Law enforcement groups say the office of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) approached them about opposing a bipartisan prison reform bill, Politico reports. Cotton is a critic of broader criminal justice overhaul proposals but has yet to come out against the narrower, prison-focused approach that President Trump is backing. At least two law enforcement groups discussed a call by Cotton’s office for letters of opposition on prison reform ahead of a White House summit Friday on the issue. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which had declared its endorsement in February, wrote to House and Senate Republican leaders on Friday announcing it was reversing that position and would oppose the prison reform bill, citing changes made to the measure in recent weeks.
Another top law enforcement group said it and other similar organizations had been contacted by Cotton’s office with a request to oppose the bill in writing. “Senator Cotton believes it’s important that we get prison reform right, and that any legislation must fully protect law-abiding Americans. He’s consulted with Arkansans and several law enforcement groups and is actively working with his colleagues to address his concerns with the current bill,” said spokeswoman Caroline Tabler. Cotton is perhaps the leading conservative holdout on the prisons bill, for which Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) is leading the push. Any public pushback from Cotton would amount to a slap at the president and his son-in-law turned adviser Jared Kushner, who hosted the Friday gathering at which Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke.