Private Prison Contractor Continues to Illegally Spend Millions in Elections: CLC Appeals Decision

Washington D.C.--Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a notice of appeal regarding the District of Columbia District Court’s dismissal of a CLC lawsuit challenging the Federal Election Commission's (FEC) delay in resolving CLC’s 2016 complaint alleging that private prison contractor GEO Group illegally donated over $225,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC through a subsidiary. The court erroneously held that CLC did not have legal standing to challenge the FEC's delay.

Meanwhile, CLC's 2016 complaint remains pending before the FEC, and in the absence of FEC action, GEO has continued to illegally buy influence with illegal six-figure contributions to super PACs.

Government contractors are not permitted to contribute to federal elections, a ban that has existed for over 75 years to avoid pay-to-play in the contracting process. Public officials are supposed to make contracting decisions based on what is best for the public, not based on who spent the most money getting them elected. GEO’s illegal donations have the appearance of a pay-to-play: since Trump was elected with GEO’s backing, the company has reaped enormous political and financial benefits, including a $110 million taxpayer-funded contract. Last year, GEO group secured two new contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, projected to increase their revenue by over $200 million.

According to CLC Trial Litigation Director Mark Gaber:

"Congress expressly gave complainants the right to sue the FEC if the agency unreasonably delays action on a complaint. The court's decision unreasonably rendered that provision meaningless for watchdog organizations like CLC, which is why we’ve appealed. GEO group’s continued political donations demonstrate the need for FEC enforcement to ensure that public policy is written with the public’s interest in mind, not to fatten the balance sheets of corporate donors.”

 CLC Federal Reform Director Brendan Fischer continued:

"Nearly four years after we filed our complaint alleging that GEO illegally gave six figures to a pro-Trump super PAC, the FEC still has not enforced the law, and at least for now, courts won't force the agency to do so. 

Meanwhile, as the FEC sits on our complaint, GEO continues to make unlawful contributions through subsidiaries, giving an additional $1.15 million to super PACs since 2017. The failure of the FEC to enforce the law has allowed wealthy special interests like GEO Group to reap the rewards of a rigged political system."