Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A guard at the Northwest Detention Center, which is operated by private prison corporation GEO Group, on contract from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Photo: Alex Stonehill)

A guard at the Northwest Detention Center, which is operated by private prison corporation GEO Group, on contract from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Photo: Alex Stonehill)

Guess Who Else Is Fundraising for Clinton: Private Prison Lobbyists

'It is bad for all of us when these multibillion dollar companies use their considerable financial influence to try to pressure lawmakers'

Sarah Lazare

In addition to Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is turning to lobbyists for the two biggest private prison companies in the country, Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, to raise money for her 2016 presidential candidacy.

Lee Fang of The Intercept made the discovery after examining Clinton's list of lobbyists who are bundlers for her presidential bid, released last week. Bundlers are people who raise money for campaigns by organizing and collecting contributions from other donors.

Among those funneling money into Clinton's campaign are:

  • Richard Sullivan of the firm Capitol Counsel, documented lobbyist for GEO Group.
  • Five employees of lobbying and law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which received $240,000 from CCA last year.
  • "Akin Gump lobbyist and Clinton bundler Brian Popper disclosed that he previously helped CCA defeat efforts to compel private prisons to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests," noted Fang.

Fang's reporting comes on the heels of revelations that Clinton's campaign has also benefited from the largesse of the fossil fuel industry and Wall Street.

Critics say the fresh evidence of Clinton's ties to lobbyists for the private prison industry raises a host of new concerns.

"The future of both criminal justice reform and immigration are critical for private prison firms," notes Fang. "The Geo Group, in a disclosure statement for its investors, notes that its business could be 'adversely affected by changes in existing criminal or immigration laws, crime rates in jurisdictions in which we operate, the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction, sentencing or deportation practices, and the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws or the loosening of immigration laws.'"

CCA and GEO have spent millions of dollars to press the U.S. government to impose harsher immigration laws that, in turn, spike corporate profits by driving up incarceration levels at their detention centers. Both companies stand accused of egregious human rights abuses at their facilities, from denial of mental and physical health care to inadequate nutrition.

"Private prisons have a long and well-documented history of giving to candidates of all levels and both parties and hiring lobbyists across the spectrum, so it doesn't surprise me that prisons are trying to get in good with presidential candidates," Cristina Parker of Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based organization that opposes prison profiteering, told Common Dreams.

"We already know that, in the immigration system, private prisons have a huge and outsized influence and they certainly don't need any more," Parker added. "It is bad for all of us when these multibillion dollar companies use their considerable financial influence to try to pressure lawmakers."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Citing Need for 'New, Inclusive Leadership,' Chuy García Files for Chicago Mayoral Race

"We have an opportunity to elect a trusted and experienced leader with a history of building coalitions and a vision for a brighter future for all Chicagoans," said the Democratic congressman.

Jessica Corbett ·


On Cyber Monday, Climate Activists Take Aim at Fashion Industry

"The fashion industry is one of the largest polluting industries globally. We can all do better, but it's on companies to make this industry better for workers, the planet, and consumers alike."

Jessica Corbett ·


Biden Accused of Selling Out Rail Workers by Urging Congress to Prevent Strike

"Biden is siding with corporate rail bosses over the rank-and-file workers who voted against this agreement," said one progressive commentator after the president urged lawmakers to take action to force through a deal without paid sick leave.

Brett Wilkins ·


Analysis Finds State Legislators Proposed 306 Bills Targeting Trans People in Past 2 Years

"Right-wing state lawmakers are obsessed with taking away the rights of trans people and we're obsessed with knocking them out of public office," said one rights group.

Julia Conley ·


Biden Mulls Sending Long-Range Missiles to Ukraine

While Ukrainians and supporters welcomed Boeing's proposal to arm Ukrainian forces with long-range precision-guided bombs, one anti-war voice accused the American military-industrial complex of "dictating the U.S. foreign policy and profiteering from wars."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo