Dems Ask DHS Watchdog To Probe Cost Of Securing Trump Properties

Bill Clark/CQPHO

Several Democratic lawmakers have asked the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to look into whether the Secret Service’s spending to secure President Donald Trump’s properties exceeds the amount allowed by law.

Democrats sent a letter to the DHS watchdog last week, following reports that the Secret Service is struggling to cover the costs of keeping Trump and his large family safe at several of the President’s properties, including Trump Tower in New York, Mar-a-Lago in Florida, and the golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The director of the Secret Service told USA Today in August that he can’t pay hundreds of agents because they’ve already met salary and overtime caps.

Now, Democratic lawmakers are asking whether the Secret Service is violating federal law to secure Trump’s properties across the country. The Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976 states that presidents can only designate one property to be fully secured by the Secret Service, and that spending on security for additional properties cannot exceed $200,000, they wrote in the letter.

The Secret Service told lawmakers that Trump has designated Trump Tower as his main property, and that the service plans to spend $26 million securing it in 2017. Trump has also requested security at Mar-a-Lago and the Bedminster golf club, however, and he visits those properties more frequently than he does Trump Tower.

“There is reason to believe that President Trump and his family’s use of multiple non-governmental properties, such as Trump Tower in New York, the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., may interfere with the Secret Service’s ability to protect the First Family while remaining in compliance with the act,” Democrats wrote in their letter.

Several senators, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Gary Peters of Michigan, signed the letter, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD).