Md. House GOP seeks reimbursement of O’Malley out-of-state security costs
By John Wagner,
Maryland House Republicans on Tuesday called on Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to reimburse the state for the cost of his security detail while traveling on political trips, saying it “does not send the right message” for taxpayers to pick up the tab.
The demand from the minority party came in response to media reports this month that the Maryland State Police spent nearly $100,000 on out-of-state travel to provide executive protection services for O’Malley during the first nine months of the year.
The tally, provided by the state police, included state business as well as political trips, several of which O’Malley took in his capacity as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, a position from which he stepped down this month.
“We believe it is incumbent upon you to reimburse the State of Maryland, and by extension the taxpayers, for any costs associated with your travel to political events,” said a letter signed by House Republican leaders. “Whether it be the DGA or your personal campaign funds, either is a more appropriate source than the well-worn pockets of Maryland taxpayers.”
O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said O’Malley was complying with a long-standing policy of the police that recognizes “the governor is the governor, no matter where he is or what he’s doing.”
O’Malley’s office also released a tally of similar security expenses incurred by former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and former lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele (R).
The tally showed nearly $138,000 in out-of-state security expenses for Ehrlich during the four years he was in office, and more than $154,000 for Steele during the same stretch. It was unclear how much of those costs were incurred due to political travel.
“Did this group make the same request of the former governor and lieutenant governor?” Guillory asked.
Maryland State Police say their policies have not changed since O’Malley took office.
Virginia handles the situation differently, according to Tucker Martin, spokesman for Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), who just finished a stint as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Martin said the cost of executive protection is typically reimbursed by “the responsible political organization,” whether the RGA, the governor’s political action committee or another entity.
“Upon taking office, this administration proactively decided to implement a reimbursement process to ensure that taxpayers, to the greatest extent possible, would not pay for political travel,” Martin said.