Alexander, Corker, Haslam top TN politicians in collecting contributions from CCA

The Chattanooga TFP has a report on the ACLU’s campaign of criticism directed at Corrections Corporation of America (previous post HERE), including some figures on poltical donations in Tennessee, where the company operates six facilities.

In 2011, Takei wrote, CCA gave $710,300 in political contributions to candidates for federal or state office, political parties, and 527 groups (political action campaigns and super-political action campaigns). That same year, CCA spent $1.07 million lobbying federal officials and an undisclosed amount lobbying state officials.

(Note: In Tennessee, CCA has eight lobbyists registered this year, according the Tennessee Ethics Commission website. It it’s last two lobbying reports, each covering a six-month period, CCA reported spending between $50,000 and $100,000 on lobbyist compensation, meaning the total for a year is between $100,000 and $200,000.)

Five Tennessee politicians are among the top 10 individuals who received the most contributions from CCA’s employees, their family members, and the company’s political action committee, according to the Influence Explorer, a website that’s a project of The Sunlight Foundation, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government globally and uses technology to make government more accountable to all.”

The foundation reported the following Tennessee politicians receiving the following amounts starting as early as 1993 through 2013:

• U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, $63,450
• U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, $51,450
• Gov. Bill Haslam, $43,575
• Former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, $26,000
• Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, $25,400

At the federal level, CCA has spent $131,900 on political contributions since the start of 2013.Some of that went toward Tennessee politicians. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., received $5,000; Rep. Steve Fincher, R-Tenn., got $1,500; Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., accepted $1,250; and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., was given $1,000.

Here in Hamilton County, a female former inmate has sued the company because she said its guards kept her shackled while she delivered a baby at Erlanger hospital. And the company is under federal investigation for allegedly falsifying guard schedules, payments and staffing records at an Idaho facility.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said there’s no reason to alter or terminate the county’s $13.1 million-a-year contract with CCA. He said the county keeps close tabs on operations.

“I don’t know how the other [CCA facilities] are set up, but we do have a superintendent up there, who works for the county,” Coppinger said. “We’re under a contract with them, but I’m not aware of any issues.”

In the last five years, county taxpayers have paid the company $65.7 million, according to county budget documents.

Campaign finance disclosures show CCA contributed $3,000 to Coppinger’s re-election, but that’s a drop in his $134,000 campaign bucket.

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