Since Independent Security Advisors wrote our last article on executive protection for elected officials (see link below) another article on the same topic has been published, this one very well written by Russ Choma and Sinduja Rangarajan of Mother Jones. We became aware of it thanks to Legend Tony Scotti, a friend, and early mentor as ISA got off the ground in 2011.
Well, welcome gentlemen, it’s always nice to have others share, update or clarify some of the same information, or make some of the same points we have been making since 2011 and writing about since 2017.
In this article, the authors among other things, break down the information in FCC reports and in recent campaign filings that they note “show a dramatic surge in spending on security” for elected officials. In their self-described “analysis of campaign finance records” the authors point out “in the three months after the Capitol attack, security spending jumped 176 percent from the same period last year”. Russ Choma and Sinduja Rangarajan
Well, that is to be expected, the Sargent of Arms and Capitol Police have been reporting a large increase in threats to elected officials. The Task Force 1-6 review led by Gen. Russel Honore of the security of the Capitol and elected officials also makes the point more is needed to be done to secure our democracy. That will cost money.
It’s all about the money
But looking deeper into the numbers quoted in the article we see things like in the first three months of 2021 Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) paid $58,000 for protection. Making the correct decision to hire a security firm providing executive protection and three former Secret Service agents from her father’s vice presidential detail.
But Rep Cheney wasn’t alone, the authors report Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) campaign spent $70.000 on security during the first quarter of 2021, the “first payment two days after the events of January 6th, 2021”. Russ Choma and Sinduja Rangarajan
The authors also mention:
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), paid $43,000 to Ambolt Security Group which apparently says on its website “Security is not a subject that members of Congress seem eager to discuss”. Well, that is an opinion we have shared since 2011.
Others include: (Not independently confirmed)
Sen Ted Cruz’s (R-Tx) campaign; $74,000; Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) $44,000; Sen. Raphael Warnock (D- Ga) $245,000 with $136,000 during the first quarter of 2021; Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga) $50,000 between January and April 2021; Rep Kelly (D-Ar) $130,000 so far this year; Rep Cortez (D-NY) $47,000 on security between January and April and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), $35,000 January to April.
Mother Jones estimates $2.6 million was spent on security for just some elected officials in the first three months of 2021 alone. Russ Choma and Sinduja Rangarajan
As we have highlighted in previous articles (see list below) and Mother Jones mentions in its article, it took the 2011, shooting of Rep Gifford’s (D-Ar) and the 2017 shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), for the FEC to allow campaign funds to be used “to pay for the reasonable costs associated with installing (or upgrading) and monitoring a security system at Members’ residences.” But these are physical security measures, and a camera isn’t a measure that actively protects the official.
In 2021 after the events of Jan 6th Democratic Representatives in the House and the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee asked the FEC to formally authorize the use of campaign funds for security details, and in March the FEC ruled that Members of Congress “may use campaign funds to pay for bona fide, legitimate, professional personal security personnel to protect themselves and their immediate families when federal agents are not protecting the Members or the Members’ families.” Russ Choma and Sinduja Rangarajan
We mentioned in our last article the 115th Congressional handbook says that very thing. It’s no secret money was available for private security to provide protection “for official events”. But FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub is reported to also have had some reservations about how they would define” bona fide, legitimate, professional personal security personnel”. These concerns, unfortunately, were ignored after Republican lawyers “argued that drawing up language to police the credentials of the guards would slow down the process of getting protection in place for members of Congress who needed it”.
A totally ridicules argument to make because states already have some regulations in place, so instead of a clear definition that would have allowed the private sector to begin the process of training, and giving states time to consider if they had the appropriate procedures for agents to receive the proper credentials to offer services, the FEC has incorrectly in our opinion posed no limitations on who could be paid with campaign funds to perform security.
Now unless a state has some type of policy cousin Bob or the intern could be “security”, and this is a dangerous decision. A decision that will lead to untrained and unprepared private security providing specialized EP services that endanger elected officials and candidates for office.
We will also need to be prepared for increased insurance rates as more “agents” conduct operations in an unsafe manner, which will include unlicensed or credentialed security providers operating across state lines.
And how will elected officials react when these expensive “agents” are guilty of violating the 1st amendment rights of the media, constituents, or protestors. In Alaska, a private security team for a Republican nominee for U.S. Senate handcuffed a member of the media. And don’t get us started on the security for 2012 presidential candidate Michael Bachman.
Final Thoughts…Until Next Time
Nick Steen, a retired Secret Service agent and former supervisor of the presidential protection division is quoted in the article as saying “it’s clear that members of Congress require more protection” and “that it’s not practical to have law enforcement guarding every member of Congress and candidate”.
Agent Streen is absolutely correct, and in the two round table discussions @ISA has conducted that were attended by police academy directors, law enforcement and private sector detail leaders, and current and former elected officials, we discussed the use of private security VS. law enforcement in providing close protection.
In both round table discussions training and licensing was the first issue identified. And Agent Steen seems to echo that point what he is quoted as saying “If a model for private security is developing for that gap,(between LE and the private sector) then a lot of work will need to be done to set parameters and scope for those private security folks”.
Now that some elected officials seem ready to accept the threat is real, the private sector needs to step up and that means specific training in the protection of elected officials, and a federal agency may need to consider establishing a national credential or license for close protection agents serving elected officials.
ISA provides the accredited and recognized #executiveprotectiontraining, and we have traditionally focused our services on providing protection to various government officials since 2011. And we have supported state credentials as well as a national set of standards for EP operations and training.
#executiveprotectiontraining, #protectionofelectedofficials, #isa, @ISA
We believe we were right in 2011 and think we are correct now, so let’s meet back here in 2022 and see what has changed.
About the author:
Matthew Parker is a retired U.S. Army Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and combat veteran with more than 20 years of distinguished military service, Mr. Parker has served in a variety of leadership & protective service assignments and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Independent Security Advisors LLC, a certified disabled veteran-owned company where he also serves as the Director of Training for the ISA Training Division, overseeing their programs relating to dignitary & executive protection and terrorism.
Mr. Parker has interned and worked as a volunteer for elected officials and candidates for office and has over 16 years of executive and dignitary protection experience where he has been directly responsible for the close protection of international diplomats & trade delegations, corporate executives, candidates for public office, and various celebrities.
With his extensive experience as a special advisor and consultant to domestic and international elected officials, Mr. Parker provides program management and executive leadership services for executive protection organizations, government, and non-government organizations on areas of concentration that include supporting democracy through the protection of elected officials and world leaders, anti-terrorism and combating extremism.
Mr. Parker also oversees the Domestic Violence Action Network, a non-profit effort to stop domestic violence in partnership with law enforcement and private security providers nationally.
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