Is Stuffing Lucrative Private Prisons with Immigrants the Real Motive Behind SB1070?

By Michael Bryan

Channel 5 investigates and makes Governor Brewer flee in terror from their questions about links between her key advisors and the private prison industry.

Hat tip to Man Eegee for the video link.

0 responses to “Is Stuffing Lucrative Private Prisons with Immigrants the Real Motive Behind SB1070?

  1. We see this more and more with politicians not even answering simple questions from reporters or others.

  2. Thank you, Frank, for joining our conversation here. Great information for those of us pushing back.

  3. Feathered Bastard
    Jan Brewer’s CCA Money and Her Possible Conflict of Interest Over SB 1070
    By Stephen Lemons, Tue., May 18 2010

    Several months before signing SB 1070, Governor Jan Brewer accepted hundreds of dollars in “seed money” for her clean elections campaign from corporate executives and others with a possible stake in Arizona’s “papers please” legislation becoming law.

    In all, seven executives with the Tennessee-based private prisons giant Corrections Corporation of America contributed $980 for the governor’s start-up fund with Arizona’s clean elections system. A warden for one of CCA’s Arizona prisons gave $100. A CCA shareholder gave $140.

    Lobbyists listed with the state of Arizona as having CCA as a client gave another $560, for a total of $1,780. In addition, CCA has contributed a whopping $10,000 to the campaign for Prop 100, the one cent sales tax heavily promoted by Brewer, which is up for approval by voters today. The success of Prop 100 is considered by many to be the linchpin for a Brewer victory in November.

    How does CCA stand to gain from SB 1070? CCA, which houses 75,000 offenders and detainees in more than 60 facilities nationwide, operates six prisons in Arizona, three of which list U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a client: Florence, Eloy, and the Central Arizona Detention Center.

    If SB 1070 is not stopped by a federal court injunction before it goes into effect late July, as a recently filed ACLU lawsuit aims to accomplish, all Arizona law enforcement will be required to check the immigration status of those they have “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally. This, during any lawful stop, detention, or arrest.

    So the law could potentially mean a boon in warm bodies for CCA prisons, as those aliens turned over to ICE might find themselves in CCA facilities, even if for a short stay.

    “The more folks that get pulled over and detained, the more money CCA makes,” said Monica Sandschafer, executive director of the Phoenix immigrant rights group LUCHA, which stands for Living United for Change in Arizona. “It’s a pretty disturbing connection between Brewer and this company.”

    But Brewer campaign flack Doug Cole scoffed at the suggestion that there was anything nefarious about the connection between Brewer and CCA, referring to CCA as a “good corporate citizen” and denying that CCA’s contributions to Brewer in any way affected her decision to sign the controversial law.

    “People contribute to political campaigns, in my experience, because they want to be part of the process,” said Cole, speaking in general.

    “Oh, so we’re talking a thousand dollars here now,” he harrumphed at one point.

    Asked if the money might have influenced Brewer to sign SB 1070, he stated emphatically, “Absolutely not.”

    Todd Lang, executive director of Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections Commission contended that Brewer had violated no rules in taking the money from CCA, even if CCA stood to benefit from Brewer’s actions as governor.

    “Anyone can give to anyone,” said Lang of the so-called “seed money,” which is limited to a $51,250 cap. “The restriction Clean Elections puts in place is how little money those guys can give. The theory is that this restricts their influence.”

    Clean Elections holds contributors to the initial seed money fund to a $140 per person limit. Participating gubernatorial candidates must also raise thousands of $5 individual contributions. If they obey these dictates, they are rewarded with public funds: $707,447 for the primary campaign, and $1,061,171 for the general election.

    However, Sandschafer pointed out that each of the CCA executives and lobbyists in question gave the maximum amount allowed, save for the warden of the Eloy Detention Center Charles DeRosa, who gave $100.

    “These are the people who stand to profit from this horrible racist legislation,” Sandschafer asserted.

    CCA execs contributing to Brewer include the company’s top brass: Damon Hininger, CCA President and CEO; “senior administrator” Anthony Grande; Gustavus Puryear, at one time CCA’s general counsel; Todd Mullenger, executive VP and chief financial officer; and so on.

