As Biden promises to rein in private prisons, they're throwing money at Republicans - 2020-08-13
The election is nearly three months away, and the private prison industry has already shelled out more on the campaign than in any other year. Private prison PACs, employees, and their families have given more than $1.9 million to candidates and parties so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics—14 percent more than they spent in 2016. About 92 percent of those donations went to Republicans, also a record.
This prodigious election spending makes a lot of sense. Private prison companies have enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Trump administration as it has increasingly relied on for-profit prisons to hold immigration detainees. Last year, the two largest prison companies, the GEO Group and CoreCivic, counted on federal dollars for more than half of their revenue, according to their annual reports. And now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is inking long-term contracts with prison companies to detain thousands of immigrants beyond the end of Trump's presidency.
In an earnings call last week, CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger suggested that prison executives and the federal officials they work with are already anticipating various election scenarios including Democratic gains in Washington, DC. "We've had some conversations with folks in leadership and they're always obviously preparing potentially what happens in the coming days, weeks and months—with not only the pandemic but also going into 2021 and maybe some outcomes in Congress and the White House," Hininger told investors. "So they're preparing. And with that, working with us to prepare."