Crony Capitalism: For-Profit Prison Corporation Influence in Arizona’s Attorney General Race

Mark Brnovich

Brnovich served as “Senior Director of Business Development” for CCA from 2005-2007. He was a registered lobbyist for CCA in the state of Utah during 2005 and 2006. In 2007, Brnovich was working for both CCA and the US Attorney’s office, in a clear conflict of interest.

According to federal court records, Mark Brnovich, as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, was assigned as a prosecutor on eleven federal criminal cases (involving the prosecution of ten individuals) in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, from September through November of 2007.

In connection with these cases, four individuals served substantial pre-trial detention time (from between several months to a year and a half) in the custody of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), or in the custody of a “designated representative” thereof. It is not known if such a “designated representative” in these specific cases was CCA, but two of CCA’s facilities in Arizona primarily serve the federal court system.These four Brnovich prosecutions resulted in approximately 10,290 days of sentenced BOP prison time and up to $514,500 to $926,100 in potential revenue for CCA, not including possible CCA revenue reaped through pre-trial detention of these defendants via contracts with USMS.

Brnovich has been tapped by Gov. Brewer for several appointments. In 2010, he was installed as the chair of the Governor’s Commission on Privatization and Efficiency, which, unsurprisingly, recommended privatization of everything from the state lottery to K-12 education.

In April of 2009, Brewer appointed Brnovich as Director of the Arizona State Department of Gaming. This appointment also indicates a possible conflict of interest given his affiliation with CCA. From January of 2004 to July of 2007, a team of in-house CCA lobbyists expended a total of $9,620,000 in lobbying a number of federal agencies — most notably the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The sole specific lobbying issue identified on lobbying disclosure forms during this period of time was the “privatization of BIA detention facilities.”

Of the ten individuals Brnovich prosecuted during his period of apparent overlap between employment by/on behalf of CCA, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, all but one of these individuals were accused of either crimes committed against casinos operated by Indian tribes on Indian lands or against Indian individuals committed in “Indian Country.”

“Liar, Hypocrite”

In an Oct. 4th “Political Insider” column, the Arizona Republic reported on the previous week’s debate between the two AG candidates.

“I haven’t taken any money from private prisons, folks,” he said.

He mentioned Rotellini’s contributions from formerU.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini and businesswoman and former regent Anne Mariucci, both of whom sat on the board of the Corrections Corporation of America. Campaign records show DeConcini donated $900 to the campaign, and Mariucci $500.

But not so fast. A search of Brnovich’s campaign records show his donors include Paul Senseman and Jaime Molera, both of whom have lobbied on behalf of Corrections Corporation of America. Senseman gave the campaign $250 two weeks ago, according to campaign records. Molera has given the campaign $1,162.

In response to questions about the statement, Brnovich spokesman Matthew Benson tweeted that Brnovich “misspoke” and then went on to call Rotellini a “hypocrite.”

The Arizona Democratic Party was more blunt in its name calling, declaring Brnovich a “liar.”

Interestingly, Mr. Brnovich’s spokesman, Matt Benson, himself has ties to the for-profit prison industry. Benson left Governor Brewer’s office last year to work for Veridus LLC., a lobby firm that has represented GEO Group in Arizona.

Brnovich Private Prison Contributions, 2013-2014

Lobbyists affiliated with the for-profit incarceration industry have made numerous contributions to Brnovich’s campaign.

Corporation Number of Contributions Amount
CCA 6 $2212
GEO Group 5 $6,250
Other (Corizon) 2 $500
AZ Correctional Peace Officers Assn. PAC 1 $1,000
TOTAL 10 $9,962

 

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