Color of Change, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization, is in the midst of a national campaign to force the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee to sever corporate ties with a lobbyist for the private prison industry.
Color of Change wants CBC PAC to reorganize its board so new board members won’t accept funds from groups that advocate for private prisons, which Color of Change argues targets African Americans.
There are about 130 private prison companies and they have combined annual revenues of $3.3 billion.
The two largest are Corrections Corporation of America, which is based in Nashville, Tenn., and GEO Group, which is based in Boca Raton, Florida.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) who was seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for president before he dropped out the race, is closely associated with GEO Group, according to The Washington Post.
The CBC PAC said in a statement that it works to increase the number of African Americans in the U.S. Congress, support non-black
candidates that champion our interests, and promote African American participation in the political process.
Color of Change claims the lobbyists, some of whom are CBC PAC board members, are not working in the best interests of the black community.
“The lobbyists and corporate funders wielding influence over the CBC PAC represent the worst of the worst,” Color of Change wrote in an email to supporters. “Perhaps the most disturbing corporate funders of the CBC PAC are the lobbyists from the private prison industry. Ironically, both Democratic presidential candidates have shunned contributions from private prison lobbyists but the CBC PAC has taken thousands of dollars from Akin Gump, the lobbying firm that makes millions lobbying to protect their private prison client, Corrections Corporation of America, from increased regulation and transparency.”
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is an international law firm based in Washington, D.C. Its current and former employees are a who’s who of the of former Congressman, governors, cabinet officials and presidential advisors. Vernon Jordan, former advisor to President Bill Clinton and former head of the National Urban League, is one of the firm’s top officials. The firm employs 900 lawyers.
Color of Change added: “Private prison companies are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses, targeting black communities in America….” Over the past 25 years, CCA and GEO Group, the two largest private prison operators, have given $10 million to candidates and spent $25 million lobbying for laws that put more people in prison.”
In 2015, The Washington Post published an article headlined, “How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about.”