by Leah Carter, James Benedict, Madison Hogan and Paige Ferguson
On paper, Indiana has a strict cap on campaign contributions from corporations. But in practice, it’s easy for businesses to turn on the flow of money and get around the spending limits.
Contributions from executives, political action committees and subsidiary companies allow corporations to increase their impact well beyond the statutory limits.
GEO Group, Inc., the Boca Raton, Florida-based private prison firm, is a good exemplar of the issues surrounding the regulation and reporting of corporate campaign contributions in Indiana.
The company, which is the largest private prison operator in the world, has contracts to run two Indiana Department of Correction facilities (a total of more than 4,000 beds in New Castle and Plainfield) and was pushing to open an immigration detention center in Gary until the city council rejected the idea in May 2016.
GEO began contributing to top state officials, including former Governor Mitch Daniels and House Speaker Brian Bosma, in 2004. It received its first Indiana contract the following year, and as its business here grew, its campaign contributions increased as well. From 2011 to 2015 (the most recent full year of data), GEO and its various ...