Government watchdog and immigration rights groups have increasing concerns about Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s financial ties to the private prison industry as the Trump administration’s policies facilitate rapid growth for private prison related companies.
According to POLITICO, Rauner holds investments in a healthcare company that services private prisons – including immigration detention centers.
In his most recent statement of economic interests, the multi-millionaire Republican governor disclosed earnings from a private equity fund that owns Correct Care Solutions, a for-profit health care provider that has millions of dollars in government contracts with jails and prisons across the country, including immigrant detention centers.
The governor said he relinquished investment decisions to a third party and has no direct ties to Correct Care Solutions, a group whose work extends to places like Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, one of just four immigrant family detention centers in the country contracted for profit.
Still, Rauner’s disclosures indicate that he’s earning income from the group, which reports annual revenue of $1 billion.
Immigration rights groups point out two problems with a sitting governor holding investments with the company: It represents a conflict of interest, as Rauner could be required to make decisions directly impacting such companies; and Correct Care Solutions has been sued dozens of times for broad forms of negligence.
One watchdog group said the third-party management of Rauner’s finances — an arrangement which stops short of a true blind trust — does not inoculate the governor from criticism about financial gain and called on him to divest of any funds involving immigrant detention centers.
But according to his campaign, Rauner has no intention of divesting.
“He should not be in any way profiting off of this,” said Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, a national watchdog group that monitors privatization and advocates for responsible government contracting. “It’s morally reprehensible.”
“He is the leader of his entire state. He is participating in it. There’s no other way to say it: You’re making money from that? You are complicit, period. Complicit in the poor care that’s happening in prisons; complicit with what’s going on with immigration in our country,” Cohen continued. “He should not be investing in anything where he can as a policy maker have to make a decision related to those issues.”
While it is unclear how much control Rauner exerts over his investments despite the “blind trust procedures” he reportedly has in place, POLITICO noted that the governor’s profits since taking office have skyrocketed.
During his first year in office, Rauner, who does not accept a state salary, reported $188 million in income, predominantly from investments. That figure, which covered 2015, was more than three times his income the year earlier, when he didn’t hold an elected office.