Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), who has led efforts to defund the police, reported spending nearly $50,000 in campaign donations so far this year to secure her home in crime-plagued Seattle.
Jayapal, the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, paid more than $23,000 from her campaign coffers to a high-end Seattle home renovation contractor and more than $17,000 to a fencing company, according to her latest Federal Election Commission filing. She also reported paying $4,784 to an alarm system company and $562 to a security camera provider. The expenses, which came between January and June, were all recorded as security-related.
It’s just the latest example of a Democratic leader spending extravagantly on personal security while advocating to slash funding for law enforcement. Progressive "Squad" members, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Cori Bush (Mo.), and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) have together funneled more than $1 million from their campaigns toward security costs while they push to defund the police, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Jayapal has gone even further on police reform than many of her left-wing colleagues. In May 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter fervor, Jayapal told Seattle’s NPR affiliate that "we have to completely reimagine what community safety looks like." She called to "shift significant resources from law enforcement" and replace some police officers with "community support people."
"I think if that were to happen, then you would see a smaller police force, you would see a better investment in the things that really matter to take on anti-Blackness and white supremacy," Jayapal said.
Later that summer, Jayapal praised the protesters of Seattle’s CHAZ—a self-declared "police-free zone" that quickly descended into deadly violence—for "standing up and speaking out against police brutality, racism, and anti-Blackness." In 2021, Jayapal cosponsored a bill to order a federal intelligence probe of "White supremacy in law enforcement," and last year, she helped water down legislation that increased funding to police, though she ultimately voted for it.
Meanwhile, Jayapal has invested significant campaign funds in personal security since at least 2018, according to FEC filings. The expenditures ramped up late last year, when she began making payments to the alarm company, ADT, and the security camera company, Arlo, that totaled $7,099.
More recently, Jayapal appears to have upgraded her home with donor funds marked for security. In April, her campaign shelled out $23,164 to Inspired Home, a high-end Seattle home renovation contractor. The business owner declined by phone to discuss his services. But on the company's website he says: "Whether you want your dream kitchen or a simple kitchen change out, you’re ready to finish your basement, finally add a master suite or remove walls to create an open concept living space, I am happy to conceptualize and deliver a quality project."
In March, Jayapal’s campaign paid $17,432 to West Seattle Fence, a custom cedar fence contractor.
Altogether, Jayapal was on track to spend more on personal security this year than all but a handful of her congressional colleagues did in 2022. Her office did not respond to a request for comment.
In 2017, the FEC ruled that "Members of Congress may use campaign contributions to install or upgrade residential security systems that do not constitute structural improvements to Members’ homes."
A possible explanation for Jayapal’s stepped-up security spending is an incident last July where an armed man shouted at her and her husband outside their Seattle home. She called the police and had him arrested.
"We felt threatened," Jayapal later told the Washington Post. "We still do."
"The house looks different now—she and Williamson see all the ways it needs to be ‘hardened,’" the Post reported in the lengthy profile about her "triggering" experience. "So did the neighborhood. The block ‘had been such a safe space,’ Jayapal said. Now it was ‘tainted.’"
Jayapal has since become an advocate for greater protections for members of Congress. Yet after an assassination attempt against conservative Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh last June, she was one of just 27 lawmakers who voted against giving the justices extra security.
Many of Jayapal's constituents have also felt less safe lately. Seattle and the rest of Washington State have seen crime surge since 2020 when the anti-police uprising began. Last year, property crimes increased by 9.8 percent while violent crimes increased by 8.9 percent in Washington, according to state data. The quantity of police statewide hit the lowest rate on record in 2022.