Tell the Black Caucus: Stop Taking Private Prison Money

By Rashad Robinson, []

This week, Donald Trump suggested we reform our broken prison system by increasing privatization, saying ‘Private Prisons seems to work a lot better.’1 Private prison companies are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses targeting Black communities.2    Companies like CCA and GEO Group are focused on one thing: profit. And in order to make the most money for their shareholders, they traffic in political influence, giving over $10 million to candidates and spending $25 million lobbying for laws that put more people in prison.3

It’s no surprise that someone as profit driven and anti-Black as Donald Trump would support Private Prisons but when an institution like the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBC PAC) accepts money from the industry, it is harder to understand. Even though both Democratic Presidential candidates have shunned contributions from private prison lobbyists,4 the CBC PAC has taken thousands of dollars from Akin Gump, the lobbying firm that makes millions lobbying to protect their private prison client, Corrections Corporation of America, from increased regulation and transparency.5

Join us in calling on the CBC PAC to remake their board to reflect CBC leadership and cut ties with industries that harm Black people, including Private Prison lobbyists, Big Tobacco, and the anti-worker National Restaurant Association.

The Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee6 claims to speak for Black people but is really a mouthpiece for corporate power with a board made up primarily of corporate lobbyists and funding from some of the worst industries for Black people, including Private Prison lobbyists.As The Intercept reported:

Members of the CBC PAC board include Daron Watts, a lobbyist for Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive opioid OxyContin; Mike Mckay and Chaka Burgess, both lobbyists for Navient, the student loan giant that was spun off of Sallie Mae; former Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., a lobbyist who represents a range of clients, including work last year on behalf of Lorillard Tobacco, the maker of Newport cigarettes; and William A. Kirk, who lobbies for a cigar industry trade group on a range of tobacco regulations.

And a significant percentage of the $7,000 raised this cycle by the CBC PAC from individuals was donated by white lobbyists, including Vic Fazio, who represents Philip Morris and served for years as a lobbyist to Corrections Corporation of America, and David Adams, a former Clinton aide who now lobbies for Wal-Mart, the largest gun distributor in America.8

The lobbyists sitting on the CBC PAC’s board represent companies that are notorious in the mistreatment and exploitation of Black people. This includes Wynn, the Congressman-turned-Big Tobacco lobbyist who reportedly used his position on the board to block the endorsement of current CBC member and progressive hero, Rep. Donna Edwards’, historic bid to become only the second Black woman to be elected to the Senate.9 Black voters ousted Wynn for his corporate ties back in 2008 but thanks to the corporate board of the CBC PAC, he is still speaking for Black people. If corporate lobbyists on the CBC PAC’s board can decide to withhold support from someone like Rep. Edwards, why are they being allowed to operate under the banner of the Congressional Black Caucus?


Rashad, Arisha, Scott, Brandi, Enchanta, and the rest of the team.



[1] “Why Trump’s support for private prisons and mass incarceration should worry you” RawStory, 4-3-16

[2] “Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America,”(.pdf) Sentencing Project, 01-2012

[3] How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about,” Washington Post 04-28-2015

[4] “Hillary Clinton says she’ll end private prisons, stop taking their money,” Huffington Post, 10-23-15,


[6] Political Action Committees are organizations formed for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat electoral candidates. Read more here:


[8] “Hillary Clinton’s Congressional Black Caucus PAC Endorsement Approved by Board Awash in Lobbyists” The Intercept, 2-11-16,

[9] “Black Caucus PAC shuns endorsement of Donna Edwards,” Politico, 2-12-16