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Members of Congress Are Spending More Than Ever on Security

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29.06.2021

Mother Jones illustration; Getty

Many Republicans are now trying to rewrite the history of January 6 to portray the assault on the Capitol that left five dead as a benign protest. But lawmakers’ fears of extremist violence are reflected clearly in recent campaign filings that show a dramatic surge in spending on security. Among those dishing out the most for protective measures: House and Senate Republicans who have dared to criticize Donald Trump for imperiling our democracy with phony election fraud claims and for inciting his supporters into a bloody rebellion.

Increasingly, Republican and Democratic lawmakers in both chambers—especially those vilified by Trump and his allies—have started hiring security consultants and bodyguards, upgrading their home security systems with cameras, and, in some cases, employing firms that specialize in fortifying residences with reinforced doors, bulletproof glass, and other high-end protective features. An analysis of campaign finance records by Mother Jones found that in the three months after the Capitol attack, security spending jumped 176 percent from the same period last year. Such spending is up 233 percent from the first quarter of 2019.

Prior to the January 6 attack, three-term Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) had never spent campaign funds on security. But in the first three months of this year—as she publicly denounced Trump’s role in fueling the insurrection, a transgression for which she was deposed from her leadership post—she paid $58,000 for protective measures, hiring a security consulting firm that specializes in executive protection and retaining three former Secret Service agents who previously served on her father’s vice presidential detail.

While Cheney has continued to speak out against Trump, she said recently that many of her GOP colleagues are too fearful for their safety to risk riling up Trump’s conspiracy-crazed supporters by going against the former president.

“I have had a number of members say to me, we would have voted to impeach, but we were concerned about our security,” she told David Axelrod on an episode of his podcast. “I think that in some ways people have sort of glossed over that, but I think that’s a very important point to pause and contemplate, that you have members of the United States House of Representatives for whom, you know, security—their personal security or their family security, their concerns about that affected the way that they felt they could vote. That’s a really significant thing to say about the current state of our politics.”

Like Cheney, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) rebuked Trump for his election fraud lies. After the insurrection, he called on Trump to resign and was one of seven Senate Republicans to vote for Trump’s impeachment in February. The cost of opposing Trump’s bid to overturn the election has been steep: During the first quarter of 2021, his campaign racked up a whopping security tab of nearly $70,000. His campaign’s first payment came on February 8, the day before Trump’s Senate impeachment trial commenced. Among other expenditures, Toomey paid $39,000 to T&M USA, a New York City–based private security and intelligence firm. His campaign filings also list a $7,300 payment to Fortified Estate, a Texas outfit that bills itself as the “leading company for bespoke, high-security hardening of residential and commercial structures” and specializes in installing panic rooms, bulletproof doors, and blast windows.

The campaign operation of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted to convict Trump during his first and second impeachment trials, paid more than $43,000 to Ambolt Security Group, a........

© Mother Jones


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