MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Security costs for Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch last year were more than three times what it cost to protect Walker's Democratic predecessor in 2010, records released Friday to The Associated Press show.
Walker provided the security detail costs in response to an open records request. They came a day after his political committee, Our American Revival, said it would pick up the tab for Walker's security detail when it travels with him to purely political events, such as a gathering of likely Republican presidential candidates this weekend in Iowa.
Walker has been traveling the country — and the world — in advance of an all-but-certain 2016 presidential bid. That has generated criticism from Wisconsin Democrats about the cost to taxpayers for members of the state patrol to provide security.
The numbers released Friday show that in 2014, when Walker was traveling throughout Wisconsin while running for re-election, security costs for him, first lady Tonette Walker and Kleefisch totaled $2.3 million. That was up 47 percent from Walker's first year in office, when costs were nearly $1.6 million.
The 2011 costs were more than double what it took to protect Walker's predecessor, Jim Doyle, in 2010, before the lieutenant governor also had protection. That year, taxpayers spent $657,000 on security for Doyle.
Security costs for Walker were more than quadrupled since 2009.
"He's buying an entourage and the taxpayers are paying for it," said Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, of Middleton.
Walker administration spokesman Cullen Werwie had no comment on the increase in security costs.
The numbers indicate the security detail has grown under Walker. In 2010, salary costs for security were $346,000. Last year, they were nearly $1.2 million.
Walker faced death threats in 2011 when he proposed effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers. He bolstered security as up to 100,000 people protested at the Capitol.
Extra security was justifiable then, Erpenbach said, but not now.
"It's a huge waste of taxpayer money," he said.
As an indicator of how much Walker is traveling outside of the state, expenses related to out-of-state lodging and other costs for his security detail were $89,400 in 2014, more than double the $36,100 spent in Doyle's last year in office.
Werwie, in an email accompanying the figures, noted the security detail also is called to protect visiting dignitaries and coordinate special events, such as like the National Governors Association meeting in Milwaukee last year.
Per state law, Walker reimburses the state for the use of state vehicles for campaign purposes. His campaign has reimbursed the state nearly $97,000 since taking office, Werwie said.
Our American Revival, Walker's tax-exempt political committee, said Thursday it would reimburse taxpayers for expenses related to his security detail for political trips. But that committee was formed this year, so it won't be paying for any of the $2.3 million spent in 2014.
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