TALLAHASSEE — The Teamsters Union has filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Rick Scott in an attempt to block a state plan to privatize prison operations in 18 South Florida counties.
The complaint, announced Tuesday, alleges that Scott has a conflict of interest because he received $30,000 for his inauguration from the two largest private prison companies expected to bid on a potential $300 million annual contract — the GEO Group and Corrections Corp. of America.
The complaint does not spell out how that would violate the state's ethics law, which generally guards against officials using public office for their own private gain.
Scott faced a pair of ethics complaints earlier this year that Solantic, his chain of walk-in clinics, would benefit from his health care policies as governor.
Both complaints were dismissed and Scott sold the company.
Scott's office did not respond to a request for comment.
A Department of Corrections spokeswoman said the state has not received any bids for the private prison contracts, which are due Sept. 23.
"The conflict of interest is real," said Michael Filler, Teamsters public service division director.
The complaint, filed by Teamsters Local Union 2011 president Ken Wood of Tampa, comes as the Teamsters attempt to replace the Police Benevolent Association as the bargaining agent for 22,000 state prison guards.
The PBA sued the state in July attempting to block prison 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."
The Teamsters have given nearly $390,000 to political parties and candidates since 2002, including $274,500 to the Florida Democratic Party.
Michael C. Bender can be reached at email@example.com or (850) 224-7263. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelCBender.