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Top Private Prison Lobbyists in Texas

Watch Your Assets, a new report from Texans for Public Justice and Grassroots Leadership on private prison oversight and effectiveness in Texas, contains some interesting data on the top private prison lobbyists in Texas, as listed here:

Texas’ Private-Prison Lobby in 2007

Lobbyist Client

Min. Value
of Contracts
Max. Value
of Contracts
Lionel Aguirre Geo Group
$200,000
*>$200,000
Ray Allen Geo Group
$50,000
$100,000
Scott Gilmore Geo Group
$50,000
$100,000
Jeffrey Heckler Geo Group
$50,000
$100,000
M. Edward Lopez Cornell Co’s
$50,000
$100,000
Demetrius McDaniel CCA
$50,000
$100,000
Michelle Wittenburg Geo Group
$50,000
$100,000
Lara Laneri Keel CCA
$25,000
$50,000
Andrea McWilliams CiviGenics
$25,000
$50,000
Dean McWilliams CiviGenics
$25,000
$50,000
Allen Place MTC
$25,000
$50,000
Michael Toomey CCA
$25,000
$50,000
Bill Miller Geo Group
$10,000
$25,000
April Seabaugh CCA
$10,000
$25,000
Daniel B. Mays CiviGenics
$0
$10,000
Robert Nathan CiviGenics
$0
$10,000
Merita Zoga CCA
$0
$10,000
Laurie Shanblum CCA
$0
$0
  TOTAL:
$645,000
$1,130,000
*Contract reported as “$200,000 or more.”

Texas requires that lobbyists report a minimun and maximum contract value for a given period, hence the range in potential lobbying expenditures. Two quick things pop out at me from this chart.

First, Ray Allen, the former Texas representative from Grand Prarie who chaired the House Committee on Corrections, and his former chief of staff, Scott Gilmore, are two of the biggest private prison lobbyists in the state. Gilmore and Allen took heat several years ago for working as lobbyists even while Allen was still a state representative. Allen was a major privatization advocate while a state representative and both he and Gilmore lobbyied, while in office, for the National Correctional Industries Association - a group that advocates for prison labor and includes private prison corporations amongst its members.

Second, the troubled GEO Group spent the most on private prison lobbying in 2007 and actually upped its lobbying expenditures after scandals forced state hearings into private prison oversight. According to the report:

With its starring role in the scandal, Geo Group increased its Texas lobby spending tenfold, accounting for more than half of the lobby money that the industry spent in 2007.

Texas’ Private Prison Lobby
Company
Max. Value
of Contracts In 2005
No. of Contracts
In 2005
Max. Value
of Contracts In 2007
No. of Contracts
In 2007
Geo Group
$60,000
3
$625,000
6
CCA
$180,000
5
$235,000
6
CiviGenics
$120,000
4
$120,000
4
Cornell Co's
$0
0
$100,000
1
MTC
$50,000
1
$50,000
1
TOTALS:
$410,000
13
$1,130,000
18
During the height of the Coke County scandal, Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire (D-Houston) excoriated the GEO Group for unleashing the lobby to convince legislators that the state had overreached in shutting down that facility. “Now enters GEO with their paid lobbyists attempting to put a good face on this,” Whitmire told the Dallas Morning News. “I’m saying the corporation should back off. They've run a very poor facility that probably violates the youths’ civil rights,” he said. “Kids were stepping in their own feces. The sheets were such that a cat or dog wouldn't sleep on them."

We'll have more on private prison lobbying and influence in the coming weeks, and will keep you updated on developments from the private prison lobby in Texas.

Comments

This list is good, but I would like to see some corresponding list, (or be liked to it if it exists,) of a the representatives and senators who are swayed by this lobby.

In the modern era, the United Kingdom was the first country in all of Europe to use private prisons to hold its prisoners. Wolds prison opened as the first privately managed prison in the UK in 1992