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Betsy DeVos' squad of 24/7 armed guards could cost taxpayers almost $20 million, report says

DeVos was granted a 24/7 security detail by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions days after she was confirmed to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet in February 2017.

by Emma Ockerman
Nov 16 2018, 4:06pm

Betsy DeVos, the U.S. education secretary who has sometimes had to deal with teacher-led protests, could cost taxpayers nearly $20 million if she maintains her armed security detail, NBC News reports.

DeVos was granted a 24/7 security detail by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions days after she was confirmed to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet in February 2017, according to NBC News. No other Cabinet secretary has a similar armed, U.S. Marshal detail on hand, according to the Washington Post.

In total, DeVos’ security provisions could cost taxpayers $19.8 million through September of 2019. The security detail cost $5.3 million in fiscal year 2017 and $6.8 million for fiscal year 2018, which was considered a “high-water mark” the administration didn’t plan to exceed, according to Politico. The estimated cost for her security detail in fiscal year 2019 is $7.74 million, according to NBC.

For comparison, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — now notorious for his own spending scandals — spent $3.5 million on security before he resigned in July. According to NBC, DeVos’ two immediate predecessors under the Obama administration — Arne Duncan and John King Jr. — received security agents that escorted them door to door.

“The level of protection the Secretary receives is determined by law enforcement professionals and is commensurate with the threat level," Department of Education spokeswoman Liz Hill said in a statement.

It’s still unclear who requested the security protocol, and Hill told NBC that DeVos didn’t personally request the protection. Without disclosing the nature of the threats against DeVos, Hill said “it should be obvious that they are significant. Otherwise, the trained professionals who made the call to escalate her detail wouldn’t have done so.”

The call for help from the U.S. Marshals Service came a few days after teachers and parents protesting DeVos’ support of charter schools and voucher programs met her at a Washington, D.C., middle school. The protest, which was at a public school, was over DeVos’ support for school voucher programs and charter schools. But DeVos hasn’t been visiting public schools much since she got the detail, according to NBC News and the group American Oversight.

Separately, DeVos’ agency released a list of rules Friday which allows those accused sexual assault on college campuses more rights while limiting the kind of assaults that universities must investigate, according to the Washington Post.

Cover image: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visits a classroom at the Edward Hynes Charter School in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)