It’s no secret that President Donald Trump’s penchant for weekend getaways has created added costs for the Secret Service. But the agency is in such dire straits that more than 1,000 agents have hit the caps for annual salary and overtime allowances, director Randolph “Tex″ Alles told USA Today in an exclusive interview.
Part of the challenge for the Secret Service is the size of the Trump entourage. A total of 42 people receive Secret Service protection (including 18 family members), Alles said, up from 31 people during President Barack Obama’s administration.
And Secret Service protection details are required to accompany them, even on vacations to places like Aspen, Colorado, Germany and Hungary, or business trips that took Trump’s two adult sons to Vancouver, Canada, and Dubai.
“The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,″ Alles told USA Today. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”
Because of major attrition among agents, many are working overtime regularly or have been pulled off other assignments to serve the Trump family, The New York Times reported in April.
Alles told USA Today he’s talking with lawmakers on approving a raise in the combined salary and overtime cap for agents ― to $187,000 a year from $160,000 ― to cover at least Trump’s first term. Without such legislation, at least 1,100 agents wouldn’t be eligible for overtime for the rest of this year, Alles said.
The timing could not be worse, USA Today notes. The United Nations General Assembly, taking place next month, will bring almost 150 foreign heads of state to New York City. The Secret Service manages security for the event.
“Normally, we are not this tapped out,″ Alles said.
In a statement Alles issued Monday after the USA Today article appeared, he said the Secret Service “has the funding it needs to meet all current mission requirements” and pay overtime through the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year. But he added that the agency estimates that “roughly 1,100 employees will work overtime hours in excess of statutory pay caps during calendar year 2017.”
Appointed to his post in April by Trump, Alles insisted that “the issue is not one that can be attributed to the current administration’s requirements, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo.”
Alles told USA Today he has raised the financial concerns with White House officials. “They understand,” he said. “They accommodate to the degree they can and to the degree that it can be controlled. They have been supportive the whole time.″
“After much consideration, it was mutually determined that it would be more cost effective and logistically practical for the Secret Service to lease space elsewhere,” a Trump Organization spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost.
Trump has traveled to his Mar-A-Lago club in Florida or to golf clubs he owns in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Sterling, Virginia, on most of the weekends he’s been in office. In the first three months of the year, the Secret Service spent $35,000 on golf cart rentals at Mar-A-Lago, CBS News reported.