Florida spent nearly $3 million to protect Scott, Bondi and visiting governors



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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — The cost to Florida taxpayers to provide around-the-clock security for visiting governors and other officials jumped in the past year, partly because of high-profile Republicans who were in the state to campaign for Gov. Rick Scott.

An annual report released Friday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement showed that the state spent nearly $2.9 million on security expenses between July 2014 and June 2015.

Most of that total — nearly $2.37 million — was to provide constant protection for Scott and his wife whether he's traveling, at his home in Naples or at the governor's mansion.

But the overall cost to guard Scott and his family remained relatively unchanged from a year ago.

Instead, the cost to guard visiting governors — such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — shot up from more than $100,000 a year ago to more than $530,000.

Taxpayers picked up the bill for 10 visits by Jindal and 11 trips by Christie. The report showed that the dates of some of the visits coincided when the GOP governors — including Jindal, Christie and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — were campaigning side by side with Scott during his tough re-election battle.

The state paid more than $20,000 to provide security for Jindal and nearly $18,000 to help guard Christie. Jindal, Christie and Perry are all now running for president. Another presidential candidate — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — has had a security detail on three visits to the state.

FDLE officials say they routinely provide security for any visiting governor, even if the trip is political. The agency also spent more than $95,000 to provide security to last year's annual Republican Governors Association conference held in Boca Raton.

"We have a reciprocal agreement with other states for the protection of governors from other states," said Molly Beck, a spokeswoman for the agency. " Other states have their own security personnel that travel with their governor. When they visit our state, we supplement their resources as needed."

Another significant security cost came after authorities provided around-the-clock security for Attorney General Pam Bondi for six weeks this year because of a threat that is still under investigation.

Authorities had not previously acknowledged the threat until Friday, when the report showed FDLE spent more than $216,000 providing security for Bondi this past year. Cabinet officials normally do not have a security detail assigned to them.

FDLE officials would not provide any details about the threat but called it "credible." They provided security for Bondi from late May until early July.

"In the face of a serious threat, I have never experienced so many sleepless nights," Bondi said in a statement. "And I would like to thank the great men and women of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for their professionalism and skill in protecting me."


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