As top lawyer for the largest U.S. private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), Gus Puryear IV is a favorite of G.O.P. hard-liners, says Time magazine. Puryear, 39, a George W. Bush nominee for the federal bench prepped Dick Cheney for the vice presidential debates in 2000 and 2004 and served as a senior aide to two former Senators and onetime presidential hopefuls, Bill Frist and Fred Thompson.
Puryear has recently confronted tough questions about his conduct, experience, and potential conflicts of interest from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which must vote on his nomination. Now, a former CCA manager tells Time that Puryear oversaw a reporting system in which accounts of major, sometimes violent prison disturbances and other significant events were often masked or minimized in accounts provided to government agencies with oversight over prison contracts. Ronald Jones alleges that the company even began keeping two sets of books – one for internal use that described prison deficiencies in telling detail, and a second set that Jones describes as “doctored” for public consumption, to limit bad publicity, litigation, or fines that could derail CCA’s multimillion-dollar contracts with federal, state or local agencies. CCA owns or operates 65 prisons, housing some 70,000 inmates.