Feb 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

How much members of Congress are spending on personal security

Congressional campaign security expenses in 2021
Data: OpenSecrets.org; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Members of Congress — including Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds on personal security after federal regulators blessed the practice last year, records show.

Why it matters: Tempers are flaring amid intense political polarization, and lawmakers are enduring huge numbers of threats as a result. The spending is just the latest index for the concern.

  • A common denominator for most of the top spenders is a high national profile and controversial legislative record, according to campaign finance data provided by OpenSecrets.

By the numbers: Warnock led all members of Congress by a wide margin, with more than $600,000 in security expenses last year.

  • His fellow Georgia Democrat, Sen. Jon Ossoff, is also near the top of the list. The special elections putting them in Congress last year resulted in the current 50-50 Senate.
  • Cruz comes in at No. 2. He drew intense criticism after teaming up with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who also makes the top 20, to try to block the certification of President Biden's 2020 election win.
  • Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump over the Jan. 6 Capitol attack — and drew Trump's fury as a result — also spent heavily on personal security. They include Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. John Katko of New York.

The backstory: The Federal Election Commission ruled in March 2021 that members of Congress could use campaign funds to pay for bona fide personal security services.

  • The decision came after the Capitol siege and as lawmakers of both parties dealt with persistent violent threats.
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