Security costs for protection of Gov. Scott Walker and Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch have doubled in comparison to the price marks on security when the pair took office in January, which some experts are attributing to the turbulent political climate in Wisconsin and the consequent increase in death threats.
According to documents originally obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel under Wisconsin’s open records law, security costs for Walker, Kleefisch and their families from November 2011 to August 2011 reached $611,000.
Security costs for former Gov. Jim Doyle from November 2009 to August 2011 were approximately $259,000, less than half of the cost to protect Walker and Kleefisch.
Captain David Erwin of State Patrol Dignitary Protection said in an email to The Badger Herald that current threats targeting Walker, his family and Kleefisch are not comparable to past administrations.
“Because of the increased threat level, for the first time we need to provide security at this level for the lieutenant governor and the governor’s family,” Erwin said in the email.
Erwin is responsible for making security-related decisions for Walker, Kleefisch and their families.
According to the Department of Administration Bureau of Enterprise, the 2005 Buick used to drive Walker and his family racked up 4,577 miles from January to Aug. 31, 2011. During that same time, a 2010 Suburban used to transport Walker drove 39,203 miles.
The same Buick drove 1,669 miles from January to Aug. 31, 2010 for Doyle, and the Suburban drove 14,333 miles during that time.
According to the Bureau of Enterprise, hours docked by state patrol vehicles from November 2010 to August 2011 totaled 15,391.58, up from 6,280.5 hours from January 2009 to August 2010.
Charles Franklin, University of Wisconsin political science professor, said the expansion of security measures is probably not wholly related to Walker’s increased death threats.The governor has received countless threats aimed at both himself and his family since introducing his budget repair legislation to curtail public employees’ collective bargaining rights at the beginning of his term.
The need for increased protection, Franklin said, most likely also stems from the presence of demonstrators and an increase in the frequency of events at the Capitol.
“It’s not surprising to me that there’s an increase in security costs given the controversy that’s surrounding the governor,” Franklin said. “It would seem like simple prudence would incite officials to provide good protection for him. Whether it’s driven entirely by the events of the spring or something else, I don’t know.”