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Shelling out for security for … who again?

No self-respecting politician worthy of his or her love affair in the mirror would ever admit this, but one of the really cool fringe benefits of being a high-ranking elected schmoozer is moving around with big, beefy guys in sunglasses who are talking into their hands.

We could probably call this the Jeff Kottkamp Complex, after the former lieutenant governor, who had all the official duties of Princess Anne yet insisted on a Beyonce-esque security detail just in case someone tried to steal his mustache.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has shelled out $77,000 in the past year protecting public officials you probably wouldn't recognize if they were walking through International Plaza with a neon sign over their head blinking: "Jack Markell!"

And just who is Jack Markell? Well apparently he was important enough for the FDLE to spend $8,166 to make sure he wasn't mobbed by panty-throwing groupies, or dragooned by swarthy Middle Eastern intelligence operatives, or imposed upon for his autograph by young girls confusing him with Justin Bieber during seven visits to the state.

As it turns out, Jack Markell is the governor of Delaware. Really now, how much danger could a guy be in with a lower public profile than the Blue Hen Chicken state bird, representing a place most people can't even identify on a map?

It seems that state chief executives have a sort of unspoken code of reciprocity between them so that when one governor goes to another governor's state, the visiting muckety-muck is accorded a special security detachment. Couldn't we just issue these freeloaders a can of Mace and instructions on how to dial 911 in case a waiter gets fresh?

The same apparently holds true for the family members of governors. When Supriya Jindal, the wife of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, came to Florida for personal reasons, she still benefited from $4,423 in taxpayer-funded FDLE security costs.

We paid more than $4,000 so that Supriya Jindal could go on vacation? Quick! Have you ever heard of Supriya Jindal? Do you know what she looks like? And, aside from spending $4,423 to protect her from the great unwashed, do you give a rat's patootie about Supriya Jindal?

No doubt our own Gov. Rick Scott enjoys this sort of vanity protection when he travels out of state, say to his hometown on the Asteroid Zircon 9. But let's face it, Scott is at great bodily risk only if you can get close enough to him with holy water, a wooden stake and some garlic.

Perhaps the goofiest moment of VIP security was when Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, who is so anonymous he makes Jack Markell look like Derek Jeter, showed up in Miami en route to a visit to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to meet with members of the Wyoming National Guard.

The cost to escort Mead from one end of the Miami airport to the other to catch a military flight to Cuba and then repeat the process in reverse when the governor returned: $2,342, which is about the price of a cab ride into the city if you're not paying attention.

Apparently Mead was simply too important to get around the Miami airport like the rest of the body politic — frantic, frenzied and groped by Transportation Security Administration gendarmes.

Of all the over-the-top security precautions, none seems more dubious than the $9,200 doled out to protect former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who required FDLE protection during five personal trips to Florida. And as we all know, when Sanford goes on a personal trip, he really goes on a personal trip.

Of course, it's altogether possible that Sanford, whose political career imploded after he admitted sneaking off to his Argentine mistress, might need some extra firepower around him considering his now ex-wife's parents live in Hobe Sound.

But just why the taxpayers are paying for a philandering former governor's personal travel to Florida to take tango lessons remains a bigger mystery than just who is Jack Markell, again.

It is probably perfectly acceptable to provide some modicum of security for visiting hotsy-tots if they are coming to Florida on official business. It makes no sense when states are ever tightening their belts to extend a security blanket over a nearly anonymous politician on a fishing vacation.

By the way, during his recent holiday in Montana, where Gov. Rick Scott no doubt spent his time laying off buffalo, the security detail failed miserably. It let him come back to Florida.

Shelling out for security for … who again? 08/01/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 1, 2011 5:31pm]

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