Prison Legal News has long reported on the financial partnership between for-profit prison firm GEO Group and Florida politicians – a “legacy of corruption,” as detailed in PLN’s March 2011 cover story. GEO’s Political Action Committee (PAC) in Florida, where the company is headquartered, was disbanded in 2011 after a state audit found the PAC’s partisan contributions were in excess of the amount allowed by Florida law. [See: PLN, Feb. 2012, p.19]. More accusations of improper political influence were leveled against GEO in 2012 when the FBI looked into the relationship between the corporation and former Florida House Speaker Ray Sansom. [See: PLN, Feb 2012, p.34].
Despite this past scrutiny, on August 9, 2016 the Miami Herald reported that the GEO Group’s donations still continue to influence Florida policymakers. According to the newspaper, GEO has directed at least $288,000 to politically-connected committees operated by Rebecca and Joe Negron – a Congressional candidate and sitting state Senator known as a “power couple” in Florida politics. Another GEO Group political favorite is former presidential candidate Marco Rubio, to whom GEO donated $80,400 between July and August 2016 alone.
According to www.followthemoney.org, which tracks campaign contributions on the state level, from 2002 to 2014, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America gave over $5 million to Republican candidates and political groups in Florida. Perhaps that’s why GEO is receiving new contracts for reentry services in the Sunshine State as the company diversifies its operations in light of the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent announcement that it plans to discontinue privately-operated federal prisons. [See: PLN, Sept. 2016, p.28].
Sources: www.tampabay.com, Miami Herald, www.followthemoney.org
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