Immigration reform may yet be a millstone around presidential hopeful Marco Rubio’s neck, Politico speculated today.
But nothing Rubio has suggested would win him anything but bouquets from Florida-based GEO Group, the prison management company. It has already showered him and his chief of staff’s former lobbying firm with cash.
GEO bristles at the suggestion that it lobbies for any law that would impact the number of prisoners jailed or immigrants who might be detained.
But it does give to lawmakers who do.
Rubio got $29,700 from GEO and its executives for his Senate run and another $5,000 for his PAC.
Then, once in Washington, Rubio named lobbyist Cesar Conda his chief of staff.
Conda continued to accept money from the lobbying firm he co-founded, part of a payout arrangement blessed by Senate ethics advisers.
And Conda’s former lobbying firm quickly started accepting money from GEO. Within months of Conda’s appointment, GEO hired the firm, paying it $100,000.
The next year, GEO boosted payments to $120,000, about the same time Rubio’s support of a border security bill that would almost certainly have grown the number of immigrants in detention.
Conda and Rubio’s office shrugged this all off back in 2013, when The Post was asking questions. It wasn’t important enough for them to answer.
It probably still isn’t, what with a presidential campaign heating up.
But it’s worth noting that Rubio’s major immigrant reform ideas, which for now seem to focus on such things as people who overstay visas and beefing up border security, also would lend themselves to increased detention.
For a look at where GEO puts its dollars – more than five million of them – Follow The Money provides its analysis here.
Allegations of substandard inmate conditions at facilities run by GEO and its competitor CCA, including immigrant detention facilities, were detailed by The Post in 2013.