Gov. Ron DeSantis' security costs increased in the past fiscal year
TALLAHASSEE -- As Gov. Ron DeSantis geared up his presidential campaign, taxpayer costs to transport and protect the governor and his family surged during the past fiscal year, according to a new state report.
Florida spent more than $9.876 million during the 2022-2023 fiscal year on protecting and transporting the DeSantis family and visiting officials, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual “Report of Transportation and Protective Services.”
That was up from $6.097 million during the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which itself was a 25 percent increase from the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
About $9.4 million of the costs in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which ended June 30, went to guarding and transporting DeSantis and his family and protecting the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee. That total also doesn’t include regular pay for Capitol police officers.
The biggest cost increases involved the governor, with $5 million going toward salaries of law-enforcement officers who provided security for him and $3.04 million for costs tied to transportation.
DeSantis formally announced his presidential bid May 24, but he spent chunks of the year traveling the country, including to promote his book “The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival.”
During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, $2.375 million went toward law-enforcement pay for guarding DeSantis and $2.391 million was tied to transportation.
Costs for protecting First Lady Casey DeSantis and other members of the family during the 2022-2023 fiscal year came to $792,764, including $78,382 tied to transportation. Those costs totaled $777,000 the previous year.
The governor and first lady have three young children.
During the 2022-2023 fiscal year, another $552,491 went into general security around the governor’s mansion. The total was up from $399,098 in the prior fiscal year.
The annual report is the first since the Republican-controlled Legislature this year passed a bill (SB 1616) that shields past and future travel records of the governor and other state leaders. People covered by the law include the governor’s immediate family, the lieutenant governor, Cabinet members, the House speaker, the Senate president and the chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court.
The measure also allows keeping from the public the names of people visiting the governor’s mansion on non-governmental matters.
But the seven-page annual report released Tuesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement provided overall costs for the DeSantis family and listed security-related costs for visiting dignitaries.
As in past years, the report doesn’t outline how security details were staffed or how they operated.
Costs included 97 separate protective details for people outside the first family during the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Those protective details cost $457,242, up from 74 details in the previous fiscal year that totaled $154,095.
Among the biggest costs for visiting dignitaries was a $117,053 price tag related to DeSantis’ inauguration in January. Also, the state faced security costs for people attending a Republican Governors Association conference in November in Orlando.
Outside the inauguration and the Republican Governors Association event, money went to providing security for 70 visits to Florida by governors from 34 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Also, the FDLE indicated $964 was spent on security when DeSantis met in Tallahassee with Paraguay’s then-President Mario Abdo Benitez on Jan. 27.
A March 7 meeting in Tallahassee between DeSantis and Hungry President Katalin Novak drew a $275 cost for the FDLE.
The report noted $11,891 was provided in security and transportation for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist on the Nov. 8 election day.
Another $7,874 was spent in January when Vice President Kamala Harris visited Tallahassee to speak on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion decision.