Magazine article In These Times

Ties That Bind

Magazine article In These Times

Ties That Bind

Article excerpt

Over the past several years private-prison companies Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the Geo Group, through their work as members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and through their ties to the Arizona Legislature and the office of Gov. Jan Brewer, have had ample opportunity - and obvious intent - to ensure the passage of S.B. 1070.

According to Sen. Russell Pearce and Brewer's spokesman Paul Senseman, the S.B. 1070 went through a lengthy edit and review process that took place predominantly within the Arizona Legislature and the offices of the Maricopa County Attorney and Gov. Brewer.

A little over a week after Pearce introduced S.B. 1070 on the floor of the Arizona Senate, CCA enlisted Highground Consulting, one of the most influential lobbying firms in Phoenix, to represent its interests in the state. Lobby disclosure forms filed with the Arizona Secretary of State indicate that Maricopa County also employed Highground during the time of the bill's formation. Highground's owner and principal, Charles "Chuck" Coughlin, is a top advisor and the current campaign manager of Gov. Brewer.

State lobby reports show that Brewer's current spokesman, Senseman, previously worked as CCA's chief lobbyist in Arizona as an employee of Policy Development Group, another influential Phoenix consulting firm. His wife, Kathryn Senseman, is still employed by Policy Development Group and still lobbies the legislature on behalf of CCA.

In other words, in 2005 and 2006, as Arizona legislators - many of them ALEC members - were drafting provisions of what would eventually become the "Breathing While Brown" law, Brewer's director of communications, Senseman, was lobbying them on behalf of CCA.

Brewer's "chief policy advisor," Richard Bark - a man Senseman and Pearce both say was directly involved in the drafting of S.B. 1070 - remains listed with the Office of the Secretary of State as an active lobbyist for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). …

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