NBC Video: Sen. Kane Raises Questions About Gov. Malloy’s Pricey Security and Travel Tabs

February 7, 2013

Article as it appeared on NBCConnecticut.com

Governor’s Personal Security Earns $1.1 Million in Overtime, Trip to China Over Budget

He’s known as the traveling governor, taking dozens of trips around the country and across the world. Governor Dannel Malloy has traveled out of state nearly every month since he’s been in office, from the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Just this past fall, he embarked upon a highly-touted trip to China—and in between, Malloy has been everywhere from D.C to LA, Texas, and Virginia.

Just about everywhere the Governor goes, so too do the officers assigned to protect him. They are Governor Malloy’s personal body guards—a security detail made up more than 12 State Troopers. They are charged with keeping the Governor out of harm’s way. It’s an honorable job, and a lucrative one.

Base salaries for these officers range from about $53,000 on the low end to $113,000 for the top earner. But the real money is in the overtime. In 2011, the top overtime earner on Malloy’s security detail brought in a cool $75,000 in overtime—almost doubling his salary. The next highest earner made over $73,000 in overtime that year, equivalent to almost 90% of his base salary—again, all in overtime. In 2012, both officers accrued close to $130,000 in overtime. It’s a number that’s shocking some in the State House.

“Meaning we have a projected $2 billion deficit in the next biennium, yet we can spend a million dollars in the Governor’s security just in overtime alone. So I think we have to be more efficient in state government in all aspects, not just in the ones we like and the ones we choose,” said State Senator Rob Kane, the ranking Republican on the State Senate Appropriations Committee.

Records show Malloy’s officers have earned more each year in overtime than did security details assigned to protect both the previous governor and lieutenant governor combined. The State Police only keep records dating back seven years.

“There’s no question when you look at the numbers it’s quite startling it’s that high,” said political analyst Patrick Scully.

It’s not just the overtime that’s raising eyebrows. Governor Malloy’s security detail is also racking up travel expenses. Malloy has taken at least 27 trips out of the state and four out of the country. To be fair, the Governor’s Office points out that not all of his travel is covered by taxpayers. But the state is footing the bill for the troopers who go with him. And as it turns out, no one is keeping track of the total costs.

The Governor’s Office predicted his September trip to China would cost less than $20,000. But after a 4-month-long investigation by the Troubleshooters, we uncovered total travel expenses to China for the Governor’s security detail added up to over $19,000. That doesn’t include costs for the Governor, his aide, or the other state official that accompanied him. The Troubleshooters did the math, and even with the UConn Foundation paying for Malloy’s airfare, we estimate the state spent at least $30,000 on the trip. Why so over-budget? Governor Malloy’s communications director Andrew Doba said the State Police handles troopers’ travel costs, separate from the Governor’s.

“The initial projections were about the Governor’s expenses, and that came in under budget.,” said Doba, “We leave the Governor’s security to the State Police and they make the decisions about what’s appropriate.”

“I think there are ways to limit cost but I think you need to be mindful of the fact that there are security concerns and you have to listen to the experts on that,” he added.

Still, political analyst Patrick Scully said it’s troubling that in a time of fiscal crisis, the Governor’s Office by their own admission doesn’t plan for travel expenses incurred by his security.

“I think they’re passing the buck on that. I think the Governor can do whatever he wants when it comes to his security detail,” said Scully, “He should have a better handle on what’s going on and if he wants to adjust the security detail he can certainly do so.”

Malloy’s staff contends his trips are to promote long-term economic growth in the state, and show he is an active and involved Governor.

“Two-thirds of the trips he’s taken as Governor have been to Washington D.C. where because of the absence of senior Senators like Dodd and Lieberman, he feels he brings a valuable voice to the conversation in Washington in terms of getting federal money back to Connecticut. Other trips concentrate more on economic development and bringing jobs to the state,” said Doba.

“We need to be transparent to the taxpayers of Connecticut and let them know each and every line item that we spend money on. Especially when we’re talking about the Governor’s own personal detail,” contended Kane.

And while Malloy’s staff said the travel is beneficial for Connecticut’s economy, some believe there might be more personal gains as well.

“How much of his travel contributes towards putting Connecticut on the national agenda, and how much of it contributes towards putting Governor Malloy himself on the national agenda?” asked our Troubleshooter Sabina Kuriakose

“There are aspects of the travel that are helpful to the state. There are aspects to the travel that are helpful to the Governor’s aspirations. But I think you really have to take a hard look at these travel expenses certainly in this economic climate. He has to have a better handle on what’s going on there,” replied Scully.

“What’s the payoff for taxpayers with regards to how much the Governor travels?” asked Sabina.

“It’s hard to say whether we’re going to get results for all this travel. Because there is no tangible evidence yet whether it’s working for the cost. The cost is very high,” answered Scully.

Still, he said Malloy’s travel is comparable to other Governors, like Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. He, too, travels extensively around the nation and across the world, sparking talk of aims for national office.

The Troubleshooters were able to track the salaries and overtime for the Governor’s security team after piecing together state records. We don’t know just how much taxpayers have spent on total travel for Malloy’s security. After months of asking for those numbers, officials still won’t tell us.