Demand Marco Rubio Cut Ties with For-Profit Prison Industry

People from from around the world participate in a rally against private prisons held at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida. The rally was sponsored by United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

Target: U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate, Marco Rubio

Goal: Stop accepting campaign donation’s from the for-profit prison industry in exchange for favorable treatment.

The biggest recipients of political donations from the for-profit prison industry are Republican politicians in the South, in particular Marco Rubio. Rubio’s ties to the prison industry started when he was Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and hired Donna Arduin as an economic consultant.

Arduin was a former trustee for a GEO Correctional Properties Trust. GEO is the world’s largest private prison corporation. Arduin worked with Rubio’s budget chief to push through a $110 million contract for GEO which, along with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), has pumped over $10 million into political candidates since 1989 and spent $25 million in lobbying. Annual revenues for these two companies are estimated at $3.3 billion.

After Rubio won a U.S. Senate seat, he hired former lobbyist Cesar Conda as chief of staff. Conda co-founded Navigators Global, now GEO’s main lobbying firm. If those ties weren’t close enough, Conda continued to receive payments of $150,000 from Navigators Global after going to work for Rubio as part of a stock buyout agreement. Conda led Rubio’s PAC, then rejoined Navigators while GEO became a top contributor to Rubio’s PAC and Conda’s firm accepted $610,000 from GEO as its lobbying firm. Rubio has personally received almost $40,000 in campaign donations from GEO, which makes him the largest recipient of prison industry donations in the U.S. Senate.

Florida, Tennessee, and other states with large populations of undocumented immigrants are very valuable to the for-profit prison industry. Imprisoning immigrants and those convicted of non-violent drug offenses is very profitable. There’s so much money at stake that CCA’s Annual Report in 2014 included potentially adverse affects if leniency in parole and/or sentencing catches on. It should be no surprise to learn this industry is opposed to both lower minimum sentences for non-violent crimes and early release programs based on good behavior.

The profit motive should never be part of imprisoning people and presidential aspirants shouldn’t appear to make policy decisions in order to maintain ties with a for-profit industry. Tell Marco Rubio that if he wants to be President, he needs to break all ties with the for-profit prison industry and its lobbyists.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Rubio,

We are the most incarcerated nation on earth. With only five percent of the world’s population, we house 20 percent of the world’s prisoners. We have a for-profit prison industry with incentive for keeping occupancy levels high, which some people find shocking. In 2014, CCA’s Annual Report mentioned the potentially adverse affects of leniency on the prison industry because their sole incentive is making money off imprisoning people.

Your ties to the prison industry go back to your years in the Florida state legislature and they’re disturbingly close.  Cesar Conda, your Chief of Staff, is a co-founder of Navigators Global, now GEO’s main lobbying firm. Conda led your PAC, then rejoined Navigators while GEO became a top contributor to your PAC. Conda’s firm accepted $610,000 from GEO as its lobbying firm and you are the largest recipient of donations from the prison industry in the U.S. Senate.

A presidential candidate should not be associated with imprisoning people for profit. You must break ties with the for-profit prison industry.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: United Methodist Women

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