Florida State Senate receives thousands from For-Profit Prisons

VIA Grassroots Leadership This week’s inductee into the Humpday Hall of Shame is Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos(R – Merritt Island).  Haridolopos is a major proponent of an effort sailing through the state legislature to hand over control of 29 south Florida prisons to private prison corporations.  Haridopolos claimed in a recent press release that “privatizing prisons is exactly the kind of common sense solution we must choose.”

Turning over control of 29 Florida prisons to private prison corporations doesn’t seem very “common sense” to us.  So, we decided to follow the money.  Our research shows that Haridopolos’s dedication to prison privatization may have less to do with common sense and more to do with private prison donations to his campaigns.   According to a search at InfluenceExplorer.com (which combines the excellent state-level research of FollowtheMoney.org with federal records at OpenSecrets.org), Haridopolos has received at least more than $67,000 in campaign contributions from private prison corporations since 2009.

GEO Group executives and lobbyists, including those from states other than Florida, have been pouring money into Haridopolos’s campaign coffers.  According to the data we looked at, Haridopolos received $35,500 in campaign contributions from GEO Group executives in 2010 and 2011.  Haridopolos’ GEO ties don’t end there.  He received an additional $1,431 from Jorge Dominicis, head of GEO Group’s health care subsidiary GEO Care, and $5,000 from Mr. Dominicis’ wife, Virginia, in 2011.

GEO’s lobbyists have also pitched in to help Haridopolos.  Between 2009-2011, Haridopolos received $5,900 from GEO lobbyists associated with  Johnson & Blanton, a Tallahasee based company employed by GEO Care.  Larry J. Overton, another lobbyist for GEO Care, donated $3,500 in 2010.  Lobbyists associated with Roland L. Book PA donated another $10,800. He also received $2,000 from Texas-based GEO Lobbyist Lionel Aguirre in 2011 and  $2,000 from Arizona-based GEO lobbyist John Kaites.

Haridopolos has also received $500 from Corrections Corporation of America in 2009, and $500 from LCS Corrections.  As we reported last week, in 2010, The GEO Group and its staff made more than $700,000 in political contributions in the Sunshine State while CCA contributed $138,994.

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