Lawmakers In Louisiana House Take Aim At Jindal Travel Costs
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Tired of Gov. Bobby Jindal's extensive out-of-state travel, lawmakers in the Louisiana House want the governor's office to carry the burden of those security detail costs, rather than the state police.
The House voted 55-35 Thursday for a change to next year's budget that would transfer $2.5 million from Jindal's office to the state police to cover the price tag of state troopers traveling with the Republican governor. Jindal would have to make cuts within his own office to pay for the travel expenses.
The governor, who announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee earlier this week, has steadily increased his national travel as he readies for a likely 2016 presidential campaign. And the costs of his state police security detail have grown with that travel, even amid ongoing state budget shortfalls.
In a recent budget hearing, the head of the Louisiana State Police told lawmakers his agency spent $2.2 million on travel expenses — both in-state and out-of-state — related to Jindal's protective detail this year.
The costs were higher than for Jindal's two predecessors.
Rep. Ted James, the Baton Rouge Democrat who proposed the financing change, said the state police shouldn't pay for costs associated with "the governor running for president."
Asked about the amendment, Jindal spokesman Mike Reed issued a statement saying: "We appreciate the work that State Police does for the Governor and his family every day and we're grateful for their service. We leave all security determinations up to the State Police and we trust them to do their job."
He didn't answer whether the governor's office could afford the costs.
The financing switch seems unlikely to survive the budget debate in the Senate, where Senate President John Alario is a Jindal ally.
– by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte