The massive private prison corporation GEO Group held an annual executive meeting at the Trump National Doral in Florida last week in the group’s most recent attempt to curry favor with the current administration.
GEO and its subsidiary, GEO Corrections Holdings donated a total of $475,000 toward President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. This is the first time GEO has used the Trump resort for their annual conference since the real-estate mogul purchased the property in 2012. The group also enlisted the help of two former aides to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a Trump fundraiser as outside lobbyists.
“They have to lobby and curry political favor because that’s what their business model is based on,” Alex Friedmann, associate director in the prison advocacy group Human Rights Defense Center told WaPo.
The group is currently under litigation from the Federal Elections Commission regarding its campaign contributions in 2016. The company claims the donations totaling $732,000 was legal because many of the donations went through its subsidiary. The total is four times larger than its donations in the last presidential election cycle and 87 percent of the funds reportedly went toward Republican candidates.
So far, the Trump administration has proved friendly to private prisons, despite the industry receiving heavy criticism from both sides of the aisle over its potential for predatory practices. Under former President Barack Obama’s administration, GEO’s stock prices plummeted as the Justice Department (DOJ) sought to phase out federal use of private prisons, but the company has found great success under Trump.
The group’s stocks prices have reportedly tripled since it received this administration’s first contract for an illegal immigrant detention facility. The group has nevertheless skirted any claims that its usage of Trump’s golf resort is anything other than a coincidence.
“Over the years, we have held company and employee meetings at a variety of venues around the country,” GEO said in a statement. “And as a Florida-based company, we have held meetings throughout the state, including at Doral.”
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