“That was not an official business trip,” Air Marshal National Council executive director Sonya Hightower LoBasco told Fox News. “We still don’t have any justification as to why government resources were utilized to fly Ms. Waters out to Minnesota.”
A formal ethics complaint has been filed against U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-California)
Washington, DC – Members of Congress have been using federal air marshals like a “VIP concierge” service for personal security in recent months
From: The Police Tribune
The Air Marshal National Council said the problem began after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot when scared lawmakers began requesting air marshal escorts to and from their home districts and even on vacation, FOX News reported.
The Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) falls under the authority of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and is responsible for the safety of the flying public, not lawmakers.
U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Secret Service are tasked with providing personal protection to legislators and officials who require it, FOX News reported.
Former President George W. Bush increased the air marshal force from 33 marshals to 4,000 after 9/11 so it could cover all “high risk” commercial flights.
But so many federal lawmakers have requested air marshals to protect them on flights and in airports in recent months that there haven’t been enough to put on all the commercial flights that should have them, FOX News reported.
“Air marshals can only be assigned to high-risk flights,” Air Marshal National Council Executive Director Sonya Hightower LoBasco said.
“That means flights that have been deemed through our vetted process that have a security risk,” LoBasco explained. “When these processes are violated and they’re taken advantage of and they are just tossed to the side now as if they don’t matter, we’re really looking into creating a major problem for ourselves in the aviation domain.”
Some of members of Congress already have security details that travel with them but asked for air marshals, too, FOX News reported.
And some lawmakers have requested air marshals to provide their security and then missed their scheduled flights.
LoBasco said the air marshals work as two-person teams and were assigned to cover the members of Congress after the lawmaker made the request to Capitol Police, who forwarded it to TSA, who told the air marshals to schedule it, FOX News reported.