Private prison lobbyists serving as bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Hillary Clinton was the first 2016 candidate to discloser her list of bundlers, shorthand for lobbyists who raise cash for candidates and are normally rewarded with ambassadorships or other considerations. She currently has 159 of these bundlers, and giving journalists plenty of names to scrutinize. As the Huffington Post reported when she released the list of names:

One notable bundler is Gordon Giffin, a former lobbyist for the Canadian company working to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Giffin is also on the board of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which paid Clinton $990,000 for speeches she gave immediately before announcing her presidential campaign.

Today, Lee Fang at The Intercept reported that a number of these bundlers are either lobbyists for or lawyers hired by lobbyists for the private prison industry.

Richard Sullivan, of the lobbying firm Capitol Counsel, is a bundler for the Clinton campaign, bringing in $44,859 in contributions in a few short months. Sullivan is also a registered lobbyist for Geo Group, a company that operates a number of jails, including immigrant detention centers, for profit.

As we reported yesterday, fully five Clinton bunders work for the lobbying and law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. The Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in America, paid Akin Gump $240,000 in lobbying fees last year. The firm also serves as a law firm for the prison giant, representing the company in court.

Akin Gump lobbyist and Clinton bundler Brian Popper disclosed that he previously helped Corrections Corporation defeat efforts to compel private prisons to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests.

Given Hillary Clinton’s record on criminal justice, the funds coming from the private prison industry are hardly surprising. Clinton championed her husband’s tough-on-crime agenda in the early ’90s, advocating “three strikes and you’re out” sentencing laws and larger police forces. As Fang noted, Clinton has made a number of moves to the left on a number of criminal justice issues since launching her 2016 bid, but recently indicated that she is willing to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” a move that would lead to more immigrants detained in the very private prisons that are raising money for her campaign.

Those prisons are likely to lobby a President Clinton heavily in opposition to any changes to our nation’s criminal justice or immigration systems. As Fang highlighted:

Geo Group, in a disclosure statement for their investors, notes that their business could be “adversely affected by changes in existing criminal or immigration laws, crime rates in jurisdictions in which we operate, the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction, sentencing or deportation practices, and the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws or the loosening of immigration laws.”

Hillary Clinton, via Brett Weinstein / Flickr

Hillary Clinton, via Brett Weinstein / Flickr

Keep in mind, this is an entirely different kind of fundraising tie than it would be if a lot of people who happened to work in the private prison industry went online and submitted independent donations to the Clinton campaign. As bundlers, these private prison lobbyists are, for all intents and purposes, parts of Clinton’s campaign infrastructure. They aren’t just hoping for a return on their investment; they’re expecting one.

Ties like these are one of the reasons why the meta-debate within the progressive movement about Bernie Sanders and economic progressivism’s relative exclusion of voices of color is so frustrating. The progressive movement spent the beginning of this week locked in a Very Serious Debate over whether Sanders has a race problem, while Hillary Clinton was able to avoid any serious criticism about her record on racial justice by writing #BlackLivesMatter in a Facebook post. So, yes, Sanders needs to change his style to be a better around the margins, but his slip-up at Netroots pales in comparison to Clinton’s active attempts to raise money from an industry that profits from perpetuating institutional racism.

By cheering Clinton’s rhetorical nod to the social justice movement and ignoring her ties to industries that directly undercut it, we are effectively telling her that talk isn’t cheap; it’s clearly valuable enough to buy our sympathies.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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37 Responses to “Private prison lobbyists serving as bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign”

  1. reallysearching says:

    This one gets removed; if it’s not there, search at youtube for The Clinton Chronicles:

  2. reallysearching says:

    Tsk tsk — more flies with honey ;)

  3. reallysearching says:

    Not sure I get what you’re saying here; kinda sounds like you’re saying that since we haven’t put a check on corruption in the past, we shouldn’t put a check on corruption now.

  4. reallysearching says:

    Perhaps they should learn then, considering we vote for *them* to represent *us*, which still can’t stand up to paying them to represent corporations, but the fact that they don’t actually know how to do their job only means they should not have their job.

  5. Indigo says:

    You can enhance your credibility with correct capitalization.

  6. AliceOfForethought says:

    questioning the motivations of a candidate who has received a ton of money from private prison interests yet who talks of ‘prison reform’ when it benefits her is not sanctimonious. you make like this is some kind of witch hunt and everybody knows someone who gets private prison money, and that it’s impossible to be in politics without it. the criticism is completely germane and warranted. hillary is as bought by moneyed interests as any of the republican candidates, and only pays lip service to progressive causes when it’s convenient for her. she’s been fed to the left as the foregone conclusion since 2012, and it’s absolutely pertinent to question if she’s really the right person for the job. lying for money points to ‘no’ for a lot of people. maybe not for you, but you’re clearly a special case.

