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Which Texas campaigns are receiving money from the private prison industry?

As Nicole posted earlie

r today, the private prison industry's backing of the controversial anti-immigrant law in Arizona received scrutiny from NPR and other sources today.

We thought I'd take a look to see which campaigns the private prison companies were donating to this campaign cycle.  Interestingly, over at the Texas Ethics Commission site, I could find no record of Corrections Corporation of America, the big giver in Arizona, donating any money Texas candidates this year. However, The GEO Group, perhaps the most troubled private prison corporation in Texas in recent years, donated plenty and spread its money around. The company has spent $23,000 total on Texas races, and $18,750 or more than 80% of that spending on Republican candidates.  Here's a breakdown:

Recipient Contributor Date Party Amount
Sen. Glenn A. Hegar Texas GEO Group Inc PAC 4/20/2010 Republican $500
Sen. Florence Shapiro Texas GEO Group Inc. 4/26/2010 Republican $500
Friends of Rep. John Zerwas Texas GEO Group Inc. PAC 5/06/2010 Republican $500
Texas House Leadership Fund Texas GEO Group Inc. PAC 2/22/2010 Republican $1,500
Rep. Phillip S. King Texas GEO Group Inc. PAC 3/01/2010 Republican $5,000
Sen. Stephen E. Ogden Texas Geo Group Inc. PAC 3/01/2010 Republican $1,000
Rep. Byron Curtis Cook Texas Geo Group Inc. PAC 2/10/2010 Republican $500
Rep. Armando A. Martinez Texas GEO Group Inc. PAC 2/25/2010 Democrat $250
Rep. Delwin Jones Texas Geo Group Inc. PAC 3/22/2010 Republican $250
Rep. Edmund P. Kuempel Texas Geo Group Inc. PAC 3/04/2010 Republican $500
David Sibley Texas Geo Group Inc. PAC 4/15/2010 Republican $1,000
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst Committee The GEO Group Inc. PAC 9/13/2010 Republican $2,500
Sen. John Whitmire Texas GEO Group Inc. PAC 1/25/2010 Democrat $1,500
Sen. John Whitmire The Geo Group Inc. PAC 10/21/2010 Democrat $2,500
Texans For Rick Perry The Geo Group PAC 9/03/2010 Republican $5,000

The only other private prison corporation to spend money on campaign contributions was Houston-based Cornell Companies, which was recently bought by GEO.  Cornell donated a total of $7,500 in 2010 to Texas candidates, with $5,000 or 66% of that going to Democratic candidates or Democratically-leaning caucuses:

Recipient Contributor Name Date Party Amount
TX Leg. Black Caucus Cornell Companies 6/09/2010 Leans Dem.
James M. McReynolds Cornell Employees PAC 8/02/2010 Democrat $1,500
James R Pitts Cornell Employees PAC 5/20/2010 Republican $2,000
Eduardo A. Lucio Cornell Employees PAC 6/29/2010 Democrat $1,500
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So what...

They're free to do as they please with their money...

At issue here isn't whether the elected officials are free to do what they want with, "their money"-- as you put it. At issue is the possibility that money from these companies may be shaping public policy. While I don't think it's fair to make the strong claim that the politicians are doing a quid pro quo, it seems plausible that the money from private prison companies is at least resulting in their increased access to our legislators. And when these companies buy access to legislators, they may be influencing public policy.

It seems these figures may not include individual contributions to state legislators from big-whigs at the companies, and they definitely do not include information about the lobbying that goes on. The money problem may be understated by this post.

I testified before WHitmire's commission on the horrible abuses going on in the state's prison rehab program, SAFP-F.  As soon as he discerned that I was not there to ask for more funding to be given to this "wonderful" program, but rather to uncover the abuses, he turned and began chatting with his buddies and completely ignored my testimony. It surprises me not a bit to find him on this list.