After Public Pressure, Clinton Swears Off Private-Prison Lobby’s Money

After Public Pressure, Clinton Swears Off Private-Prison Lobby’s Money

This morning, Hillary Clinton’s campaign told Fusion that she would no longer accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists or private-prison companies and said that her campaign will donate any previously raised money from private-prison lobbyists to charity.

As Jorge Rivas reports, the announcement comes after growing pressure from criminal justice reformers on Clinton and other presidential candidates to denounce the controversial—and politically powerful—industry.

Clinton had previously relied on lobbyists for private-prison companies as fundraising bundlers. In July, Lee Fang reported for The Intercept that one Clinton bundler who was a registered lobbyist with Geo Group—a company that operates a number of private jails and immigrant detention centers in the country—had raised $45,000 for her campaign. Another five bundlers were lobbyists at a firm that worked for Corrections Corporation of America, which is another infamous private prison giant.

Those two private-prison companies alone given more than $10 million to candidates and spent more than $25 million on lobbying since 1989. 

The private-prison industry has already become a surprisingly significant part of the presidential election. Republicans often tout the industry as a cost-effective solution to prison overcrowding while Democrats blast them for abysmal conditions for prisoners and pay-to-play influence over criminal justice reform.

Senator Bernie Sanders introduced legislation recently that would ban federal private prisons.

On the other hand, Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has long had close ties to the industry, and was the biggest Senate beneficiary of contributions from Geo. The company has already cut a $100,000 check to Rubio’s super PAC.