Bernie Sanders has a team of Secret Service agents who go with him everywhere. They protect him from potential enemy threat, and also rabid supporters who want a lock of his hair.
Presidential candidates can request Secret Service coverage at any point, but this election season, there have only been four people running who availed themselves of protection. Hillary Clinton is already covered for life as the wife of Bill Clinton. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders also accepted the Secret Service’s services, and Ben Carson did as well.
Carson cancelled his detail days after canceling his campaign. Sanders, however, is not conceding, and this principled stand ain’t cheap. The Washington Post reports:
In its fiscal 2016 budget request, the Secret Service estimated it would need $123.5 million for protection of presidential candidates. That included party conventions and debates.
The service would not discuss costs associated with individual candidates. But in 2008, the agency’s director testified to Congress that the cost averages about $38,000 a day — a figure likely to have increased in the intervening years.
Aides to Sanders did not dispute the figure but argued that the costs associated with his protection now are dramatically lower than they were at the height of the campaign, when Sanders was holding several rallies a day in different cities — all of which were staffed by teams of Secret Service agents.
Sanders had vowed to wear down the 926 “superdelegates” necessary to take back the nomination from Clinton, but aides say that he no longer plans to do so. This leaves him in a curious limbo of “spending most nights at his home in Vermont.” If he remains in the race until the DNC on July 25, the cost of the agents standing outside his house in Burlington could amount to well over a million dollars.
Sanders should certainly receive protection for as long as he feels he needs it, but if the Secret Service is being employed to keep up appearances of a continued campaign, it’s an expensive illusion.
Image via Getty.