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Tracking Rick Scott’s six-figure campaign haul from the GEO Group

Gov. Rick Scott speaks in Tampa last year. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
Gov. Rick Scott speaks in Tampa last year. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published Jul. 23, 2018
Updated Jul. 23, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott's new U.S. Senate campaign report shows generous support from a Florida-based company with a controversial track record, the Boca-Raton based corrections giant the GEO Group.

GEO operates immigrant detention facilities in Florida and Texas that are at the center of a raging national debate over President Donald Trump's "no tolerance" immigration policies.

READ MORE: What's happening with detained migrant children? A patchwork system makes it hard to find out.

At a time when other candidates are distancing themselves from GEO by returning the company's money, Scott reports $10,800 from GEO's chief executive, George Zoley, and his wife Donna, in his second quarter report filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

Scott's Super PAC reported $125,000 from a GEO Group subsidiary, GEO Acquisition II, and the governor's Victory Fund listed $78,600 from the Zoleys. The donations total $214,000.

The GEO Group has been an influential political force in Tallahassee for a long time.

READ MORE: Florida Legislature dishes $3 million no-bid contract to the GEO Group

OpenSecrets.org reported Friday that GEO's political action committee listed two $5,000 donations to Scott's Senate campaign in April, but that the two payments were marked as "void" in May. Scott's campaign said it never received the two donations.

Scott campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone told the Times/Herald that the OpenSecrets reporter asked only about the donations made by the GEO Group PAC.

"The Scott campaign never received the donations you're referring to," Schenone told the publication.

Joshua Karp of the liberal group American Bridge 21st Century said of Scott's GEO money: "Rick Scott could have owned up to his cozy relationship with one of the worst players in Trump's immigration detention scandal, but instead he chose to hide the truth that he'll gladly overlook the GEO Group's horrendous behavior in exchange for campaign cash."

GEO runs several correctional facilities in Florida. OpenSecrets.org reported that 10 members of Congress, eight of them Democrats, have recently rejected GEO's campaign contributions.

Behind Marco Rubio, a powerful ally: Private prison operator Geo Group

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