For-profit prison, Rubio & $100,000: Who's invested in who?

Kevin Rutledge on February 20, 2015
After Florida Senator Marco Rubio learns he has received $100,000 from Florida-based private prison GEO Group, says "I don't invest in other peoples agenda, they invest in my agenda" at book signing in Iowa.

Senator Marco Rubio was very friendly and happy when talking with volunteer Shey Buckley during his book signing in Des Moines on February 13th.  Sen. Rubio’s reaction changed drastically when she asked how his stances on immigration changed, wondering if it was because of the $100,000 in campaign donations he’s received from the Florida-based private prison GEO Group.

Rubio appeared very surprised from the question as he asked “What group?” and “One hundred thousand dollars?  No, my stance is still the same.”

Yes, Senator. The same GEO Group that profits from the business opportunity of criminalizing immigrants, as The Nation reports:

“Take the GEO Group. In a country that has more prisoners than any other, this company makes$1.6 billion a year locking people up. GEO secured its market share by hiring an army of 72 lobbyists in 17 states and donating to over 400 candidates between 2003 and 2011. This lobbying paid off in the form of lucrative contracts to run 57 jails and prisons across the US.”

As Marco Rubio was leaving the bookstore through a side exit, I extended my arm and thanked him for coming to Iowa and told him I had a question on corporate policy.  It seemed like Rubio didn’t know how much money GEO Group gave him from the previous question, so I asked him if he could see how corporate money and influence from a private prison could affect his decisions as a Senator.  He didn’t agree and continued by saying “we still have to enforce the law.” 

I suggested how private prisons like GEO Group only want to invest in elections to profit from building more prisons and more immigrant detention centers, which doesn’t solve the problem.  Before Rubio’s staffer told him to leave, Rubio said “I don’t invest in other people’s agenda, they invest in my agenda.”

This brings up an interesting question.  Should private corporations that solely profit from government contracts and exploiting human beings in prisons or immigrant detention centers, such as Management and Training Corporation’s (MTC) “Criminal Alien Requirement” Texas prison where 2,000 immigrants revolted due to poor medical care and “uninhabitable” living conditions, be able to spend profits to invest in agendas like Senator Rubio’s or any other candidate to gain more political influence?

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Kevin Rutledge

Kevin Rutledge AFSC Governing Under the Influence Presidential Campaign Project

Kevin Rutledge is the Grassroots Education Coordinator with AFSC’s Presidential Campaign Project in Iowa.  Kevin has deep family roots in Quaker activism for peace and social justice.  A graduate from Iowa State University in Sociology and Criminal Justice, his previous work includes: United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) organizer, Public Citizen online organizer to overturn Citizens United, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, and a youth residential treatment facility.  Kevin hopes to one day return to Brazil and live by the beach.

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill .