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Perry Won't Refund Security Costs for Presidential Bid

Gov. Perry has brushed off calls to reimburse security expenses arising from his presidential run..
Photo by KUT News
Gov. Perry has brushed off calls to reimburse security expenses arising from his presidential run..

Texas Democrats calling on Gov. Rick Perry to repay the taxpayer-funded security costs associated with his run for president shouldn't hold their breath. A Perry spokeswoman said Monday that it wasn't the governor's decision to have a security detail out on the campaign trail — it was the Department of Public Safety's. And she said "not a dime" of Perry's own travel expenses were paid by taxpayers. 

"The Department of Public Safety has a policy of providing security for governors and their families everywhere they travel, as they have back several administrations," said Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed. "These policies are determined by DPS and not the governor’s office. It’s unfortunate that we live in a day and age where security is an issue."

Nashed's response followed a letter that state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, the leader of the House Democrats, sent to the governor's office Monday, asking him to repay the $2.6 million the state spent on his security detail between August, when Perry entered the GOP presidential race, and last week, when he dropped out days before the South Carolina primary.

"One way to protect taxpayers' money is by not spending it unnecessarily," Farrar wrote. "But, if someone discovers tax dollars have been spent unnecessarily, it should be reimbursed either to general revenue or directly to taxpayers."

The governor's office offered a sarcasm-laced response to Farrar, known for her ardent support of federal health initiatives. "We’re encouraged to see Rep. Farrar wanting to join the ranks of fiscal conservatives in Texas," Nashed said, "and look forward to her joining our efforts to persuade Congress and President Obama to repeal the fiscally irresponsible mandates of Obamacare."

Emily Ramshaw investigates state agencies and covers social services for KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune. Previously, she spent six years reporting for The Dallas Morning News, first in Dallas, then in Austin. In April 2009 she was named Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Headliners Foundation of Texas. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, she received a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
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