A super PAC affiliated with Florida Gov. Rick Scott has continued accepting potentially illegal contributions from America’s largest private prison company, despite coming under fire for the potential campaign finance law violation earlier this year.
In April, New Republican PAC — the organization that Scott, a Republican, once ran and that now supports his Senate campaign — accepted $125,000 from a subsidiary of GEO Group despite a ban prohibiting federal contractors from making political contributions.
In July, the nonprofit watchdog MapLight reported the contribution, calling it a potential violation of the contractor ban.
“A contractor can’t dodge the ban by making a contribution through a wholly owned subsidiary,” Brendan Fischer, a lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, told MapLight.
But on Sept. 19, nine days after the group End Citizens United filed an FEC complaint against New Republican, the PAC took an additional $50,000 from the subsidiary, GEO Acquisition II, according to the PAC’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.
GEO Acquisition II appears to play a role in its parent company’s federal contracts, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The subsidiary is the full owner of yet another company, CPT Operating Partnership LP, which owns the real estate at five of GEO’s federal facilities, according to MapLight.
The Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group runs six corrections facilities in the state and more than 130 around the country.
GEO had $471 million worth of contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as of July, making it the agency’s largest contractor, according to the investigative news outlet Sludge. The company also runs seven facilities for the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Scott became the chairman of New Republican in 2017, when it was dedicated to supporting President Donald Trump’s agenda, Politico reported at the time.
But right after Scott announced his candidacy for Senate, the PAC immediately transitioned to a pro-Scott group and so far has spent more than $18 million against Scott’s opponent, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, according to OpenSecrets.
Last month, while GEO Acquisition II contributed to the PAC, GEO Group CEO George Zoley and his wife each gave the same amount, the latest transactions in a long-running history between the company and the governor.
Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Times noted that Scott continued to accept money from the company while others were distancing themselves from it amid the Trump administration’s “no tolerance” and forced family separation policies.
In 2016, the Campaign Legal Center filed an FEC complaint about a GEO subsidiary’s contributions to a different Scott-chaired super PAC, Rebuilding America Now.