CLC filed a lawsuit on June 15, 2017 seeking to compel DOJ to disclose requested records that would gather information about how the DOJ reached its conclusion to rescind administration policy to phase-out private prison contracts and whether GEO Group's contributions to a Trump super PAC played a role in the decision. CLC filed the lawsuit because DOJ is unlawfully withholding these documents.
*UPDATE: The lawsuit was settled on December 7, 2017.
GEO Group is one of the nation's largest private prison companies. CLC is alleging that it made illegal contributions to a super PAC supporting Donald Trump prior to the 2016 Election. The group has since reaped enormous politial and financial benefits from these illegal contributions, most notably a new $110 million federal contract to build a 1,000-bed immigration detention center in Texas.
Here is a timeline of events:
- On August 19, 2016, one day after the Obama administration announced its decision to phase out federal private prison contracts like those held by GEO, GEO made a $100,000 donation to the pro-Donald Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now. GEO received 45 percent of its annual revenue from federal contracts, and in making this contribution, GEO violated the 75-year-old ban on government contractors making political contributions.
- On November 1, 2016, CLC filed a complaint with the FEC against GEO for making this $100,000 contribution, and the super PAC Rebuilding America Now, for accepting the contribution. The complaint alleges that GEO and Rebuilding America Now broke the law and the FEC must hold them accountable. If the FEC fails to take action 120 days from the filing of a complaint, complainants may sue the agency in federal court demanding action.
- On December 20, 2016, CLC filed a letter with the FEC providing additional evidence that GEO contributed another $125,000 to the super PAC Rebuilding America Now, one week before the November 2016 Presidential Election. This totals $225,000 in illegal contributions from GEO to Rebuilding America Now.
- On February 23, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo reversing the previous administration’s plans to phase-out the use of private prisons. On February 28, CLC sent a FOIA request to the Bureau of Prisons and Office of Inspector General at the Department of Justice (DOJ). CLC requested records of documents that mention “Rebuilding America Now,” to gather information about how the DOJ reached its conclusion to rescind administration policy to phase-out private prison contracts, and whether GEO contribution to the super PAC played any role in the decision. CLC was granted expedited processing for its FOIA request but has yet to receive any records from the DOJ.
- In April 2017, the Trump Administration awarded GEO Group a new $110 million federal contract to build a 1,000-bed immigration detention center in Texas.
- On May 22, CLC sent a final letter to the DOJ requesting it immediately share the documents requested by FOIA.
- On June 15, CLC filed a lawsuit demanding that DOJ respond to the FOIA request immediately.
Read our blog on the result of our FOIA Request.