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Lawmakers accused of abuse of federal air marshal service for personal VIP 'concierge service'

Rep. Maxine Waters' trip to Minneapolis, for which she already had security, was a prime example.

Updated: May 14, 2021 - 11:29pm

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Members of Congress have been abusing the federal air marshals program created after 9/11 to protect air travelers, using it in some cases as a VIP "concierge service," according to the air marshals' association. 

The Air Marshal National Council, which represents approximately 2,000 air marshals, says that after the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol is when the abuse of the system began, according to Fox News. That is when lawmakers began requesting the additional security for their protection when traveling. 

The Federal Air Marshal Service is part of the Transportation Security Administration. When the requests started after Jan. 6, air marshals were frequently reassigned from their normal "high risk" commercial flights, to instead accompany members of Congress. 

This angered some of the air marshals who view their job as protecting the public, not members of Congress, who are already protected by the Capitol Police, and if necessary, by the Secret Service as well, according to the outlet. 

One such example, which resulted in a complaint filed with the House Committee on Ethics by the Council, was that of Rep. Maxine Waters, who flew to Minneapolis on April 17 for the Derek Chauvin trial. She already was accompanied by two armed Capitol Police and two Secret Service agents, yet she requested two air marshals plus two more air marshals upon landing to escort her in the airport. 

"Congresswoman Maxine Waters utilized numerous government resources inappropriately," according to the complaint. "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."

TSA issued a statement, saying: "Following the events of January 6th at the U.S. Capitol, the Transportation Security Administration enhanced security and law enforcement presence throughout the transportation system to include airports and aboard aircraft to protect the traveling public, including Members of Congress."

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