Clinton Campaign Will Stop Taking Cash from Private Prison Companies’ PACs and Lobbyists

George LavenderOctober 26, 2015

Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign for Pres­i­dent moved to dis­tance itself from pri­vate prison com­pa­nies last week. 

Activists had crit­i­cized Clin­ton for what they said was a con­tra­dic­tion between her recent rhetoric on end­ing mass incar­cer­a­tion” and her cam­paign’s con­nec­tions to some of the coun­try’s lead­ing pri­vate prison cor­po­ra­tions. Clin­ton’s cam­paign announced Fri­day she will no longer accept dona­tions from fed­er­al­ly reg­is­tered lob­by­ists or PACs for com­pa­nies involved in incar­cer­a­tion. Her cam­paign said that mon­ey she has already recieved will be donat­ed to charity. 

As Alice Oll­stein reports at ThinkProgress, the announce­ment came after months of cam­paign­ing by immi­grant and civ­il rights groups.

When we’re deal­ing with a mass incar­cer­a­tion cri­sis, we don’t need pri­vate indus­try incen­tives that may con­tribute — or have the appear­ance of con­tribut­ing — to over-incar­cer­a­tion,” cam­paign spokesper­son Xochitl Hino­josa told ThinkProgress, explain­ing that Clin­ton will donate the large amount she has already received from these sources to a yet-to-be-named charity.

Hino­josa explained that the move is part of Clinton’s promise to end the era of mass incar­cer­a­tion,” espe­cial­ly pri­vate pris­ons and pri­vate immi­grant deten­tion centers.

She believes that we should not con­tract out this core respon­si­bil­i­ty of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment,” Hino­josa said. This is only one of many ways that she believes we need to re-bal­ance our crim­i­nal jus­tice and immi­gra­tion systems.”

Yet the deci­sion came after months of pres­sure from civ­il rights and immi­grant jus­tice groups, who launched online peti­tions and inter­rupt­ed Clinton’s pub­lic events, demand­ing she cut ties with the pri­vate prison industry.

Our mes­sage was, You can’t be pro-immi­grant and still have this blem­ish on your record,’” said Zenén Jaimes Pérez with Unit­ed We Dream, one of many orga­ni­za­tions that teamed up to press Clin­ton. She had [cam­paign dona­tion] bundlers who worked for the Cor­rec­tions Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca and Geo Group, which run most of the immi­grant deten­tion cen­ters in this coun­try. For me, it was a big deal, because my dad was detained in a Geo facil­i­ty. She was tak­ing mon­ey from a group prof­it­ing from my family’s suf­fer­ing.” Con­tin­ue reading… 

As Lee Fang at The Inter­cept report­ed ear­li­er this sum­mer, sev­er­al promi­nent bundlers” for the Clin­ton cam­paign were tied to Geo Group and Cor­rec­tions Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca. Bundlers are cam­paign fundrais­ers who solic­it large dona­tions from friends, fam­i­ly and col­leagues. (They reg­u­lar­ly go on to polit­i­cal posi­tions or recieve oth­er gov­ern­ment favors) 

Richard Sul­li­van, of the lob­by­ing firm Capi­tol Coun­sel, is a bundler for the Clin­ton cam­paign, bring­ing in $44,859 in con­tri­bu­tions in a few short months. Sul­li­van is also a reg­is­tered lob­by­ist for the Geo Group, a com­pa­ny that oper­ates a num­ber of jails, includ­ing immi­grant deten­tion cen­ters, for profit.

As we report­ed yes­ter­day, ful­ly five Clin­ton bundlers work for the lob­by­ing and law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Cor­rec­tions Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca, the largest pri­vate prison com­pa­ny in Amer­i­ca, paid Akin Gump$240,000 in lob­by­ing fees last year. The firm also serves as a law firm for the prison giant, rep­re­sent­ing the com­pa­ny in court.

Akin Gump lob­by­ist and Clin­ton bundler Bri­an Pop­per dis­closed that he pre­vi­ous­ly helped CCA defeat efforts to com­pel pri­vate pris­ons to respond to Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act requests.

Hillary Clin­ton has a com­pli­cat­ed his­to­ry with incar­cer­a­tion. As first lady, she cham­pi­oned efforts to get tough on crime. We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sen­tences for repeat offend­ers,” Clin­ton said in 1994. The three strikes and you’re out’ for vio­lent offend­ers has to be part of the plan. We need more pris­ons to keep vio­lent offend­ers for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets,” she added. Con­tin­ue reading… 

Dur­ing this cam­paign Clin­ton has spo­ken pub­licly about the need to end mass incar­cer­a­tion.” In April she told an audi­ence at the Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Forum at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty that there is some­thing pro­found­ly wrong when African-Amer­i­can men are still far more like­ly to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sen­tenced to longer prison terms than are met­ed out to their white counterparts.”

George Laven­der is an award-win­ning radio and print jour­nal­ist based in Los Ange­les. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @GeorgeLavender.
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