Florida spent about $5 million protecting Gov. DeSantis, his family

Taxpayer money also helped protect visiting dignitaries

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis hold a roundtable discussion regarding mental health and COVID-19 at the Tampa Bay Crisis Center on Thursday, July 16, 2020 in Tampa. (Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via AP) (Martha Asencio-Rhine, Tampa Bay Times)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida taxpayers spent nearly $4.85 million during the past fiscal year to protect Gov. Ron DeSantis, his family, the governor’s mansion and various visiting dignitaries, according to a state report released Monday.

The bulk of the costs during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, nearly $4.82 million, went to guarding DeSantis and members of the first family, along with securing the governor’s mansion, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual “Report of Transportation and Protective Services.”

During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the cost to protect DeSantis, the first family and the governor’s mansion was a similar $4.78 million.

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While offering a glimpse of protection, the report doesn’t outline how the security details were staffed or how they operated for the governor or visiting dignitaries.

The costs were topped by nearly $3.82 million spent on DeSantis, with more than $1.83 million going for the salaries of law enforcement officers who provided security for the governor and $1.984 for costs tied to transportation.

Costs for protecting First Lady Casey DeSantis and members of the first family topped $463,000, with $455,665 going to law enforcement salaries and $7,823 tied to the first lady’s transportation. The governor and first lady have three young children.

An additional $512,247 was spent on salaries and about $24,821 went toward other expenses related to protecting the governor’s mansion and grounds.

The report also listed 17 expenses, totaling about $32,790, to provide protective details for visiting dignitaries. The report said state law requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to provide security to people visiting the state for whom “failure to provide security or transportation could result in a clear and present danger to the personal safety of such persons or could result in public embarrassment to the state.”

The biggest expense, $6,283 for security and transportation, went to protecting then-Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and his family while they were on “personal” business in Orlando from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21.

Similar coverage, for personal or official business, was provided to the governors of Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The state spent $1,289 on security when then-U.S. Second Lady Karen Pence was in Jacksonville with former Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to launch an employment assistance program for military spouses at the end of September 2020.

Another $1,607 was spent when presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump, the wife of Eric Trump, was in Jacksonville with former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the then-President Donald Trump’s campaign, on Sept. 16.

About the Author:

Jim is a Capitol reporter for the News Service of Florida, providing coverage on issues ranging from transportation and the environment to Legislative and Cabinet politics.