Secret Service Director Overwhelmed by Trump Travel
This week, in a piece exclusive to USA Today, the head of the United States Secret Service, Randolph “Tex” Alles, expressed frustrations with an inability to adequately compensate his agents, controversially citing as a contributing factor the travel schedule of President Donald Trump and his family.
"The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law. I can't change that. I have no flexibility,” Alles said.
According to the piece, “Alles said the service is grappling with an unprecedented number of White House protectees. Under Trump, 42 people have protection, a number that includes 18 members of his family. That's up from 31 during the Obama administration.”
In addition to increase in the number of protectees, the pace of travel has also been unprecedented, with USA Today pointing to seven trips to Mar-a-Lago, Florida, five trips to Bedminster, New Jersey, and one visit (and additional family visits) to Trump Tower in Manhattan. All told, the Secret Service “has spent some $60,000 on golf cart rentals alone this year.”
The financial image gets increasingly stark when the president’s family’s travel – much of it on business in support of various Trump-related brands and properties – is factored in. USA Today writes:
Eric Trump's business travel to Uruguay cost the Secret Service nearly $100,000 just for hotel rooms. Other trips included the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic. In February, both sons and their security details traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, for the opening of new Trump hotel there, and to Dubai to officially open a Trump International Golf Club.
In March, security details accompanied part of the family, including Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner on a skiing vacation in Aspen, Colo. Even Tiffany Trump, the president's younger daughter, took vacations with her boyfriend to international locales such as Germany and Hungary, which also require Secret Service protection.
Alles told the paper, "We have them working all night long; we're sending them on the road all of the time. There are no quick fixes, but over the long term, I've got to give them a better balance (of work and private life) here."
The situation also threatens to get worse before it gets better, with USA Today pointing out that “without some legislative relief…at least 1,100 agents…would not be eligible for overtime even as one of the agency's largest protective assignments looms next month. Nearly 150 foreign heads of state are expected to converge on New York City for the United Nations General Assembly.” The number of agents impacted represents one-third of the Secret Service’s force, a number the agency has struggled to increase to adequate levels in recent years, due to funding issues, attrition, and other an increased workload prompted by an unusually contentious election cycle and presidential transition.
In a statement responding to the story, Nathan R. Catura, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents over 26,000 federal law enforcement officers, including members of the Secret Service, said “These Secret Service agents are getting the shaft. They’re professionals and they’re going to do the job, but that's why they’re leaving. They’re just overworked and they just can’t deal with it anymore.”
After the story gained national attention, Director Alles issued a public statement backtracking slightly, noting that the agency would continue its “rigorous hiring of special agents, Uniformed Division officers and critical support staff to meet future mission requirements” and stating that “the Secret Service has the funding it needs to meet all current mission requirements for the remainder of the fiscal year and compensate employees for overtime within statutory pay caps.”
Image: By Pfc. Gabriel Silva - United States Government, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57852534
Posted in General News