Michael Bloomberg, A Billionaire, Admits His Campaign Used Prison Labor
Democratic presidential candidate and billionaire New Yorker Michael Bloomberg claims he was unaware that his campaign was exploiting prison labor to call voters, according to BBC News.
Bloomberg entered the presidential race in November, doling out one of the largest-ever political ad buys, the news outlet noted.
The former New York City mayor said he only learned of the matter after a reporter from The Intercept inquired about the campaign’s use of prison labor. "We do not support this practice and we are making sure our vendors more properly vet their subcontractors moving forward,” Bloomberg said in a subsequent statement.
The Intercept reported that Bloomberg’s campaign used a third-party vendor, which in turn hired the call center company ProCom for handling the phone calls.
ProCom has two centers in Oklahoma state prisons, and at least one of those centers — located at “a minimum-security women's prison with a capacity of over 900 inmates” — participated in making calls for the Bloomberg campaign.
According to CBS News, Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Matt Elliott said inmates could earn $1.45 per hour in the call centers, adding: "We believe this type of work helps prepare inmates for release.”
BBC News noted that in the U.S., prison labor has been used “for a variety of tasks like packaging Starbucks coffee and manufacturing lingerie,” as well as battling wildfires in California for $1 a day.