Arizona’s not the only place where shills for the private prison corporations get appointed to positions of power. Despite a vigorous opposition campaign, the US Senate recently appointed Stacia Hylton as the head of the US Marshals Service. The Marshals Service handles security for federal courthouses, apprehends federal fugitives, and also oversees the detention of federal prisoners awaiting trial or immigration proceedings. Many of these detention centers are run by for-profit prison corporations like CCA and GEO Group.
The opposition campaign against Hylton’s nomination focused on conflicts of interest based on her acceptance of $112,500 in consulting fees from GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company, which has contracts with the U.S. Marshals to house federal detainees, and which obtained multi-million dollar contracts during Hylton’s tenure as the Federal Detention Trustee.
A month before she retired from her position as the Federal Detention Trustee in February 2010, Hylton formed a consulting company in Virginia. Following her retirement, her company (of which she is the sole owner) quickly accepted consulting work with GEO in regard to detention services and was paid $112,500.
For more information on the objections raised by the opposition coalition, visit Prison Legal News to view their press release on the issue: https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/350_displayNews.aspx
The situation is echoed here in AZ by Chuck Coughlin’s appointment as a senior advisor to Governor Brewer. Coughlin owns HighGround Public Affairs Consulting, a lobbying firm that represents about 20 clients, including Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). The relationship raised serious questions about Coughlin’s role in Brewer’s decision to sign SB 1070, which will, if fully implemented, send thousands of immigrants to detention centers run by CCA.
But the influence peddling doesn’t stop there. KPHO’s Morgan Loew reported in November that:
…HighGround’s client list nearly doubled after Brewer ascended to the governor’s office and brought Coughlin on board.
In addition, nearly one dozen former employees of Coughlin’s clients now have positions on boards and appointments to state government positions.
The list includes Mark Brnovich, who is the director of the state Gaming Department and the chairman of the Commission on Privatization and Efficiency. Brnovich is a former senior director at Corrections Corporation of America, which is a HighGround client.
Sherry Henry is the director of the state Office of Tourism. She’s a former hospitality manager with the Fiesta Bowl, which is a HighGround client.
Eileen Klein is the governor’s chief of staff. She’s the former chief operating officer of Physician’s IPA of United Healthcare, another HighGround client.
Richard Bark is the governor’s deputy chief of staff for policy. He’s a former attorney with the law firm of Gallagher and Kennedy, which is a HighGround client.