    Louise Grant, a CCA spokeswoman based in Tennessee, claimed that the contributions to Brewer, which were made in November of 2009, were not intended to influence public policy, and that the $10K contribution to the Yes on 100 fund, dated April 5, 2010, was made because CCA wanted what was best for its employees in Arizona.

    Grant also stated that under Brewer, CCA had lost two contracts with a total of 3,000 prisoners involved. She said that the main facility they use for ICE detainees is Eloy, the warden for which gave $100 to Brewer’s start up fund. She denied SB 1070 would be a good thing for CCA, or that CCA had any influence over the law itself.

    “CCA has had no involvement whatsoever with this legislation, SB 1070,” she said. “And we will not have any involvement with it.”

    She said the company had made no statement for or against the legislation.

  4. Tom Prezelski

    As usual, “Luv” over-simplifies the issue and misses the point. Those of us who have been against prison privatization have long argued that, among other things, that creating an industry whose profits suffer from policies that reduce crime and benefit from draconian (and often ineffective) laws, was going to poison the debate about issues of crime and punishment. While I was at the capitol, I never outright heard a lobbyist for the private prison industry come out against more sane policies with regard to criminal justice, but, given the fact that some of the state’s top lobbyists have taken on clients like CCA, it is difficult for any observer to dismiss the well-founded notion that they have influenced the discussion. Dora Schiro’s efforts to clean up the DOC and focus on rehabilitation and prevention (that’s what “corrections” is supposed to mean) were continuously stymied by the legislature, and every discussion about corrections policy became instead a discussion about further accelerating the privatization of the system.

    In short, the answer to Mr. Bryan’s question is a little muddy. The snippet linked here could merely be further evidence that the Governor is an inarticulate boob who is dependent entirely on staff rather than proof of a conspiracy. While one cannot directly connect SB1070 to any lobbying effort by the private prison industry, there is no question that their influence has shut down any reasonable conversation about how we deal with crime in Arizona. So, in other words, the power of this industry has created an environment where bills like SB1070 thrive. The issue that Mr. Eichenauer brings up is unlikely ever to be discussed by a legislative-lobbyist complex in which CCA’s profits are a bigger priority than public safety or justice.

    Further, it should be noted that the private prison industry has no bigger advocate in the legislature than Senator Pearce, the man who gave us 1070. This is not mere coincidence.

  5. Frank Smith

    This article is permanently archived at:

    Ties That Bind: Arizona Politicians and the Private Prison Industry
    A revolving cast of lobbyists and legislators blur the line between public service and corporate profits.
    By Beau HodaiJune 21, 2010

    This story accompanies Corporate Con Game, In These Times’ July 2010 cover story.

    Over the past several years private-prison companies Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the Geo Group, through their work as members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and through their ties to the Arizona Legislature and the office of Gov. Jan Brewer, have had ample opportunity–and obvious intent–to ensure the passage of S.B. 1070.

    According to Sen. Russell Pearce and Brewer’s spokesman Paul Senseman, the S.B. 1070 went through a lengthy edit and review process that took place predominantly within the Arizona Legislature and the offices of the Maricopa County Attorney and Gov. Brewer.

    A little over a week after Pearce introduced S.B. 1070 on the floor of the Arizona Senate, CCA enlisted Highground Consulting, one of the most influential lobbying firms in Phoenix, to represent its interests in the state. Lobby disclosure forms filed with the Arizona Secretary of State indicate that Maricopa County also employed Highground during the time of the bill’s formation. Highground’s owner and principal, Charles “Chuck” Coughlin, is a top advisor and the current campaign manager of Gov. Brewer.

    State lobby reports show that Brewer’s current spokesman, Senseman, previously worked as CCA’s chief lobbyist in Arizona as an employee of Policy Development Group, another influential Phoenix consulting firm. His wife, Kathryn Senseman, is still employed by Policy Development Group and still lobbies the legislature on behalf of CCA.

    In other words, in 2005 and 2006, as Arizona legislators–many of them ALEC members–were drafting provisions of what would eventually become the “Breathing While Brown” law, Brewer’s director of communications, Senseman, was lobbying them on behalf of CCA.

