BREAKING: Legislature Launches Investigation into Lt. Gov. Barnes Travel

OSHKOSH  – Members of the Wisconsin Joint Legislative Audit Committee are calling on the State Patrol to provide answers about the security costs for Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. His unprecedented security costs to Wisconsin taxpayers are over $600,000 for an average of more than 13.5 hours of security protection per day – including for personal trips to concerts and marathons.

Read the full story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal here, or read excerpts below:

Two Republican audit committee leaders launch an inquiry into security costs for Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes

Daniel Bice

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

September 26, 2022

Two Republican leaders of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee are calling on the State Patrol to provide answers about the security costs for Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. 

Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), co-chairman of the audit committee, and Rep. John Macco (R-Ledgeview), committee vice chair, wrote State Patrol Superintendent Tim Carnahan on Sept. 15 requesting security costs for state’s top two officials from July 1, 2021, to Aug. 31.

The GOP pair also asked for documentation on how the State Patrol determines the level of security that is needed and the roles Evers and Barnes’ staff play in this process. In addition, Cowles and Macco asked how state security officials handle private and political events.

“Questions have arisen recently concerning perceived rising costs for security protection services of Wisconsin state public officials by the Wisconsin State Patrol, most notably services rendered for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor,” Cowles and Macco wrote.

Carnahan was given until Oct. 6 to respond to the questions. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Barnes has averaged more than 13½ hours of security protection a day — including weekdays, weekends and holidays — at a daily cost to the state of $660 for patrol officers’ wages during his first three years as the state’s No. 2 elected official. That’s more than 10 times the number of hours as his predecessor.

Overall, the cost of providing security to Barnes during roughly his first three years in office came to $608,528 for a total of 14,370 hours of work. The state provided records to the Journal Sentinel for the period from January 2019 to November 20, 2021.

But Alec Zimmerman, a spokesman for Johnson, applauded the inquiry by the two members of the legislative audit committee. 

“Wisconsin taxpayers deserve answers as to why Lt. Gov. Barnes had the audacity to push the defund the police movement while at the same time using State Patrol as his personal Uber service,” Zimmerman said. “Hopefully, the Legislature’s investigation leads to explanations and the truth.”

Read more from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.