SEATTLE -Everywhere Gov. Jay Inslee goes, so does his security team. The plainclothes Washington State Patrol Officers are never far for good reason.
“Nobody is saying the protection of our government and our governor and his family is not important, it is important,” Sen. Phil Fortunato said.
But Fortunato says taxpayers should no longer be on the hook for all of the governor’s security expenses while he runs for president.
“There are a lot of governors association meetings that he went to that were specifically to lay the ground work for his political campaign, I don’t think anyone can deny that,” Fortunato said.
Gov. Inslee announced he was running for the presidency just last week.
But Fortunato says the governor has been traveling out of state for the past year prepping for the bid. And moving forward the senator says there will be more overtime hours for the members of the security team as Inslee travels the country campaigning.
“I am being told to raise taxes to cover some programs that somebody wants, yet we are paying money on his political campaign so at a time we are looking for pennies, use his own pennies,” Fortunato said.
Fortunato says in the last fiscal year, Inslee’s protection team went over budget by $400,000 now WSP is seeking an additional $1.3 million for the next two years just for the governor’s security detail.
Fortunato, a Republican sent the governor a letter addressing his concern.
The last line reads, “I wish you well in your endeavor promoting your so-called 'Green Agenda' but please do not take the green out of taxpayers’ pockets to do it.”
Q13 News asked Fortunato if he would have sent the same letter if a Republican was running for president.
“No I would not be sending the same letter but I would be in his office telling him hey you got to do this I wouldn’t be sending him a letter I would be in his office banging on his desk,” Fortunato sad.
Fortunato is also not shying away from opponents calling his move a political antic.
“Of course it’s political I mean it’s political environment,” Fortunato said.
He says his job as the “loyal” opposition is to draw attention to the issues.
We caught up to the governor at an event in UW late Wednesday afternoon. Inslee was there to talk about climate change. Q13 News asked the governor for a response but Inslee did not answer the question.
“I am happy to talk to you. This is an official event sponsored by this non profit organization and we are at the University of Washington so I am not able to answer questions related to the campaign,” Inslee said.
The governor then said we could reach out to his office for more comment. Q13 News did reach out to his office even before UW’s event. A spokesperson said the governor had received the letter. But that all policies currently in place would remain that way.