We covered this story back when it first aired on Phoenix Arizona's KPHO and Rachel Maddow did a fine job of reporting on it here as well. Arizona's tourism industry has taken a hit from the fear mongering out of the state's politicians, but the private prison industry is making a killing.
Between the economy and boycotts related to Arizona’s tough new immigration law, SB 1070, tourism in the state is down 10 percent.
They said state politicians are not helping matters. Just flip on cable news, and you’re likely to see an anchor or reporter talking about an invasion at the border, or headless bodies in the desert, or a rash of kidnappings.
During this election cycle, Arizona politicians have touted the potential danger of illegal immigration. Gov. Jan Brewer is one of the loudest voices.
She has made several statements to the national media, the validity of which CBS 5 Investigates could not confirm. The governor told one media outlet that almost all illegal immigrants are bringing drugs across the border. U.S. Border Patrol officials said that statement is false.
Brewer also said law enforcement officials have found decapitated bodies in the desert. Calls to all of Arizona’s border county medical examiners revealed no decapitated bodies have been reported to them.
A look at data from the FBI shows crime in Arizona is actually down. Murders in Phoenix have dropped by 50 percent since 2003. The violent crime rate across the state has dropped every year since at least 2004. Even the number of illegal border crossers is down. Border Patrol numbers show they are arresting half as many illegal immigrants as they did in 2004. [...]
In the meantime, a CBS 5 investigation revealed that there is one business that could gain from the implementation of SB 1070 and similar immigration measures. The private prison industry houses illegal immigrant detainees for the federal government. Those companies could gain contracts with state and local agencies to house illegal immigrants arrested for state violations.
Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, holds the federal contract to house detainees in Arizona. The company bills $11 million per month. CBS 5 Investigates has learned that two of Brewer’s top advisers have connections to CCA.
Paul Senseman is the governor’s deputy chief of staff. He is also a former lobbyist for CCA. His wife is listed as a current lobbyist for the company.
Chuck Coughlin is one of the governor’s policy advisers and her campaign chairman. Coughlin’s company, HighGround Public Affairs Consultants, currently lobbies for CCA.
Rachel talked to reporter Morgan Loew who filed that story for KPHO.