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More Private Prison Money Flows to Arizona Politicians

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has been criticized for the influence Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has upon her and her staff. She accepted $60,000 in campaign contributions from people associated with

CCA. Her senior policy advisor and campaign manager has a consulting firm that lobbies for CCA. His wife is a CCA lobbyist. CCA seemed to have a lock on Arizona's lucrative private prison market.

Florida-based Geo Group, CCA's main competitor and one of the bidders for a state contract to build private prisons in Arizona and manage those prisons' 5,000 private prison beds, has taken a page from CCA's playbook. Since the governor was already spoken for, Geo Group decided to try to influence the distribution of state money to private prisons at the money distribution level.

Lobbyists associated with Geo Group gave at least six campaign contributions to state Rep. John Kavanaugh (R-8), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and outgoing Chairman of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The contributions came from people associated with the Arizona-based consulting firm Public Policy Partners (PPP). PPP has several Arizona clients, but only two national clients -- Geo Group and Ron Sachs Communications, a Florida-based public relations firm promoting prison privatization. According to Kavanaugh's campaign finance report, PPP's owner, John Kaites, and his wife, Ann Peralta Kaites, have contributed to Kavanaugh's campaign as have PPP lobbyist Ken Quarterman and his wife, Laurie Quarterman. Other PPP lobbyists also gave Kavanaugh donations.

Kavanaugh is in charge of releasing the money for the pending private prison contracts. Geo Group obviously thinks it has the inside track on getting a big slice of that pie. Potential political corruption is yet another reason why prison privatization is a bad idea.

Source: Tucson Citizen

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