Florida policymakers’ push to privatize a huge part of its prison system has drawn the wrath of the Teamsters union, which has filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Rick Scott, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The complaint at the Florida Commission on Ethics says Scott’s privatization push is “tainted” because he accepted $30,000 for his inaugural committee from the two largest companies vying for the contracts, the GEO Group and Corrections Corp. of America. The companies also contributed more than $1 million to candidates in 2010, it says.
It also says Scott has a conflict of interest because the State Board of Administration, which he chairs, owns $10 million in stock in the two companies in the state pension fund. The complaint is vague as to how that would violate Florida’s ethics law. Generally, those laws preclude state employees from leaving government service and lobbying for entities they worked with on state time, or benefitting from contracts they had a part in negotiating as state employees. “The governor clearly has a conflict of interest with both CCA and GEO bidding to secure contracts for prison management,” said Teamsters International Vice President Ken Wood. Scott spokesman Lane Wright said, There’s no ethics violation here. Between two and three hundred companies and individuals donated to the inauguration fund. And that money went to the Republican Party of Florida … not to Gov. Scott directly. Besides, the prison contract is going to go to the lowest bidder, whoever that is. Gov. Scott has nothing to do with the selection process.”