COLUMBUS (AP) — The cost of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s security detail has skyrocketed since the Republican governor began running for president last year.
Out-of-state travel spending from the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s non-highway enforcement fund has increased from just under $17,000 during Kasich’s first full year in office to more than $350,000 this fiscal year, according to records available through Ohio’s online checkbook.
Patrol spokesman Lt. Craig Cvetan said the figures may not be exactly comparable because certain budget funding codes have changed since 2011.
Cvetan noted that the fund can cover out-of-state travel unrelated to Kasich, and not all destinations and locations are discernible from the records.
However, the spending records show payments for airline tickets and for hotel rooms in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Las Vegas around the time of Kasich campaign stops.
Both the governor’s office and the campaign said they don’t comment on security-related issues.
“For the safety of the governor, his family and those with him, we simply never discuss security procedures or resources,” said spokesman Joe Andrews.
States typically provide around-the-clock protection to their governors, with the costs paid for by taxpayers. Extensive out-of-state travel related to a national campaign can raise the question of whether an official’s campaign committee should pick up those costs.
Details surrounding Kasich’s security traditionally have been closely guarded.
The administration successfully fought off an effort early in his tenure by the Democratic-leaning blog Plunderblund to obtain records on threats made against the governor. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the withholding of records even after the blog substantially narrowed its request.
The Department of Public Safety has rejected past requests for costs associated with protective services for the governor.
Details of out-of-state travel by Kasich’s security detail are only emerging now through the online checkbook, an effort championed by Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Mandel, a fellow Republican who happens to support Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president, hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with Kasich. But listing the travel spending doesn’t appear to be personal; the checkbook contains hundreds of millions of records dating back to 2008.
Ohio state Sen. Charleta Tavares, a Columbus Democrat, introduced a bill in July that would prohibit the use of state funds for security on out-of-state trips the governor makes that aren’t either on state-related business or for personal travel. She has not questioned that the governor needs to be protected, but wants to make it possible for an outside entity to cover those costs, rather than the taxpayers.
State budget documents show the Department of Public Safety’s security and investigations fund, which includes Kasich’s security detail, has seen a 49 percent increase since Kasich took office — from $6.4 million in fiscal year 2012 to $9.5 million this fiscal year. Cvetan said that fund also pays for responding to in-state emergencies and conducting major criminal investigations that involve state property interests.
By comparison, costs for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s protective services rose from just under $1.5 million in his first fiscal year in office to $3.1 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2015, as he pursued his aborted presidential bid, according to data provided to the AP earlier this year.
Estimates for out-of-state security costs for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a key Kasich rival and the only other sitting governor left in the presidential race, have exceeded $1 million.