The Supreme Court has decided on SB1070 and it appears that little by little the most aggressive anti-immigrant legislation created in U.S. history is being dismantled. It was born in a laboratory called Arizona and was carefully nurtured in a bright white petri dish branded with the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) logo and bought and paid for by the giant private prison industry.
The masterful art of taking the fear of others who don’t look like you, who talk different than you, perhaps maintain different customs, coupled with the outright racism of others, the ardent desire to preserve the white race by yet others, and profiting from that fear by cashing it into votes and laws is impressive. The concept is basic, yet Machiavellian and diabolical. You scare the hell out of the voters with fictitious talk of decapitated bodies in the Arizona desert and an alleged invasion of this country using key elected officials like Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona and ex Arizona state senate president Russell Pearce, and you end up with a terrified voter willing to cast their vote over and over for those who they think will protect them from this “invasion.” But why would these politicians be so hell bent on using the immigrant as their whipping post? Simple, they love the title and the power that comes from holding an elected position. Senator X, Legislator Y, the Honorable Z, etc. It commands respect and grants you unbelievable power, and we all know what happens when you allow power to swell your head. As Lord Acton put it, “Power corrupts, and absolute power, corrupts absolutely.”
That’s exactly what’s happened to Arizona’s politicians. The whole lot of them! After all, most of those politicians supportive of SB1070 took money from the private prison industry.
There is big business at play here. What we’re looking at is a multi-billion dollar business that is simply not going to go away. These private prisons are here to stay. It falls right in line with the privatization of our education system and our health care system. Perhaps even the social security system at the rate the Republican controlled congress is headed.
To give you an idea of the impact the private prison industry has had on the political landscape, I’ve taken a section from an AZ Central article that thoroughly explains it.
The nation’s largest and oldest corrections company, CCA runs more than 60 prisons and immigrant-detention centers across 19 states and the District of Columbia. It has by far the largest political footprint of the dozen or so companies that operate private prisons in the U.S.
CCA has spent about $17.6 million lobbying Congress and federal agencies over the past decade, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks the effect of money on U.S. politics. The agencies include the Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, which contract with private operators such as CCA for immigration-detention centers.
Thirty of CCA’s 35 lobbyists on Capitol Hill previously worked for members of Congress or for federal agencies. Two CCA senior executives are former directors of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, including Harley Lappin, whom CCA hired in June as chief corrections officer a week after his retirement from the bureau. CCA is a major bureau contractor. Another CCA vice president, Bart VerHulst, previously worked as chief of staff for then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.
Since 2000, the company has won $3.84 billion in federal contracts, including just under $546 million for federal contracts in Arizona, according to government records. CCA’s six prisons in Arizona hold inmates from other states, federal prisoners and immigration detainees. Its bid calls for moving out prisoners from Hawaii and California at its existing Red Rock and La Palma prisons in Eloy and moving in Arizona prisoners.
CCA lobbies heavily on the state level, employing 178 lobbyists in 32 states over the past eight years, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan group that gathers lobbying and campaign-finance data.
In Arizona, the company has cultivated high-level connections. Former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini sits on CCA’s board of directors. Perhaps the highest profile among CCA’s 22 registered lobbyists in Arizona belongs to Chuck Coughlin, president of HighGround Public Affairs Consultants and a senior political adviser to Gov. Jan Brewer. Besides CCA, HighGround’s 23 lobbying clients include Maricopa County and Salt River Project.
Coughlin served as chairman of Brewer’s transition team when she took office in 2009 and as her campaign manager in 2010. He also has managed election campaigns for Senate President Russell Pearce.
Other heavy hitters with ties to CCA include Paul Senseman, a lobbyist with Policy Development Group, who served until last fall as Brewer’s spokesman and whose wife, Kathryn Senseman, lobbied for that group while he worked for Brewer; and Bradley Regens, who joined CCA in 2007 after nine years as an Arizona legislative staffer, including two years as director of fiscal policy for the state House of Representatives.
Brewer has advocated for privatizing Arizona prisons. But even other privatization supporters say her CCA connections raise red flags.
“I’ve questioned Brewer’s choice of staff in the past for the same reason; she has a lot of contract lobbyists, and I have a problem with that,” said Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City. “At the very least it gives the public the appearance that these companies have too much influence, and you have to wonder what’s going on when they leave Brewer’s office and go right back into lobbying.”
Brewer’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Since 2003, CCA employees and affiliates have given nearly $2 million in campaign contributions to state-level candidates and ballot issues across the U.S.
In Arizona, CCA associates and its political-action committee have reported giving about $35,000 in political donations over the past decade to Brewer, Pearce, former House Speaker Kirk Adams, House Speaker Andy Tobin and many others. A big chunk of that, $11,520, was given for last year’s election campaigns.
Arizona lobbying firms that represent CCA made about $35,000 in political contributions in the 2010 election cycle. Whatever influence contributions may bring, they are wielded on behalf of many clients.
Given the recent Supreme Court decision on SB1070, President Obama’s executive order regarding the Dreamers, The fact that ICE pulled the 287g certification from 7 law enforcement agencies, including the one previously granted to the Department of Public Safety, and to add insult to injury, ICE made it very clear that they would not pickup anyone suspected of being in the country unlawfully unless they had committed a felony.
It’s obvious that the private prison industry is being dealt a serious financial blow. The less undocumented immigrants captured and detained in CCA’s prisons, means a smaller invoice that can be tendered to the Feds for incarceration of individuals who the states feel is the Feds responsibility. This is shocking to me given the amount they spend on lobbyist. Does this then come down to a war behind the scenes that hasn’t been exposed by the media? The Obama administration has to be aware that they are dealing the private prison industry a big financial hit. The private prison industry has to have voiced their opposition to this administration’s recent immigration policy, and it’s applications.
The question remains, how will CCA and Geo Group, the two largest private prison industry purveyors explain the dramatic loss in revenue to their investors? Will CCA and Geo Group take advantage of Citizens United and get behind Romney with substantial backing for the Super PACS in the hopes that a President Romney would reverse these executive orders?
Allow me to float an idea that the general populous should be very concerned about. These private prisons that have traditionally held what many call “illegal aliens”, may soon be holding your brother, your sister or your neighbor. We could soon see harsher penalties for crimes committed, longer prison sentences, and, there’s a great likelihood that those sentences will be carried out in private prisons. To quote the AZ Central story, “CCA lobbies heavily on the state level, employing 178 lobbyists in 32 states over the past eight years.” I ask, what do you think they’re going to do with an army of lobbyists when the amount of immigrants they have been incarcerating diminishes? It’s obvious that state legislatures will be lobbied for specific laws with harsher penalties creating a new breed of prisoner.
I don’t think CCA and Geo Group, really care about the color of your skin, they just care about filling their jail cells for profit.
I imagine there’s a lot of disappointed investors, legislators, racists, xenophobes, white supremacists. They all had their personal reason for supporting SB1070, and they all worked in tandem to ensure it’s preservation, but in one fell swoop on June 25, 2012 they all took a serious hit from SCOTUS and the Obama administration.
Carlos E. Galindo is a radio talk show host & political analyst conducting radio shows in both English and Spanish on four radio stations in Arizona. Mr. Galindo is a weekly contributor to KPFK 98.7 FM Los Angeles and W60 AM Radio, Los Angeles, San Diego and has appeared on CNN, Univision and Telemundo as a political analyst. Mr. Galindo is also an Op-Ed columnist on Prensa Hispana and the Tucson Citizen in Arizona. Carlos Galindo is President and founder of the Immigrant Advocacy Foundation, Inc.