Israel has long been a focal point in international policy for Texas Republican lawmakers. Several current Texas officials have traveled to the country. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick even got baptized in the Jordan River.
But Peggy Fikac, Austin bureau chief for the San Antonio Express News, reports that some aspects of these trips have come with hefty price tags for the state’s taxpayers.
Fikac says the state’s top officials – the governor, lieutenant governor, and the attorney general – all have state-provided security details that travel with them, both inside and outside the U.S. Each has traveled to Israel, citing the nation as an important trading partner for Texas. Fikac says evangelical voters, who are important to all three men’s electoral success, have an affinity for Israel for religious reasons.
Fikac says Attorney General Ken Paxton ran up the largest security tab for an Israel trip, at close to $75,000. Paxton spent a week in Israel as part of a group of state attorneys general. He then extended his trip by another week.
Gov. Greg Abbott’s two-day stop in Israel on the way to Switzerland cost taxpayers $32,000. Patrick’s security costs came in at $49,000 for one week.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller also traveled to Israel, but did not take a state-provided security detail. Miller’s office said members of the Israeli Defense Force volunteered to provide security for Miller during his stay.
The current officials are not the first Texas leaders to visit Israel. Both former governors Rick Perry and George W. Bush traveled there during their tenures.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.