CLC Lawsuit Demands DOJ Provide Documents Relating to Private Prison Company GEO and Trump Super PAC

Jun 15, 2017
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While the FEC fails to enforce the law, private prison company reaps benefits of its illegal contribution to Trump super PAC

WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a lawsuit demanding that the Department of Justice (DOJ) turn over documents relating to the private prison company GEO Group and a super PAC that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence the 2016 presidential election.

In 2016, GEO illegally contributed $225,000 to the pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now. After President Trump was elected, his DOJ reversed the prior administration’s plans to phase out private prisons.

CLC has a pending complaint before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that GEO’s $225,000 contribution to Rebuilding America Now violated the prohibition on government contractors making political contributions, a 75-year-old law designed to prevent pay-to-play in the contracting process.

CLC also submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the DOJ to obtain documents that may shed light on what role GEO’s contributions played in the Trump Administration’s decision to resume funneling taxpayer dollars to private prison companies. CLC was granted expedited processing for its FOIA request but has not received any records from the DOJ, leading to today’s lawsuit.

“GEO made illegal contributions to influence the election, and now DOJ is refusing to release the documents that might show whether the Administration rewarded GEO for its illegal spending,” said Adav Noti, senior director, trial litigation and strategy at CLC, a former associate general counsel for policy at the FEC. “While we continue to wait for the FEC to hold GEO accountable, GEO seems to be reaping benefits from its illegal contribution, receiving a $110 million prison contract from the very same administration that is unlawfully withholding these documents.”

“GEO’s illegal six-figure contribution paid off with nine-figure taxpayer-funded contracts, creating the appearance or reality that government is for sale,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at CLC. “This apparent pay-to-play is only the latest evidence that a campaign system bankrolled by corporations and billionaires means that policy decisions are too often guided by the interests of big donors rather than the public interest.”

Prior to filing this lawsuit, CLC sent a final letter to DOJ on May 22, 2017 requesting the agency immediately share the documents responsive to the FOIA request.

Read CLC’s FEC complaint and follow up letter.

Read the lawsuit.

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