Raimondo’s $40K a Month Security Costs Draws Mixed Reaction

Friday, August 04, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team

Governor Gina Raimondo
A three-month long investigation by GoLocalProv.com into the increased security and costs for the protection of Governor Gina Raimondo by the Rhode Island State Police unveiled that the price tag has nearly tripled versus the costs incurred by previous governors — and political experts and officials had a range of reactions to the news.

The research by GoLocal found that the taxpayer cost of providing security for Raimondo has totaled over $1,269,431 since her taking office -- from January 1, 2015, through June 24, 2017.  

Some Very Critical of the Costs

Rhode Island’s former top cop and the first and only woman elected Attorney General in the state questioned the approach.

“One takes a job in public service realizing that your decisions can make people unhappy and may carry some risk but that is the nature of the job," said former Attorney General Arlene Violet. "Not that I'm recommending it but it would have been cheaper to install a security system with a direct call into the police station [than having a RI State Trooper stationed in a vehicle every evening being paid overtime]."

RI 1st and only Attorney General Arlene Violet
“When I was AG, there was a credible threat to me, Lincoln Almond, then-United States Attorney, and Robert Stutman, the then-head of DEA from the Columbian drug cartel because we were swooping off their drug shipments into RI. That was for a temporary period of several months. I had to be in Louisiana for several days but I didn't travel with security," said Violet. "My office made arrangements through my colleague in La. to have the local police department to keep an eye on me as a courtesy. No costs to the state.Too bad a similar arrangement isn't made if there was a credible threat to the governor."

Former Governor Lincoln Chafee, a strong-critic of Raimondo’s policies who bristled at having to have State Police coverage, tells GoLocal that the Raimondo coverage is costly.

“It is no wonder that Rhode Island has a $130 million dollar deficit in our last fiscal year with this cavalier attitude toward spending from the chief executive," said Chafee. 

Former Governor Lincoln Chafee
As GoLocal reported on Thursday, what is different about Raimondo’s security coverage is that full-time, 24/7 detail has required a significant increase in the amount of work force deployment.

Not only are officers covering during the daytime, but most days two troopers are required to cover 12 hours. The cost per hour for Raimondo’s overnight coverage can be as much as $90 per hour and more than $1,100 in additional daily costs.

More than three dozen individual troopers have been assigned to evening overnight detail at Raimondo’s home, bringing the total number of Troopers who have been assigned to nearly 50.

Patricia Morgan, House Minority Leader
House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, who is considering a potential run for Governor in 2018, was critical of the expenditure. “There appears to be little justification to increase the security detail to 3 1/2 times that of previous governors,” said Morgan.

“Of course if there's a credible and identifiable threat, the governor should get the security coverage that Colonel Assumpico thinks is necessary for her protection. But robust, around the clock security, seems gratuitous. A good security system with cameras is probably all that is necessary, and has the benefit of being more cost efficient,” added Morgan.

Others Defend the New Policy

Roger Williams University Political Science Professor, a former Democratic Town Council President in Barrington, cautions against second guessing safety concerns.

“Since the shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords in 2011 and the very recent shooting of Representative Steve Scalise, combined with the hostile tone of some debate in the public square, many elected officials feel a greater sense of threat," said Speakman. "And governors are the most visible and important members of their fifty states; virtually all of them have security details because of their role and visibility.   This is neither unusual or inappropriate.”

Bill Deware
Progressive leader Bill Deware linked the importance of the coverage to Raimondo's gender and flagged the need for protection. It should be noted that Raimondo's 24/7 coverage started right after she was elected - and two years prior to Trump's election.

"She is the first female Governor of RI and not well liked on the right. Under Donald Trump, many have felt emboldened to lash out and make threats. Given those two variables at play and not knowing specifically what's going on, this doesn't strike me all that extraordinary," said Deware State Coordinator Rhode Island Progressive Democrats of America.

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