Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been one of many sources of controversy in the Trump administration. Only days after DeVos was confirmed, she began receiving 24-hour protection from the United States Marshals Service. The armed around the clock armed protection has not been provided to any other cabinet secretary.
DeVos’ protection comes with a hefty price tag. The security detail could cost the American taxpayers as much as $19.8 million through September of 2019. That amount comes from numbers given to NBC News by the Marshals Service.
On February 13, 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions granted protection to DeVos. Days before the protection was granted, DeVos heckled by a small group of protestors who blocked her way while she attempted to enter Jefferson Academy. Jefferson Academy is a public middle school in Washington. It remains unclear who requested the protection.
In a statement, the Department of Justice said, “The order was issued after the Department of Education contacted administration officials regarding threats received by the Secretary of Education.” The statement continued, “The U.S.M.S. was identified to assist in this area based on its expertise and long experience providing executive protection.”
According to the US Marshal Service, protecting DeVos cost taxpayers $5.3 million in fiscal year 2017 and $6.8 million in fiscal year 2018. Costs for DeVos’ protection in 2019 are estimated to run $7.74 million. Even former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned amidst countless ethics investigations, spent less on protection. Pruitt’s protection cost only $3.5 million. That amount was found to be “not justified.”
DeVos is the only current cabinet secretary to receive US Marshal protection. Historically, only one other cabinet position has received similar protection, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Most commonly, cabinet secretaries receive security arranged by their own departments’ internal units. After DeVos began receiving US Marshal Service protection, she spent under 4% of her time visiting public schools.