State Dem Party shuns private-prison donations*

Headquarters of the California Democratic Party in Sacramento. (Photo:

The head of the California Democratic Party says the CDP will no longer accept political contributions from private-prison corporations.

Party Chair Eric Bauman said any contributions received since May 21, 2017 would be “donated to organizations doing critical work to protect immigrants from the Trump administration or to support and rehabilitate recently incarcerated folks.”

Capitol Weekly reported this week that the CDP received more than $160,000 in contributions during 2017-18 from two private-prison corporations involved with Immigration & Naturalization Enforcement’s controversial detention program.

Of those contributions, $65,000 came in before May 21, 2017. The remaining $97,000 came in later.

In the 2017-18 election cycle, CoreCivic contributed twice to the CDP — $15,000 on June 22, 2017, and $5,000 on June 28, 2017. CoreCivic operates seven facilities in California, mostly county and city jails, and an ICE facility in Otay Mesa near San Diego.

The majority of private prison money was contributed by Florida’s GEO Group, which operates 47 California facilities, mostly inmate re-entry and retraining, plus ICE facilities in Adelanto and Mesa Verde.

Geo Group gave the CDP about $142,000 in four contributions – two on May 11, 2017, for $18,250 and $46,750, respectively — and two on May 14, 2018, both for $38,500.

Shortly before the Capitol Weekly story ran, Senate Leader Toni Atkins announced that she, too, would no longer take private prison money. Atkins also donated $12,000 to “four local non-profit organizations actively involved with immigration justice issues. “

Atkins’ staff said the $12,000 “exceeds the total amount of contributions Senate Leader Atkins has received from the private prison industry.”

But the San Diego Reader reported in January 2017 that Atkins received $10,200 from the Corrections Corporation of America of Tennessee (now CoreCivic) between 2011 and 2016.

Coupled with $4,200, the state senator received from The GEO Group and an additional $250 from CCA, Atkins received about $14,450.

Capitol Weekly also reported that prominent state Democrats such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a candidate for governor; state Sen. Bill Dodd, State Sen. Kevin de Leon, Assemblymember Phil Ting, and others have received contributions from the private prison industry.

Ting, D-San Francisco, and De Leon, D-Los Angeles, said they had donated their donations from private prison operators to worthy causes. There was no immediate response from the others.

*Ed’s Note: CORRECTS timing of donations 5th through 8th grafs to cover 2017 and 2018; deletes 3rd graf to conform.  


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