Congressional spending on private security skyrocketed following the incursion into the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to recent campaign finance disclosures.
Over one-third of the 17 Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach or convict former President Donald Trump used campaign funds to invest in security measures, collectively spending roughly $200,000 in the first three months of the year, Politico reported, citing a Punchbowl News report on Federal Election Commission filings.
Records showed that Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s campaign office spent $22,000 on personal security 16 days after the Republican’s vote.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia reportedly spent $130,000 and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelley of Arizona spent $115,000.
“This is a very dangerous moment,” Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who has paid for her personal security for years, told Politico.
“We’ve got to be able to do our job, and not feel intimidated or harassed. A lot of members who didn’t think about it before Jan. 6 are thinking about it.”
Acting Capitol Chief of Police Yoganda Pittman said that there has been a 93 percent increase in death threats received by members of Congress in the first few months of 2021 compared to the same time period in 2020, according to WFLD-TV.
Republican Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan said that personal safety fears most likely influenced how lawmakers voted during the certification of Arizona and Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes.
“They knew in their heart of hearts that they should’ve voted to certify, but some had legitimate concerns about the safety of their families,” the congressman told Reason.
“They felt that that vote would put their families in danger.”
Lawmakers are limited to spending their official budgets on certain things, like bulletproof vests and security personnel for town halls, but under current rules, they can’t spend their official budgets on installing security systems at home or keeping a personal bodyguard for any unofficial travel.
The recent rise in threats to lawmakers has led some people to push for expanding the official budget rules to include a wider range of security purposes so lawmakers don’t have to rely on their campaign donations.
“It’s just crazy that we’re even having this conversation, but it’s the reality of what we’re living in,” Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio said.
One suggestion provided by an independent review of Capitol security was to give a “member allowance” that could be used for personal security on a “threat-based” level.
“I don’t care how they do it, as long as they do it,” Republican Rep. John Katko of New York said. “You’ve got to keep people safe. That’s the bottom line.”
Following the incursion into the Capitol building, Capitol Police protected lawmakers when they traveled, but many felt it wasn’t enough.
Each congressional office was given an additional $65,000 for security this year.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.