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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Teamsters try to block prison privatization, file ethics complaint against Gov. Rick Scott



ibt-logo-250.jpgThe complaint fires a conflict of interest charge against Gov. Rick Scott, claiming a nexus between more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the top private prison companies and its executives to political parties and candidates, the state's $7 million investment in those companies (the Corrections Corp. of America and the GEO Group) and the decision to privatize prison operations in 18 South Florida counties.

Scott is named because, as governor, he is chairman of the State Board of Administration, the agency that oversees the state's investments. Scott has a role in shaping SBA policies, but not directing specific investments.

"The conflict of interest is real," said Michael Filler of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. "The fox is guarding the henhouse."

When it comes to financial issues, Florida's conflict of interest laws generally guard against using public office for personal gain. The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the Teamsters are in a pitched battle right now to take over representation of prison guards from the Police Benevolent Association and the group faced questions about what their own interests. (The PBA has filed a lawsuit over privatization.)

"Our interest in privatization has to do with what the impact is on Floridians and jobs for the people who work for the state Department of Corrections," Filler said. "If we are successful, and we think we will be, in our effort to represent these employees, that's a future thing."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 10:59am]


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