  7. cambridgemac says:

    Lobbyists as a class are perhaps a necessary evil and commerce between them and politicians may be unavoidable at present. But certain industries and companies actually ARE evil. Monsanto comes to mind. And private prisons. This is sad.

  8. Indigo says:

    Newt Gingrich? Oh, no! How awful for you.

  9. Judas Peckerwood says:

    But she turned me into a newt! (I got better)

  10. kendra.tindell says:
  11. Silver_Witch says:

    Thanks for getting this out there Jon…not that I intended on voting for HRC, now I have an even better reason for not supporting her. Prisons are a waste of human souls and devastating to families and SOOOO unfairly used that they should be illegal and all Prison immediately sent to Rikers Island.

  12. PDR says:

    How would Congress function? They know jack squat about crafting legislation.

  13. 2karmanot says:


  14. Marialewism says:


    Top PickPOint Of Success ::1:: @7se9




  15. Indigo says:

    Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Let’s also hope the Puritans put away their pillory stocks and drain the dunking pond.

  16. Indigo says:

    Interesting catch phrase. Please translate into paragraphs of explanatory prose.

  17. nicho says:

    And you think we would have learned from that fiasco.

  18. nicho says:

    We would have a more honest government.

  19. 2karmanot says:

    We once said that about our first black Presnit.

  20. 2karmanot says:

    # Snark snark and if that goes over the head try # irony.

  21. 2karmanot says:

    It’s time to consult Betty Bowers, America’s best Christian.

  22. 2karmanot says:

    Excellent article Jon. The creeping institutionalizing of slavery known as ‘privatizing’ the prison systems has been underway for some time now. Nobody did it better than former governor Jan Brewer, who worked the illegal immigrants phenom for all the lucre she could muster.

  23. PDR says:

    Lobbyists represent their clients. Just as criminal defense attorneys defend rapists and mass murderers, no one expects them to endorse their clients actions.

    BTW what would happen if lobbying were banned?

  24. PDR says:

    “This is all so horrifying because no past president has ever come under the sway of the monied interests?”

    Your naiveté is astounding.

  25. nicho says:

    Sounds like her money grubbers are going to be the least of her problems. Inspectors general from the State Department and the intelligence agencies are asking for a criminal investigation into her home-brew email servers. This could suck some oxygen out of the atmosphere.

  26. nicho says:

    Then, let’s just elect Scott Walker and drop all pretenses to the contrary/

  27. Bill_Perdue says:

    Good stuff, Jon. I hope it gets reprinted if HRH HRC wins the nomination.

  28. newbroom says:

    OK…Keystone? Private Prisons? What? No Pharmaceutical money? I am all for women’s rights, really, I am. I know that in today’s and yesterday’s political atmosphere that elections and candidacies cost huge sums (and this is wrong), but this confirms my suspicions of why main stream media had awarded Hillary the nomination within a week of Brother Barry”s re-election. I’d have voted for Howard Dean from Vermont. I love maple syrup and I’m a huge fan of Bernie Sanders.

  29. Indigo says:

    This is all so horrifying because no past president has ever come under the sway of the monied interests? I suggest a less preacherly assessment of campaign financing, a firm grip on the reality of expenses in this wicked world, and an approach that considers reputable alternatives to the existing melee. Sanctimonious condemnations are best left to the adherents of the Westboro Baptist Church and their admirers.

  30. hidflect says:

    That woman has hung a “bid for me” tag on every policy position conceivable. The unacceptable face of politics wears lipstick

  31. nicho says:

    But we need to put a woman in the White House because . . . because .. I guess because we haven’t had one before. Who cares what she stands for, what she believes, who she represents, and who she’ll sell out. Novelty trumps everything.

  32. Bill_Perdue says:

    Democrat and Republican candidates are paid tools of the rich. They always lie about that. Each pretends to be a genuine ‘lesser evil’ who has the best interests of working people in mind.

    That includes HRH HRC and BS and all the Republican candidates.

    As paid tools everything they say is aimed at getting them elected and cannot be taken any more seriously than the utterances of people selling used cars or gadgets on TV.

  33. Indigo says:

    There’s a rug. Here’s the broom. That’s how it going to play. I’m sure of it.

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