Aside from agreeing to pay a $24 million settlement in a 2000 race discrimination case in January, the United States Secret Service faces staggering money woes under Donald Trump’s administration. For starters, the president’s legally mandated protectors exited their Trump Tower post following a lease dispute with its namesake’s company. And to make matters worse, a USA Today report indicates the organization does not have enough money to pay hundreds of agents for their “expanded protective mission” in covering Trump, the administration and the president’s “large family.”
In an exclusive interview with USA Today, Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles explained “more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year.” Alles didn’t clarify whether he meant the calendar year or the fiscal year, though considering how the latter runs from October 1st, 2016 to September 30th, 2017 for the federal government, that still leaves over a month to go. With the sheer size and activity of Trump’s family, this problem won’t be lessening anytime soon since his administration bumped Obama’s number of protectees up from 31 to 42. 18 alone are Trump’s family members.
“The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” said Alles of the Secret Service’s being legally required to protect the president and those close to him. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.” Sure enough, aside from Trump’s frequent golfing excursions to his own properties around Washington D.C. and New Jersey, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump’s personal excursions and business trips necessitate security details because of their father’s position. At least Ivanka Trump and husband/senior advisor Jared Kushner are working for the government, but their vacations require protection too.
Alles is currently discussing options with Congress, including bumping the overtime cap from $160,000 per year to $187,000 at least for Trump’s first term. Yet even if this happens, around 130 agents won’t be compensated for the overtime they’ve already clocked since Trump took office. What’s more, it won’t stay the “exodus” witnessed by the organization as many veteran Secret Service agents have decided to leave the ranks during the Trump presidency. “I don’t see this changing in the near term,” a defeated Alles concluded.
UPDATE: In a separate statement, Alles seemingly reneged on his prior comments to USA Today by claiming the Secret Service “has the funding it needs to meet all current mission requirements for the remainder of the fiscal year.” Specifically, the agency director said they can afford to “compensate employees for overtime within statutory pay caps.” Read the full statements below.
(Via USA Today)