December 1, 2013
DBA Press releases records obtained from the office of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pertaining to private prison operators, private prison lobbyists.
Key pieces of information contained in this records set include:
– ADC Director claimed knowledge of CCA’s role in driving prison privatization plan:
On July 14, 2009 Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director Charles Ryan wrote a letter to then-Brewer Chief of Staff Eileen Klein, stating that capitol staff, as well as Geo Group and Management and Training Company (MTC) lobbyists, had informed him that a massive private prison concession agreement for the operation of many of the state’s correctional facilities had been advanced by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and their chief lobbyist, Jaime Molera. The letter also details a heated exchange that had taken place between Ryan and CCA Vice President of State Partnership Relations Brad Regens when Ryan raised this issue with Regens.
Records also contain a number of other Ryan communications pertaining to the prison privatization plan wherein Ryan voices various concerns and objections.
This initial concession agreement eventually resulted in the August 31, 2012 award of an Arizona state contract with CCA for inmates to be housed at the corporation’s Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona.
– CCA lobbyists work with the Governor’s Office and Legislature to shape the state budget, award contract:
Records show that both CCA lobbyists Jaime Molera and Kathryn Senseman (wife of former Brewer Communications Director and CCA lobbyist Paul Senseman) were engaged with the Governor’s office and the Arizona Legislature in drafting budgetary language that resulted in the 2012 CCA contract award.
– CCA lobbyist handpicked Governor’s judicial appointee:
Records show that CCA lobbyist Jaime Molera essentially nominated Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods for appointment to the bench by the Governor. Woods, per Molera’s nomination, was subsequently appointed to the bench by Brewer in 2011. Woods’ law firm, Rusing and Lopez, PLLC (currently Rusing, Lopez and Lizardi), had worked closely with Molera and Molera’s lobby firm, Molera Alvarez Group, in a number of business ventures.
– Close relationship between Governor’s Office, Arizona Board of Regents and CCA top lobbyist:
Records illustrate the close ties between Brewer’s office and CCA, primarily through Molera. Records also illustrate Molera’s close association with the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR, for which Molera has long served as a lobbyist). CCA Board of Directors members Dennis DeConcini and Anne Mariucci are both members of ABOR, as is Governor Brewer.
– Governor’s Office relations with for-profit prison corporation responsible for catastrophic escapes:
Records detail aspects of the relationship between Brewer’s office and MTC prior to the July, 2010 MTC prisoner escape at the corporation’s Kingman correctional facility, as well as aspects of the reaction of the Governor’s office to the private prison escape. This escape resulted in a nationwide manhunt and the murder of an elderly couple vacationing in New Mexico.
– Governor uses private email account to evade public records law:
Absent from this records set is any responsive record delivered to DBA Press from the possession of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer herself.
Even though the DBA Press public records request explicitly sought responsive records and communications from Brewer– including emails sent/received by the Governor while conducting state business through the use of private email addresses such as “firstname.lastname@example.org” (Brewer’s email address as given in campaign finance documents filed with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State, Division of Elections)– records delivered to DBA Press contain not one single, solitary record that originated with the Governor herself. This is worth noting, especially since Brewer’s longtime campaign manager and advisor, Chuck Coughlin (proprietor of high-powered Phoenix lobby firm HighGround Public Affairs Consultants) served as a CCA lobbyist from late January of 2010 through July 13, 2012.
When asked why records delivered per the March 7, 2012 request contained nothing from Brewer herself, then-Brewer Communications Director Matt Benson stated that the Governor does not use a state-issued email account during the course of her business as the state’s top executive, and therefore none of the Governor’s email communications are open to public disclosure.
Listen to Matt Benson explain the Governor’s imagined immunity to public records law.
These records were released by the Governor’s office on September 5, 2012, pursuant to a March 7, 2012 public records request. Interestingly, the Governor’s office had delayed release of these records for nearly six months, only to release the records days after the state awarded the private prison expansion contract to CCA.
The public records request sought both records and communications in possession of Governor Brewer, then-Chief of Staff Eileen Klein and then-Public Safety Policy Advisor Thomas Adkins, pertaining to CCA, Geo Group (and related companies), MTC, Emerald Correctional Management (and related companies), and LaSalle Corrections (and related companies), as well as lobbyists employed by these corporations.
The March, 2012 records request also sought records relating to the Arizona Commission on Privatization and Efficiency (COPE, then chaired by former CCA lobbyist Mark Brnovich), as well as any records pertaining to requests for proposals relating to the state’s prison privatization expansion ambitions.