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Negron Cements His Relationship with GEO by Starting a New Job for the Private Prison Group

December 4, 2018 - 3:00pm
Joe Negron and GEO's Boca Raton headquarters
Joe Negron and GEO's Boca Raton headquarters

Former Florida Senate President Joe Negron has joined politically powerful private-prison giant GEO Group, POLITICO reported Tuesday morning.

In fact, this is his first day on the job.

"The company announced Negron’s hire in a Nov. 29 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission," writes POLITICO's Matt Dixon, "saying he will bring 'decades of legal experience' to the company."

Negron will serve as general counsel, overseeing GEO's corporate governance, financial and regulatory disclosures and litigation-related matters, company spokesperson Pablo Paez told Dixon. Paez would not discuss Negron’s compensation package and Negron never returned POLITICO's call.

But, however you look at it, the job is a plum: John Bulfin, the general counsel who is retiring after 18 years on the job -- the man Negron is replacing -- will get a $1.7 million retirement package. He received a $514,077 annual salary and a $2.5 million overall compensation package, according to SEC filings.

Boca Raton-based GEO has a contract to operate five of Florida's seven private prisons.

POLITICO points out Negron's "longstanding political relationship" with GEO in recent years, particularly since he became Senate president.

"During the 2016 election cycle, the company gave $250,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which coordinates GOP state Senate races," according to the news outlet. "As incoming Senate president, Negron controlled the committee that election cycle. The company also gave more than $50,000 to Negron’s political career since 2013, and $100,000 in 2016 to the failed congressional bid of his wife, Rebecca, and a super PAC supporting her bid."

This year, while Negron was Senate president, the Legislature included a $4 million pay increase for companies that operate Florida’s seven private prisons -- an expenditure that caused state Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, to vote against the entire 2018-19 state budget.

“'As Senate president, Mr. Negron made sure to take care of his friends at GEO, just as they took care to support his wife’s congressional run, related political committees and other initiatives,'” Richardson told POLITICO in an Monday. “It does not surprise me that the GEO leaders have now offered him a big job inside their private prison industrial complex.'"

Richardson also brought up another $2.9 million Negron helped secure for the company in last year’s budget, apparently to fatten GEO's offender rehab program.

“'All taxpayers should be appalled by the apparent conflicts of interest,'” a disgusted Richardson told POLITICO.

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