Politics

GEO Group Helps Boost Lobbying Revenue of Ballard Partners

Private prison group provides detention services for apprehended immigrants

Private prison firm GEO Group has paid a Donald Trump-connected lobbying firm to influence the federal government. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The private prison company GEO Group paid a Trump-connected lobbying firm $150,000 for seeking to influence the federal government during the second quarter of this year, according to a recent disclosure report to Congress.

The disclosure from Ballard Partners also says that the GEO Group doesn’t take a position “on immigration enforcement policies or detention policies,” as such issues have generated widespread controversy in recent months.

That came amid fallout over a Trump administration policy to separate children from their parents who entered the country without legal documentation or were seeking asylum. The GEO Group manages detention facilities on behalf of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

GEO Group has paid Ballard Partners a total of $300,000 for lobbying during the first half of 2018, on pace to exceed the $550,000 GEO paid Ballard Partners in 2017 when it boosted its lobbying efforts.

Brian Ballard, a prominent Florida lobbyist who previously represented the Trump Organization there and is a leading fundraiser for the Trump campaign, leads the firm and was listed among the firm’s lobbyists for the GEO Group.

Ballard and other officials with the firm did not respond to a request for comment. But Ballard Partners, which opened its Washington outpost to coincide with the beginning of the Trump administration, disclosed lobbying the departments of Justice and Labor on legal, immigration and other matters, according to the disclosure.

“Promoting the use of public-private partnerships in correctional services, including evidence-based rehabilitation programs aimed at reducing recidivism,” the disclosure said in describing the lobbying work. “GEO does not advocate for or against criminal justice policy related to criminalizing certain behaviors or length of criminal sentences, nor does GEO take a position on immigration enforcement policies or detention policies.”

The GE OGroup is one of Ballard Partners’ biggest federal lobbying contracts for the second quarter of 2018, which covers April 1 through June 30, but it is not the biggest.

Ballard Partners disclosed bringing in $190,000 during the second quarter from the law firm Patino & Associates for work on behalf of Valentina and Bogdan Georgescu, according to a congressional lobbying disclosure, for lobbying the State Department including on “Immigration Policy and Processing.”

Its other federal lobbying clients during the second quarter of the year included Amazon.com, the Motion Picture Association of America, the University of Miami and Sprint. All told, the firm has reported about $8.6 million in federal lobbying revenue so far this year, compared with just shy of $10 million for all of 2017, according to congressional lobbying filings. Second quarter lobbying disclosure reports are due late Friday night.

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