Broward News

Selling a Private Prison to Lawmakers: A Primer in Three Acts, by Southwest Ranches and CCA

Oh, what fun it must be to be a congressional representative, traveling your home territory in search of causes to support, being bombarded at every turn by lobbyists and carefully crafted P.R. Balancing pork-barrel people-pleasers with national security interests (and those of your campaign donors). 

In the case of the new private immigrant detention facility that's been "fast-tracked" to go up in an ugly corner of Southwest Ranches, contractor CCA and the town wanted a lot of congressional support.

Below, we see how they found a willing ally in Sen. Marco Rubio, carefully choreographed their courtship of Allen West, and got Debbie Wasserman Schultz to sign a letter of support written by Sen. Bill Nelson's office.

The emails tell the tale. Residents who oppose the prison have begun posting on Facebook the fruits of their public-records requests. (More to come in our continued attention to this story.) 

First off, in late January, just after pushing through an amendment to double the planned size of the facility, Southwest Ranches and CCA reps prepared for a February 9 meeting with ICE officials. They already had the support of Rubio -- who offered to come to the meeting as a booster.

But his presence might have attracted unwanted attention to the matters at hand.

CCA's attorney, Sam Poole, sent Southwest Ranches Attorney Keith Poliakoff a word of caution. "CCA is greatly concerned that having a U.S. Senator attend the February 9 meeting with ICE staff would call external attention to the meeting and create a level of discomfort among the reviewers..." Full email below; click to enlarge.

Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
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Stefan Kamph
Contact: Stefan Kamph