ICE Building More Private Prisons For Immigrants!

First published on: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/04/ice-building-more-prisons-immigrants

Right on the heels of Jeff Sessions’ announcement that even non-criminals will now be charged with a felony and imprisoned for simply trying to find a job, ICE just announced they awarded The GEO Group with a brand new contract. The GEO group is one of the largest private prison corporations with seventy-four prisons,fifty residential re-entry facilities, sixty-one day reporting groups and twelve juvenile prisons. Thanks to all the money they shell out to politicians, they can add one more prison specifically designated for immigrants. This new facility is to be built in Conroe, Texas where it already owns and runs the Joe Corley Detention Facility that also houses immigrants and federal Marshall’s prisoners.

Federal pay for play using tax payer dollars

Private prisons have been dumping money into politicians’ pockets for years now. It’s nothing new. And all of that money, every bit of it, is taxpayer money. Over the last fourteen years, GEO alone has hired over 290 lobbyists costing over $11.5 million. Add to that another $7.5 million given directly to candidates and you’ve got a pay for play scandal. GEO maintains prisons all over the country, but their biggest political targets are in Florida and the southern border states.

But ever since the private prison industry got a whiff of former President Obama’s plan to no longer contract with them, The GEO Group has been working overtime lobbying congress. More to the point, lobbyist forms filed with congress show The GEO Group was specifically asking congress to allow them to incarcerate immigrants, and many of those forms list then Senator Jeff Sessions as their target. Trump had named Sessions as his pick for Attorney General as early as June of 2015 which would explain this sudden interest in lobbying him to use private prisons to incarcerate immigrants.

From July to December 2016, GEO spent $120,000 on lobbying Sessions. GEO also gave $215,000 to Trump Victory. None of this dirty money includes donations to various state parties or other congressional candidates, both Republican and Democrat or any dark money PACS. Overall, GEO spends roughly 85% or more with Republicans versus Democrats.

At least four former aides to Jeff Sessions have become lobbyists for Bradley, Arant et al, a firm hired to lobby for The GEO Group. Former Sessions’ aide, David J. Stewart, was the first to join in 2000. He was followed by David O. Stewart (legislative correspondent) in 2010, and Lloyd Peeples (counsel to Sessions) and Ryan Robichaux (legislative aide) in 2016.

As mentioned last week in my article concerning Sessions’ investments, the attorney general who is filling these private prisons owns stock in both The GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc, another private prison corporation. A link to the article can be found here.

Local Pay for Play

The mayor of Conroe, TX, Toby Powell, stated that there was no need for another private prison. As Jay R. Jordan from mysanantonio.com reported, Mayor Powell learned about the new prison from reading the local paper. But approval had been given back in 2013 by the Montgomery County commissioners after they had approved the sale of the first facility to GEO.

The three gringos, Clark, Riley and Doyal have a history of conflicts of interest and were even brought up on charges for violating Texas law against officials having secret deliberations in 2016. Fortunately for them, their fellow law makers said they could use campaign donations to pay for their defense attorneys. How convenient for them. The case is still pending though Doyal has now been elected to a local judgeship. The private meetings revolved around approving a $280 million bond for road improvements and new highways. Doyal specifically receives large donations from engineering firms and construction companies as he is fond of pushing through this type of legislation. So, it’s no surprise that he seconded the motion to give GEO another unnecessary prison as they gave him big money.

According to the mayor, GEO will still have to apply for permits and the facility though the opinions of the voters are not needed. But hey, who really gives a shit what voters think when they are making money hand over fist.

While we’re all busy working to pay our taxes, politicians are creating ways to fill prisons so they can give them more taxpayer money, that will in turn be given back to the elected officials to help them run their campaigns and defend them should they be caught breaking the law. And to think, all it took was giving millions of your taxpayer dollars back to elected officials for the law to be rewritten so that The GEO Group could then incarcerate more people and break up more families simply because they were looking for a better life. MAGA!

 

Does Sessions Own Stock in Private Prisons?

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Jeff Sessions, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51185110

On February 5, 2017, I wrote an article concerning the Trump Administration’s intentions to use private prisons for housing immigrants. Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that ICE would indeed house their detainees in these private prisons.

A policy of this magnitude doesn’t just happen overnight. We are literally talking about arresting and detaining over 11 million undocumented immigrants. Each deportation hearing will take anywhere from three to eighteen months or longer. That means lots of tax payer dollars will be needed.

The GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America), who have 85% of the private prison business, lobbied hard with Republicans and Trump in 2016. After President Obama announced the federal government would no longer use private prisons to house their inmates, these companies were in a panic to find clients to fill their jails. They found their mark in Republicans and Trump with their anti-immigrant rants.

In 2016, CoreCivic tended to spend its money in lobbying, though they never once listed the specific Congress members they lobbied. The GEO Group on the other hand, lobbied and gave directly to candidates and PACs.

The fact that our elected officials are taking money from prisons is beyond reprehensible. It is without ethics or morals, and I intend in future articles to dime out every single one of them. But for now, I will only list those related to the Trump Administration for the purpose of this specific argument.

Money to Trump:

The GEO Group gave $170,000 to the Trump Victory PAC, $5,000 to Donald J. Trump and $50,000 to Rebuild America Now PAC which supported Trump. They also gave over $300,000 more to various PACs that supported Trump as well as Republicans in general.

CoreCivic only gave $2,500 to a Republican PAC that supported Trump.

It is entirely possible and highly probable, thanks to Citizens United, that millions were given through PACs not required to show who their donors are, also known as “dark money.” It is also not known if Trump or family members have investments in these companies since they refuse to release their financial information.

2016 Lobbying money:

CoreCivic spent over $1.6 million lobbying Congress, while The GEO Group spent just over $800,000.

2016 Lobbying Contributions:

CoreCivic gave Donald Trump $250,000 to party with at his inauguration.

Money to Sessions:

As mentioned in my previous article, The GEO Group directly lobbied then Senator Sessions to the tune of $120,000. This was done through an Alabama law firm by the name of Bradley Arant Boult and Cummings LLP. This firm further gave Sessions a direct contribution of $7,500 for his 2014 race.

Additionally, Sessions took in a donation of $1,000 from the U.S. Immigration Reform PAC led by Mary Lou Tanton, wife of John Tanton. Tanton is the founder of the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group. The SPLC further states on its website that Tanton is a white supremacist and eugenicist. Julie Kirchner, former executive director of FAIR, is now the chief of staff at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency though it remains to be seen what experience if any she has in regards to this agency.

Finally, it is well known that the largest owner of both CoreCivic and The GEO Group stock is the Vanguard Group. They currently own 17.61% of The GEO Group and 15.75% of CoreCivic. And it just so happens that Sessions owns some of that stock. At least he did in 2015. This is the latest record he gave the Senate for disclosure. Seems he’s failed to report 2016. So maybe he could have sold it, but that remains to be seen. Updates regarding sales of his investments for 2016 are available, and Vanguard is not listed on any of them. Disclosures for the White House staff are of course unavailable. After all, if it’s good enough for Trump…

There are many Vanguard mutual funds, money markets, etc., and not all of them contain these private prison stocks. One that does is Vanguard Selected Value Inv. This fund, at last report, consists of 2.74% of The GEO Group stock or 2,054,900 shares. Attorney Jeff Sessions listed ownership of this stock in his 2015 disclosure report. He also reported that his wife owns the same stock.

So the question remains, are we going to let them get away with this?

All information is readily available on the FEC, Senate and House databases. Check it out before Trump makes it disappear.