Candidates running for House and Senate offices increased campaign spending on security by more than 500 percent between the 2020 election and the 2022 midterms, found an analysis of filings with the Federal Election Commission, a measure of the extraordinary rise in threats against elected officials amid an increasingly volatile political climate, reports the Washington Post. The steep increases came as changes in federal campaign finance rules made it easier to spend campaign dollars on security, a recognition of the changing threat outlook for elected officials. Spending by House and Senate candidates rose from $1.3 million to nearly $8 million in that time. House members have spent more of the annual governmental allowance they are given to fund their offices on security, with spending rising from $675,000 in 2020 to $1.2 million in 2022.
Even as significant changes have been made to facilitate increased spending, lawmakers say more must be done to help protect themselves and their staff from a dramatic rise in daily threats. On Jan. 6, 2021, supporters of former president Trump overran the U.S. Capitol in hopes of overturning the 2020 election results, threatening to kill officials who stood in their way. How close lawmakers came to physical violence that day became a key impetus to addressing Congress members’ vulnerability as public figures. “We’re asking them to come in and do a difficult job already,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), who increased security spending to protect staff in his district office by almost $2,000 when lawmakers saw an increase in their funding allocation. “They’re dealing with somewhat of a stressful environment already, and then when their physical safety is threatened, you know, you need to make sure you’re taking care of your folks.” Lawmakers fear that, without instituting more stringent security measures, they and their families remain vulnerable to smaller, random incidents that can turn violent. “We’re not far away from a member who has faced a barrage of threats being attacked at a time that they did not have a threat detail, and I hate to say that, but I know that’s coming,” said said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who has received about 250 credible threats this year.