Guest Opinions

Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for Gov. Inslee’s presidential campaign security

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee gets into his vehicle near a member of his security detail after speaking at the University of Washington in Seattle earlier this month .
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee gets into his vehicle near a member of his security detail after speaking at the University of Washington in Seattle earlier this month . AP

Given the state of Washington is expected to spend north of $50 billion — yes, with B — over the next two years to run state government, the proposed $4 million increase for Gov. Jay Inslee’s security detail might look, well, insignificant. It is not.

The huge increase in spending for the governor’s security is because Inslee is running for president. As a matter of principle, state taxpayers should not be footing the bill for the Washington State Patrol doubling the size of its security detail.

And we would be saying this if Albert Rosellini, Dan Evans, Dixy Lee Ray, John Spellman, Booth Gardner, Mike Lowry, Gary Locke or Chris Gregoire were governor.

Inslee’s ambition to be president of the United States is fine, but the added cost to state government should be paid by him and/or his political supporters.

But that’s not the way the law works. The State Patrol has a duty to protect Inslee whether he is at the governor’s mansion eating a ham sandwich or in Iowa eating ribs at a campaign rally.

“We have a responsibility to keep the governor and his family safe. We’re going to do it with fidelity and success. That’s the bottom line,” said Chris Loftis, a State Patrol spokesman. Loftis said Inslee did not ask for more security. It was a decision State Patrol officials made after consulting with other states that have had governors run for the presidency.

Anticipating a frenetic out-of-state schedule as Inslee jets around the country in pursuit of the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, the Patrol plans to assign six additional troopers, a sergeant and a lieutenant to the Executive Protection Unit, according to The Seattle Times.

Boosting spending for Inslee’s security detail is not new. Last year, the State Patrol needed an extra $400,000 as Inslee spent a lot of time out of the state as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

We took exception to the taxpayers having to cover the added expenses.

At that time, Inslee’s spokeswoman Jaime Smith said there might be a chance that eventually, Inslee will turn to people or organizations other than Washington’s taxpayers to pay for what look like campaign trips.

“I would imagine that in a scenario where we might continue to have an elevated amount of travel, there might be some conversation around that,” she said last November.

It looks to us as if that time is fast approaching, if not here.

Republicans in the Legislature, as one would expect, have criticized the cost to taxpayers and have called for Inslee to reimburse the state. Democrats would be doing the same thing if a Republican governor were crisscrossing American on the campaign trail.

But this should not be about partisan politics. It’s about prudent and reasonable use of tax dollars.

Jetting off to New Hampshire and Iowa might be a good use of campaign dollars for Inslee, but is not a prudent use of state tax dollars.