Shoring Up The Gains
November 5, 2008 10:36 AM   Subscribe

If I wanted to donate money specifically to the U.S. Secret Service, is such a thing even possible, and how would I go about doing it?
posted by felix to Law & Government (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just pay your taxes.
posted by Zambrano at 10:48 AM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Secret Service has some charitable partnerships, such as with the Boys and Girls Club.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:49 AM on November 5, 2008

You should check with service organizations founded to help the SS's members and family. Here's one I just found, that I know nothing about.

Like any human being SS agents may well stay more focused and be more effective at their, inherently risky, jobs when they know they and they're loved ones will be provided for if the worst should happen.
posted by Science! at 10:52 AM on November 5, 2008

Seconding Cool Papa Bell and Science! -- look to organizations that they work with or service orgs. The Association seems pretty legit; Jerry Parr was a former president.

It is also possible to make a gift of money directly to the US government but in general you can't give gifts of more than $20 to individual government employees, although I think this is generally meant to avoid contractors from influencing government bids.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:58 AM on November 5, 2008

Money's fungible. There'll be more money for the USSS and everything else if the debt is paid down... you can donate to the federal government to help pay down the debt:

"Make your check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt, and in the memo section, notate that it is a Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public. Mail your check to:

"Attn Dept G
"Bureau Of the Public Debt
"P. O. Box 2188
"Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188"
posted by Jahaza at 11:07 AM on November 5, 2008

You can donate money to any U. S. government agency just by mailing them a check made out to the United States Treasury. Include a cover letter stating what purposes you are donating to, if you want to be specific. They are at:
U.S. Secret Service, 245 Murray Drive, Building 410, Washington, DC 20223
posted by beagle at 11:07 AM on November 5, 2008

As a practical matter, donating money to the Secret Service is really just an open gift to the government because they get basically all of the money they need. That's not an area that gets skimped on. So even if you were to send, say, $100... it's just going to replace $100 that would have otherwise come from tax dollars and those tax dollars are going to go to something else.

I guess if it makes you feel like you're doing something, though, there's always that, but it's not actually going to improve the quality or performance of the Secret Service.

You could probably do more with that money by donating it to a charitable org in your local community.
posted by toomuchpete at 12:03 PM on November 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

For those interested, there is a reason you can't give directly to government agencies: it's unconstitutional. Though this may seem a bit odd, there is a good explanation. Only Congress has the power to spend money, and if the Executive were able to fund its operations through private donations the single largest check on Executive power would be gutted.

If you think this seems far-fetched, imagine, say, the FDA getting even friendlier with Big Pharma or the USDA getting more in bed with agribusiness and Congress getting annoyed. Should the President decide not to rein them in, Congress's only option is to cut funding. If the agency could simply take money from the industries they're supposed to be regulating, they could keep doing what they're doing with no political checks whatsoever.

Now what you have in mind probably isn't all that big of a deal, but as there doesn't seem to be a way of preventing the really big problems without preventing little acts of kindness, prohibiting the latter seems a fair price for avoiding the former.
posted by valkyryn at 12:15 PM on November 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's also important to remember that the Secret Service performs a number of functions, and the one area they're not going to cut corners on is Presidential Protection.

Therefore, assuming that they were to accept your money, each dollar you send them will probably support things like protective details for foreign leaders and investigations.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2008

Thinking in entrepreneurial terms, and having just read something about Erik Prince on another page, I'm reminded of modern day mercenaries and their prevalence in society. I suspect that with all the anxiety over President-elect Obama's safety, some resourceful individual will start an organization with the specific goal of provided added security. There might be an opportunity for charitable giving there should someone take that task on themselves, though I certainly wouldn't want to be the one trying to explain to the USSS why I've hired a bunch of mercenaries in flak jackets to set up a perimeter with big guns around the President.
posted by greekphilosophy at 12:57 PM on November 5, 2008

"greekphilosophy": Sorry, but that idea is just loony. The US Secret Service works with local law enforcement for the specific goal of providing added security to the President when he travels outside the White House. We don't need Blackwater, Black Panthers, or any other organization to "help."
posted by BobbyVan at 1:41 PM on November 5, 2008

I have a couple of good friends in the SS. If you'd like I can ask them if there's any orgs they prefer, just Me-Mail me.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:12 PM on November 5, 2008

I'm not sure about the Secret Service, but Republicans often cut benefits for military personnel, like say the VA or GI bill. So I'd suspect that military & SS personnel & family will fare better once Obama takes office regardless. Why not simply write your congressmen about what you feel is important?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:03 PM on November 5, 2008

I mean, you can (1) find out if any cuts during Bush v2 have adversely effected Secret Service agents, i.e. if they qualify for VA, GI bill, etc., and (2) write your congressmen about reversing those cuts. You're most likely to see those cuts reversed while the democrats are running the show.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:08 PM on November 5, 2008

Valkyrn, what's your authority for that position? Citations to court opinions would be most appreciated.
posted by saslett at 10:17 PM on November 5, 2008

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