'Red flags': Tulsi Gabbard’s sister has played a key role in Kyrsten Sinema’s costly security arrangement

'Red flags': Tulsi Gabbard’s sister has played a key role in Kyrsten Sinema’s costly security arrangement

It remains to be seen whether or not Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a former Democrat turned independent, will seek reelection in 2024. If she runs as an independent, Arizona could see a three-way U.S. Senate race been centrist Sinema, liberal Rep. Ruben Gallego (who is seeking the Democratic nomination) and a GOP candidate.

But Sinema continues to caucus with Democrats despite having officially left the Democratic Party in December 2022, and like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), she remains an unpredictable wild card in the Senate.

Sinema’s security arrangements are the focus of a report by the Daily Beast’s Sam Brodey. According to Brodey, a key figure in those arrangements is the sister of former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (who, like Sinema, is an-ex Democrat).

READ MORE:Arizona lawmaker wages war against Kyrsten Sinema with new Senate campaign

In an article published by the Beast on February 23, Brodey reports, "Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) spends more of her campaign funds on security than nearly every other member of Congress — she's underwritten well over $560,000 for her protection since late 2021 — but what’s more unusual than how much she spends is who she spends it on. According to federal campaign finance filings, Sinema's campaign committees have paid a combined $307,000 in security expenses to an Arizona-registered entity called TOA Group LLC. And official documents show that TOA Group LLC has just one officer: Vrindivan Gabbard Bellord — best known as the sister of, and occasional spokesperson for, Tulsi Gabbard."

According to Brodey, Bellord has been serving as "security director" for Sinema’s office since 2021.

"Beyond paying Bellord’s salary," Brodey reports, "Sinema’s campaign committee and personal PAC have spent over $240,000 on other security-related expenses — airfare, lodging, meals, and other benefits for 'security detail,' presumably meaning Bellord. In 2022, Sinema’s campaigns spent over $56,000 for security detail lodging at Marriott hotels alone."

The Daily Beast discussed the Sinema/Bellord security arrangement with some campaign finance law experts.

READ MORE: Democrats are facing a 'nightmare Kyrsten Sinema dilemma' for 2024: report

"Saurav Ghosh, a former campaign finance attorney now at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said security is ‘not the craziest thing for a campaign to spend money on,'" Brodey explains. "But Ghosh remarked the $300,000-plus sum that Bellord received from Sinema was 'eye-opening' and that the fact that the senator is her only apparent client is 'one of the biggest red flags.'"

The reporter adds, "That Bellord is being paid with campaign funds for security while drawing a taxpayer-funded salary for the same kind of work is 'exceptionally rare,' said Brendan Fischer, executive director of the watchdog group Documented…. That Sinema and Bellord have preexisting personal connections adds to the need for transparency, the experts said."

Gabbard was still a Democrat when she ran for president in 2020, but these days, she is a major critic of the Democratic Party and often parrots MAGA talking points during her appearances on Fox News. Brodey notes that Sinema and Gabbard "first became friends when both arrived in the U.S. House as freshmen in 2013."

Sinema ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018, defeating Republican nominee Martha McSally (who also served in the U.S. House). And her willingness to cross party lines and vote with Republicans has been a frequent source of frustration to the Democratic Party's liberal/progressive wing.

Fischer told the Daily Beast, "No one’s questioning the value of hiring security, but Sinema should be able to tell her constituents why so much money is being paid to this particular person and for these particular expenditures."

READ MORE: Kyrsten Sinema's Democratic consultants abandon her after she switches parties

Read The Daily Beast's full report at this link.

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