    Brewer’s “chief policy advisor,” Richard Bark–a man Senseman and Pearce both say was directly involved in the drafting of S.B. 1070–remains listed with the Office of the Secretary of State as an active lobbyist for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). CCA is a “board level” member of the ACCI and is the top employer in Pinal County, located just south of Maricopa County, where it operates five detention facilities for both state prisoners and immigrant detainees.

    Geo Group employs consulting firm Public Policy Partners, which, like Highground, also provides consultation and lobbying services to Maricopa County.

    While Public Policy Partners (PPP), an Arizona-based firm, has more than 30 Arizona clients, it only has two clients at the federal level: Geo Group (based in Florida) and Ron Sachs Communications, a Florida-based public-relations firm that, promotes prison privatization. PPP, as a firm, also appears to be an advocate for expanded use of private prisons. Federal lobbying records show PPP owner, John Kaites, lobbying on behalf of the firm on issues of “private correctional detention management.”

    CCA has also shown special interest in Arizona through recent hiring decisions. In 2007, CCA hired on Brad Regens as “Vice President of State Partnership Relations” for the purpose of cultivating new contracts in Arizona and California. In the two years immediately prior to his employment at CCA, Regens had worked in the Arizona House as director of fiscal policy. Before his appointment as director of fiscal policy, Regens had spent nine years working in the state legislature in various roles, including assistant director of the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

    Following its hiring of Regens, CCA elected former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) to its board of directors.

    Beau Hodai is a Red Lodge, Mont.-based freelance writer. He can be reached at

  6. Emerald Corrections, the Louisiana outfit that tried to build in Benson in 2004, is working with their old sleazy partners, Municipal Capital Markets and Corplan, the Texas hustlers who sold that illegal and poorly designed lockup to Hardin, Montana. The spec jail, a $27.4 million boondoggle probably worth half that, has been in bond default for 27 months and has been complete and empty for over three years. Last year they first tried to fill it with Guantanamo detainees, then tried to hand over the operation to a penniless California career con man.

    These characters are currently trying to build in Globe.

    The non-political American Friends Service Committee in Tucson is very knowledgeable on these issues. (520)623-9141

  7. Although that nutcase Kobach wrote much of 1070, at the request of Russ Pearce, he, Arpaio, Brewer and CCA are all in the same bed together.

    Arpaio has hired Kobach to supposedly train his goons to make stops that don’t appear to violate constitutional standards.

  8. My e-mail is on the front page of our website:

    The Private Corrections Working Group.

    How might I be of assistance?

    I’ve been very active this year in Arizona and seems to have stopped four for-profit prisons from being built in northern AZ, plus another in Benson and one is Quartzite.

    I’m presently working against one in Globe.

    The Benson prison was one proposed by the scam artists who conned Hardin, Montana, into building a jail in 2004-07. They also tried to build in Benson in 2004 when my late colleague Dee Hubbard, former PCI president, did the deed. I helped out a little with that.

    I helped stop a detainee prison in Sahuarita last year and in Dolan Springs the year before that.

    I’m also working against that snake Kris Kobach here in Kansas. Apraio came to help him at a fundraiser last week.

    Kobach wrote much of 1070.

  9. And thanks for remembering and holding people’s feet to the fire about the unjust death of Marcia Powell.

  10. We certainly agree on this, Thane.

  11. The Arizona prison system has traditionally provided jobs for government employees, some of which are justified and some of which are unneeded. Now that money and jobs might flow to Republican supporters a critical voice is heard. Arizona has far too many people in prison that should not be.

    Which candidates for governor for Arizona advocate that laws that imprison prostitutes be abolished?

  12. she cant ever answered what she’s being asked…

  13. The real motive behind the bill? Brewer didn’t write the bill. The SB1070 opposers are starting to reach.

  14. Need to contact Frank Smith from Bluff City, Kansas. He’s a researcher on private prisons. Comment frequently in Couldn’t pull up his email, but maybe you can.

  15. joe sandoval

    Great story! thanks.