Florida

Humpday Hall of Shame: Mike Haridopolos, Part 2

Welcome to the Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

For the second week in a row, our Humpday Hall of Shame award goes to Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R – Merritt Island).  Haridolopos is a major proponent of an effort to cede control of 29 south Florida prisons to private prison corporations.  That effort, until this week, appeared to be sailing through the state legislature.  We reported last week that Haridopolos had received more than $67,000 in campaign contributions from private prison corporations since 2009.

However, this week, several state Senators (including many members of Haridopolos's Republican party) have bucked the idea of what would be the largest prison privatization in U.S. history.  They've objected to the proposal saying that prison privatization doesn't save money, can be dangerous for those incarcerated and working in prisons, and is ultimately is a payoff to for-profit prison companies who have made huge donations to politicians in Florida.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Is Corruption Clouding the Sunshine State?

Welcome to the Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

What does almost $900,000 in political contributions buy in the Florida State legislature?

For private prison companies the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and The GEO Group, it may buy them the conversion of twenty-nine state correctional facilities to private prisons. Nearly 4,000 state employees and 16,000 inmates will be affected if SB7172 is passed.

Governor Scott’s inaugural fund received $25,000 from Florida-based The GEO Group and $5,000 from the Corrections Corporation of America. In 2010, The GEO Group and its staff made more than $700,000 in political contributions in the Sunshine State. CCA contributed $138,994. CCA and GEO are the world’s largest private incarceration corporations.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Welcome to the Humpday Hall of Shame: every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This week we induct Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the powerful Democratic Congresswoman from Florida and chair of the Democratic National Committee for her support of a new Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) immigrant detention center in south Florida.

Corrections Corporation of America has done their part to win Congresswoman Wasserman Shultz's support, donating $1,000 to her campaign in April of this year.  Wasserman Schultz has received at least $7,250 in private prison donations since 1998, according to data accessed at TransparancyData.org and analyzed by Grassroots Leadership.

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Humpday Hall of Shame: Rick Scott

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be highlighting the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

According to the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, the Sunshine State has seen a significant drop in crime over the past decade; violent crime by 

41% and property crime by 46%. And during this period of plummeting crime rates, the number of incarcerated rose from 47,012 in 1992 to 98,192 in 2008 and in June of 2010 there were 102,232 in custody in Florida’s 144 prison facilities. Approximately 8% of the prison population was housed in the state’s for-profit facilities at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately $133 million a year.

Florida Governor Rick Scott received generous contributions from the private prison industry.  The GEO Group contributed $400,000 to GOP candidates in the 2010 election cycle and the maximum $25,000 to the Governor’s Inaugural Fund.  In fact, politicians in Florida received nearly $1 million in campaign contributions from private prison corporations in that time frame. The Governor appointed top lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who works for both The GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, to his Inaugural Fund and Ballard reciprocated by raising $3million for the event.  Ballard has hosted fundraisers at his home where Governor Scott was the guest of honor.

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Teamsters challenge Florida prison privatization effort

A plan to privatize up to 30 south Florida prisons has run into more opposition. Here's what the Teamsters Union has to say about it:

"Florida policymakers' push to privatize a huge part of its prison system has drawn the wrath of the Teamsters union, which announced Wednesday that it had filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Rick Scott.

The complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics says Scott's privatization push is "tainted" because he accepted $30,000 for his inaugural committee from the two largest companies vying for the contracts, the GEO Group and Corrections Corp. of America. The companies also contributed more than $1 million to candidates in 2010, it says.

It also says Scott has a conflict of interest because the State Board of Administration, which he chairs, owns $10 million in stock in the two companies in the state pension fund." (Orlando Sentinal, September 14, 2011)

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