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.
As you might have guessed, GEO was donating to the commissioners' campaigns as well. Commissioner Jim Clark received $4,000, Charlie Riley got $1,500 and Craig Doyal was blessed with $15,500 from 2012 to 2016. Though these numbers may seem small in comparison to the federal donations, they are huge when you consider these are local elections.
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!