DeVos’ security detail cost taxpayers $24M over 4 years

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ security detail has cost taxpayers more than $24 million over the past four years and is projected to cost another $3 million through mid-February, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service told POLITICO on Tuesday.

That level of security detail is highly unusual. The past four education secretaries have been protected by the Education Department’s own small security force.

“No other cabinet secretaries during the Trump administration has or had this agreement with the USMS,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Key context: Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions initially ordered DeVos’ security detail, shortly after the secretary encountered protesters while visiting a D.C. school.

The Marshals Service said the final cost of protecting DeVos in fiscal 2020, which ended Sept. 30, was more than $6.2 million. That is less than the service’s projection last year of more than $7.8 million because of reduced travel, the spokesperson said.

Final costs for the previous three years totaled more than $6.2 million in fiscal 2019, $6.8 million in fiscal 2018 and nearly $5.3 million in fiscal 2017, from February through September of that year. All told, the cost adds up to almost $24.6 million.

The new interagency agreement, projecting $3 million through Feb. 14, reflects the original terms of a memorandum of understanding that is valid for up to four years, beginning Feb. 13, 2017, the spokesperson said.

Criticism of the cost: Last year, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan criticized DeVos for the cost of her security detail. “That money could sure buy a lot of books for kids…” Duncan said on Twitter.

An aide to DeVos said in response then that the secretary was “being threatened,” and that Duncan was blaming the victim.

DeVos aides did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest total.

Caitlin Emma contributed to this story.

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