Friday, April 15, 2011


Steve Owen, a professional shill for CCA, recently went on record in the Columbia Tribune as saying that CCA had no role in crafting Arizona's SB1070 (The "Breathing While Brown" law), they don't engage in legislation involving criminal justice issues, and they didn't donate to any Arizona politicians in the 2010 election. All of which would be great, if he wasn't blatantly lying. I've already covered their influence on SB1070 through ALEC; here are two links to some of that.

Mr. Owen claims that CCA made no donations to Arizona politicians in the 2010 election cycle. However, four members of CCA’s executive board donated $140 each to Governor Brewer’s campaign. Damon Hininger, CCA’s President and CEO, and Executive Vice Presidents Brian Collins, Tony Grande, and Todd Mullinger all donated.

CCA also appears to have donated through two of its chief lobbyists, which hold influence in the Governor’s office. Brewer’s campaign manager and advisor, Chuck Coughlin, owns Highground consulting, which counts CCA among its clients. Chuck donated more than $3,600 to Arizona politicians during the 2010 cycle; hardly more than one percent went to Democrats.

Paul Senseman, Brewer’s deputy chief of staff and a former CCA employee, donated $640, all to Republicans. His wife Kathy is a lobbyist with the firm Policy Development Group, which also lobbies on behalf of CCA. Kathy donated more than $1900 in the 2010 cycle, with a little over 98% going to Republicans.

Why is it so important that all this money went to Repbulicans? Well, Mr. Owen specifically said, "Schlemeier (the author of an article he wrote in response to) did not report the fact CCA made no contributions to any Arizona legislator — supporter of last year’s immigration legislation or otherwise — in 2010"

SB1070 passed the House on a 35-21 party-lines vote, and the Senate 17-11 with all but one Republican voting for it. The bill was signed by Governor Brewer, another Republican, and who received hundreds of dollars from CCA executives. CCA’s lobbyists donated thousands more to Arizona Republicans in the 2010 cycle, so clearly some of CCA's money was donated directly to Arizona legislators who supported SB1070.

Finally, to address his lie of not engaging in legislation involving criminal justice issues. During much of the 90's CCA held a seat on ALEC's "Criminal Justice" Taskforce (now called "Public Safety and Elections"). This means they paid tens of thousands of dollars per year to hold one of a handful of authoritative positions on a subdivision of ALEC that worked on model legislation involving criminal justice issues. So clearly, they do engage, and they are still members of ALEC, though they relinquished the company seat in favor of having one of their lobbyists hold it (so it's harder to trace to them).

If you were alive during the 90s, you might remember a big wave of "tough-on-crime" legislation, maybe the most famous of which was "3-strikes" legislation that was enacted in over a dozen states, including California, where it has directly contributed to their having the most overcrowded, and second largest, prison system in the country. Guess who crafted that 3-strikes legislation. Yep, that would be ALEC. Guess who's got $600 million worth of contracts to house California prisoners. Did you guess CCA? Great work!

So CCA chaired the taskforce in which 3-strikes legislation was created, putting their stamp of approval on legislation guaranteed to raise the prison population. They then cashed in handsomely on their investment. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I really hate CCA.

PS - I submitted most of this as a letter to the editor refuting Mr. Owen's bogus claims, but the Tribune has not published it. I don't know if they will, but I'm not hopeful.

UPDATE: The Columbia Tribune did indeed publish my letter on Sunday, April 24.

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