit, as did Quebec premier Pauline Marois in November.

The single costliest security assignment was to protect South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during the week of the Republican convention, which cost nearly $18,000.

Haley was one of 28 chief executives who received protection at the convention, including the governors of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Haley has paid seven visits to the state in the past year, the most of any out-of-state dignitary, including a March speech to an Orlando conference that was attended by 4,000 companies that supply Walmart stores.

Three times during the past year, the report said, FDLE agents provided security for Attorney General Pam Bondi at a total cost of $7,300. One of those events was the week of the GOP convention when the FDLE also offered protection for state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The total cost for all security during the past year was $2,643,876.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18