Despite her record as a gun control advocate, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign headquarters is protected by a security consortium that carried online advertising for assault weapons and sniper training.
In fact, a number of presidential candidates have spent heavily on private security firms in the early months of the 2008 race, according to the Los Angeles Times. A Maryland security firm was paid more than $380,000 by the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, and provided bodyguards and intelligence for three months, until Obama was assigned Secret Service protection in May. Obama and Clinton -- the only presidential candidates with Secret Service protection -- have spent more on private security than any other candidate. Republican Rudy Giuliani also has had extensive private protection. Earlier this year, Giuliani had bodyguards paid by his private consulting firm -- an expense normally considered a campaign's responsibility. Giuliani has been protected during campaign appearances by a security team mostly made up of former New York police. Their expenses had been covered by Giuliani's consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, until June 18, when officials decided to begin paying them through the campaign. Clinton has paid more than $40,000 to private security operations in Virginia and California. At-Risk Protection & Investigations, a Virginia firm that the Clinton campaign paid nearly $22,000, is providing security at the campaign's headquarters in Arlington, Va. According to the Times, At-Risk is part of a trio of security companies under linked ownership whose weapon sales clearinghouse, Tactical Solutions Group, is owned by one of At-Risk's owners, James Roncal. Tactical Solutions advertises assault rifles, pistols and other weaponry and paramilitary gear on a website affiliated with At-Risk. Tactical's site advertises handguns and shotguns "that have no restricted law enforcement use," said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a national gun control advocacy group. He also questioned the "basic sniper" training that was being offered to the "general public" by Adrenalin Proving Grounds, another firm affiliated with At-Risk's website. Mitt Romney has spent at least $15,000 on protection from a Michigan security firm. And Giuliani's bodyguards are expected to add considerably to his costs now that they are being shouldered by his campaign.
The security presence on the campaign trail is "more, and starting earlier, than I've ever seen it," Joseph J. Funk, a former Secret Service agent who heads Global Security Services, told the Times. GSS is the Maryland firm hired to protect Obama from February to May.
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