The Education Department will pay the U.S. Marshal’s Service up to $6.54 million to guard Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for the next 12 months, providing “the amount of security around her [that] matches the threats around her,” her spokeswoman said.
DeVos is the only cabinet member to receive protection from the U.S. Marshal’s Service, law enforcement officers who are generally responsible for protecting federal judges, transporting prisoners, apprehending fugitives and protecting witnesses.
She has faced scrutiny over security expenses, originally slated to be nearly $8 million over the last eight months, according to an agreement that expired at the end of September. Under it, the marshals provided DeVos with round-the-clock protection, a limousine and regular threat assessments.
Instead, it cost $5.28 million, in part because the secretary foots the bill for marshals who travel with her on her personally owned aircraft, Education Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill said,. The secretary, who is married to an heir of the Amway fortune, uses her own airplane for official travel and does not seek reimbursement from the government.
Marshals began guarding the secretary after she encountered protesters at Jefferson Middle School Academy in Washington, D.C., in February, some of whom attempted to block her from the building and forced security to escort her in to a waiting vehicle.
The new $6.54 million agreement between the Education Department and the U.S. Marshal’s Service, which began Oct. 1, was first reported by Politico.
Hill said the marshals conduct regular assessments and provide security reflecting the threats DeVos faces. The secretary’s policies and advocacy for school choice have been deeply polarizing, and her appearances regularly draw protests. At a recent event at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, students pointed at DeVos as she exited and shouted, “What does white supremacy look like? That’s what white supremacy looks like!”
Citing operational security concerns, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshal’s Service declined to provide details of the agreement, such as the extent of protection and number of vehicles marshals will use.
“The number of USMS personnel assigned to the detail is commensurate with the existing threat and based on USMS protective service requirements, experience and methodology,” the statement from the U.S. Marshals Service said.