OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
California Rep. Maxine Waters, and some other Congress members, could be in hot water after an ethics complaint was filed against them for allegedly abusing the federal air marshal’s service.
The Air Marshal National Council said that the issue began after the pro-Trump rally at the Capitol on January 6, Fox News reported.
The Air Marshal National Council, which represents some of the nation’s roughly 2,000 air marshals, says the problem began after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Following that, some fearful lawmakers began requesting security — not just on Capitol grounds, but to and from their districts and even to vacation spots.
The Transportation Security Administration, which runs the Federal Air Marshal Service, began reassigning agents from “high risk” commercial flights to accompany members of Congress instead. This angered some sky marshals, as protecting the public is their primary mission. Capitol police, and when necessary the U.S. Secret Service, are tasked with protecting lawmakers. After 9/11, then-President George W. Bush gave the air marshals responsibility to protect the flying public, upping the number of agents from 33 to more than 4,000. Today, the program covers some 30,000 commercial flights a day…
LoBasco submitted a formal congressional ethics complaint about one such flight involving Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who flew from Washington, D.C., to Minneapolis on April 17 to attend the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. LoBasco says Waters was already accompanied by two armed Capitol Police and two U.S. Secret Service agents when she allegedly requested two air marshals and two more marshals on touchdown to escort her in the airport.
“Air marshals can only be assigned to high-risk flights. That means flights that have been deemed through our vetted process that have a security risk,” Executive Director of the Air Marshal National Council, Sonya Hightower LoBasco, said. “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.”
“Congresswoman Maxine Waters utilized numerous government resources inappropriately,” the complaint against Waters said. “Federal Air Marshals were removed from a “High Risk” flight to cover Ms. Waters flight to Minnesota. The High Risk flight took off with no armed law enforcement on board leaving a gap in National Security.”
“Air marshals for Miss Waters trip were assigned high risk missions, they were removed from those missions and assigned to Miss Waters mission on top of her already armed security detail from the Capitol Police,” she said. “That was not an official business trip. We still don’t have any justification as to why government resources were utilized to fly Miss Waters out to Minnesota.”
Another air marshal who is familiar with what happened said, “It’s ridiculous. Meanwhile, there are 30,000 other flights with no armed agents.”
The 82-year-old representative has denied abusing the federal air marshal’s service and on Friday night the U.S. Capitol Police and U.S. Secret Service denied providing her protection.
“The latest Fox ‘News’ campaign against me falsely claiming that I requested police, secret service, & air marshals on an April 17 flight is an absolute lie. I have never requested law enforcement protection on my flights. Deceitful, lying Fox ‘News’ must be stopped,” she said.
She said that Fox News is “an organization that charades as a news outlet while manufacturing lies, claiming them as truths, and using their platform that reaches millions of Americans as a vessel to spread misinformation.”
“Let it be made clear that I have never requested or utilized any Capitol Police, Secret Service, or U.S. Air Marshal presence on that flight or any of my flights,” she said.