Several presidential candidates have spent heavily on private security, and their reliance on bodyguards, security consultants and even private investigators has led some campaigns into uncharted territory, reports the Los Angeles Times. A Maryland security firm was paid more than $380,000 by the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.), for three months until he was given Secret Service protection in May. Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) — the only presidential candidates under federal protection — have each spent more on private security than any other candidate. Republicans Rudolph Giuliani and former Mitt Romney have also had extensive private protection.
The use of private security has become a stopgap in the period before Secret Service protection begins for candidates who survive the early stage of campaigning. Those designations are expected later this year. The Secret Service is bracing for an unprecedented strain on its own resources. he agency plans to borrow as many as 2,000 federal officers to cover the many presidential candidates, budgeting more than $110 million for protection. In the 2004 election cycle, the agency spent $65 million. Even before the Department of Homeland Security assigned him Secret Service coverage, Obama had reasons for hiring private bodyguards. His rallies attracted a crush of supporters and he has been the target of taunts and threatening comments on the Web.