MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – Alabama's Department of Homeland Security is assisting the Governor's Office in funding the salaries of three cabinet members.
Governor Robert Bentley's Chief of Staff Chuck Malone, Chief Legal Adviser Cooper Shattuck, and ALDOT Director John Cooper are each paid by the Department of Homeland Security.
"What he is doing is using a couple of state agencies to help pay for some of the costs but then those costs are being reimbursed by the agencies within which the cabinet members reside" said David Perry, the Director of the Department of Finance.
Malone will make $179,000 this year, and Shattuck and Cooper will each earn salaries of $169,000.
Perry said the high salaries were necessary in order for the governor to recruit top people to work for the state instead of the private sector. He said the positions in Homeland Security offered higher compensation for the three who would work exclusively alongside Governor Bentley.
"Homeland Security had a couple of employee positions with higher salary caps so it was an issue with there the employee was assigned rather than whether the money was available" Perry said.
Perry made sure to explain that the state is not losing any money on the transfer of funds from Homeland Security.
"It's no loss to the General Fund" Perry said. "The money is being paid out of the General Fund but it requires transfers between agencies in order to provide the governor the flexibility to go above the benchmark salary for cabinet members."
The benchmark salary for cabinet members is $91,000. Cooper, the ALDOT director is making nearly twice as much as his predecessor Joe McInnes who made the minimum.
Perry also explained that the cabinet members have additional security clearance and classifications that fall under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security.
"Malone is the first person informed of any security breach in the state and Shattuck is next in line" Perry said.
In regard to ALDOT, Perry explained that many Homeland Security issues overlap when they have to do with infrastructure.
The governor's office is responsible for paying back the Homeland Security funds with those out of the General Fund. To date, out of the $60,000 paid out to the three cabinet members, about $40,000 of it has been paid back to the General Fund.