State must pay OT to Walker's security team retroactive to May 2013
By Greg Neumann, Channel 27 (WKOW)
MADISON (WKOW) -- A 27 News investigation has found the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) is requiring the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT) to award retroactive overtime pay dating back to May 19, 2013 to nine Wisconsin State Patrol officers who serve as bodyguards for Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) and other state dignitaries.
Those officers comprise the state's Dignitary Protection Unit (DPU), which provides security for Gov. Walker 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That includes his protection on the presidential campaign trail. Since the State Patrol is a division of WISDOT, the officers are paid out of that agency's budget.
WISDOT Spokesperson Peg Schmitt told 27 News the agency was verbally notified of the decision by USDOL on Monday, August 24, but said officials have not yet determined how much it will cost state taxpayers.
Rhonda Burke, a USDOL spokesperson in Chicago, said in a typical investigation where a verbal notification is given, a written version of the decision would follow soon afterward.
But on Monday, Burke clarified that a written decision was not yet complete as the investigation is still ongoing. USDOL Spokesperson Scott Allen added that any further information, including whether a complaint was filed against WISDOT, would not be available until the final written decision is finished.
Burke said if a complaint was filed alleging overtime was not being correctly paid, USDOL wage and hour investigators would ask to examine pay roll records - including hours worked and rates of pay - to ensure the state was paying overtime wages in accordance with the law.
The cost for Gov. Walker's security detail jumped from $1.6 million in 2011 to $2.4 million in 2014. The out-of-state portion of that 2014 tab was $89,454, a number which is expected to jump up exponentially in 2015 with his run for the GOP presidential nomination.
Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) and Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) unveiled a new legislative proposal earlier this week that would require any state elected official who is running for - or even considering running for - higher office to submit a monthly travel form with the Government Accountability Board that explains what costs were incurred and who paid for them. Any campaign costs incurred by taxpayers would have to be reimbursed in a timely manner.
Both Rep. Shankland and Sen. Hansen jumped on news of the USDOL decision as an example of the lack of transparency associated with Walker's security expenses.