WellPoint’s CEO gets extra security…

It’s no secret that WellPoint (WLP) CEO Angela Braly has been front and center during the long healthcare debate. In late February, she was summoned to Washington to testify before Congress and explain why some customers of WellPoint subsidiary Anthem Blue Cross were expected to see their premiums jump by 39%. In posts like this one on Firedoglake, Braly and her company were virtually hung in effigy.

So perhaps it’s not much of a surprise to read about sharply increased security costs for Braly in the proxy that WellPoint filed late Friday. Last year, the company spent $151K to provide additional security to Braly “in light of growing concerns regarding the safety of Ms. Braly and her family as a result of the national health care debate.” The $151K covered “personal security during travel, a security-enhanced vehicle and in-home security.” A quick skim of the 2008 proxy shows that these expenses appear to be new.

Of course, these additional expenses weren’t just approved after a quick skim of some liberal blogs. Consultants were hired, who, needless to say, concluded that the expenses were in fact necessary. Here’s a snip from the filing:

In 2009, we consulted with external security experts and reviewed the personal safety and security policy in effect for our executives. As a result of this study, the Committee approved enhanced safety and security benefits for Ms. Braly including travel security, home security and an increase to her cash Directed Executive Compensation benefit in order to generally cover her personal costs related to these additional security measures.

Still, given that Braly’s public profile and subsequent flogging didn’t really become significant until February once Anthem customers began receiving notices of those hefty premium hikes, one can only imagine how much higher those security costs will be for 2010.

Image source: Department of the Interior