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Top 10 Prison Industry Lobbyists in the Lonestar State, 2013 edition


Last January, Piper revealed the top 5 private prison industry lobbyists in Texas in 2012: Lionel Aguirre, Michael Toomey, Frank R. Santos, Lara Laneri Keel, and Dean McWilliams. 

According to the Texas Ethics Commission's records for 2013, several of the aforementioned legislators have continued to lobby for the private prison industry, and several more names have come across our radar as well. 

1. Lionel Aguirre  

Aguirre received $25,000 from both Correctional Healthcare Companies, a private corrections healthcare company, and Correct Rx Pharmacy Services, which provides institutional pharmacy services. Aguirre also received $50,000 from GEO Group in 2013. Aguirre is registerd as a lobbyist for GEO Care, which claims to provide mental health services. He has served as a lawyer for GEO Group in the past and has and has received fat paychecks from them in recent years.

2. Tied: Lara Laneri Keel and Michael Toomey  

Keel and received $50,000 from the Corrections corporation of America (CCA) in 2013. In 2011 and 2012, Keel took $50,000-$100,000 from CCA. Keel is also a member of the Texas Lobby Group and the director of the Texas Conservative Coatlition Research Institute.

4. Michael Toomey 

Toomey received $50,000 from CCA in 2012, and is allegedly close to Rick Perry.

5. Frank R. Santos

Santos, who refers to himself as the top Hispanic lobbyist in Texas, received $50,000  from GEO Care, a division of GEO Group that operates state psychiatric hospitals for civil and forensic patients. GEO Group operates seven detention centers and twenty prisons in Texas.  

6. Dean R. McWilliams  

McWilliams received $25,000-$49,999.99 from Community Education Centers (CEC), the same company that operates the Polk County Detention Center in Livingston, TX. He held a contract with CEC in 2011 and 2012 for $50,000-$100,000, and is the co-founder of McWilliams Governmental Affairs Consultants. He is also proud of his service on the Legislative Budget Board Task Force on Health Care, as well as on the Lieutenant Governor's Task Force on Prison Overcrowding.

7. Allen Place 

Place, who is a newcomer to this list, received $25,000-$49,999.99 from Management and Training Corporation (MTC). According to the Texas Tribune Lobbyists Directory, Place has also received money from the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and the Texas Land Title Association. 

8. William J. Miller 

Miller received between $10,000 and $24,999.99 from GEO Care, a divison of GEO Group that provides mental health care. Williams is a government affairs consultant in Austin

9.  Gabriel G. Sepulveda 

Sepulveda, a consultant based in Austin, received less than $10,000 from the GEO Group in 2013. Goodman, also a consultant in Austin, also received less than $10,000. Goodman has also received money from the Juvenile Justice Association of Texas. 

10. Christie L. Goodman 

Goodman, also a consultant in Austin, also received less than $10,000 From GEO Group. Goodman has also received money from the Juvenile Justice Association of Texas, whose website is sponsored by Abraxas, a GEO Group company that operates juvenile facilties.

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Private prison corporations hiring well-connected lobbyists in Texas

In the wake of NPR's story that Corrections Corporation of America played a major role in writing Arizona's controversial "show-me-your-papers" immigration law, we posted a list of campaign contributions that private prison corporations made in Texas in the run-up to last month's election. 

Now that the election is over, we thought we'd take a look at who is lobbying for private prison corporations here in Texas.  This was of particular interest as it has also been reported that CCA lobbyists have been political advisors to Arizona governor Jan Brewer.

According to the Texas Ethics Commission, here is the list of lobbyists working for private prison corporations thus far in 2010.  It should be noted that lobbyists in Texas report a range of fees they may draw from their clients, thus the "Low" and "High" numbers. 

Company Lobbyist Name Low
CCA Lara Laneri Keel $50,000.00 $99,999.99
CCA Michael Toomey $25,000.00 $49,999.99
The GEO Group Frank R. Santos $50,000.00 $99,999.99
The GEO Group Luis E. Gonzalez $0.00 $9,999.99
The GEO Group Laura McPartland Matz $0.00 $9,999.99
The GEO Group
Lionel "Leo" Aguirre $200,000.00 $249,999.99
The GEO Group
William J. Miller $25,000.00 $49,999.99
The GEO Group
Michelle Wittenburg $25,000.00 $49,999.99
MTC Allen Place $25,000.00 $49,999.99
Avalon William G. "Billy" Phenix $0.00 $9,999.99
Avalon Walter Fisher $50,000.00 $99,999.99
Total   $450,000.00 $779,999.89

The overall number isn't as large as in 2007, but this isn't a year the legislature meets, so we'll probably see a ramp-up next year.

The GEO Group had by far the largest expenditures on state lobbying, spending between $300,000 and $470,000 already this year.  (Here, I've included figures reported by Cornell, which was the third largest private prison corporation until it was purchased by GEO this year).  More than half of that, and more than a quarter of all private prison lobbying money spent in 2010 in Texas, was paid to Leo Aguirre, the widower of Lena Guerrero, former Texas Railroad Commissioner.

Corrections Corporation of America spent less than GEO, between $75,000 and $150,000, but hired two powerful lobbyists in Mike Toomey and Lara Laneri Keel.  Toomey is a former state representative and chief of staff for two governors - Rick Perry and Bill Clements.  Keel married the cousin the cousin of former state representative Terry Keel. Both are lobbyists with the Texas Lobby Group.

Management and Training Corporation hired only one lobbyist in 2010Allen Place, a Gatesville attorney and former state representative chaired the House Committee on Jurisprudence during the boom in prison building the 1990s, was paid between $25,000 and $50,000 by MTC in 2010.

We'll keep you posted on how these expenditures affect legislation in the spring. 

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