House Republicans in Annapolis requested last week that Gov. Martin O'Malley reimburse state taxpayers for nearly $100,000 in travel costs incurred by the state police for protecting him on out-of-state trips — a debate sparked by a routine records request by The Baltimore Sun.
The governor's emergence as a national star has been a topic of considerable discussion in Maryland political circles, both by allies who are buoyed by his successes and by critics who question his commitment to the state.
The Sun has sought to shed light on impact of his national rise, including the cost to taxpayers.
When O'Malley travels for political reasons — campaigning for President Barack Obama or raising money for the Democratic governors group that he has chaired for two years — his expenses are typically reimbursed by the political organization for which he's working.
But The Sun, which at times sends reporters to cover the governor when he is out of state, noticed that his executive protection team was there, too. It's a service the state police provide for all governors, and even some county executives.
In a public records request to the Maryland State Police, the newspaper asked for the cost of overtime, hotel bills, meals, rental cars, gas, airline and train tickets and other related expenses of troopers protecting the governor.
The answer: The Maryland State Police protected the governor on 26 out-of-state trips from January through September (when the request was made). The cost was $98,460.
The agency would not be more specific about the costs, saying that doing so could reveal how many troopers are assigned to the protective detail.
The Sun included the figure in an article last week. The reporting was picked up by The Washington Post, the Associated Press and other news organizations.
On Tuesday, the House Republicans sent the letter to the governor requesting reimbursement. The governor's office has not replied.