CCA, based in Nashville, Tenn., manages 63 prisons, the majority of them on contract for the federal government and 19 states. CCA operates three prisons in Kentucky and recently bid for the contract to run the state's newest prison in Elliott County. A former CCA executive now heads the state Corrections Department.
The event also yielded at least $113,000 in donations for the defense fund. DeLay is paying tens of thousands of dollars to defense lawyers in the wake of the Sept. 21 indictments of three of his political aides on charges of money laundering and illegally using corporate money to influence Texas elections.
CCA gives heavily to election campaigns through its political-action committee, paying nearly $180,000 for federal races during the 2004 elections. DeLay and Rogers took at least $4,500 and $6,000, respectively, from CCA for their campaigns or their so-called "leadership PACs," used to help their colleagues' campaigns.
Additionally, CCA is a generous charitable supporter, said Chickering, the company's spokeswoman.
CCA chose the DeLay Foundation for Kids - apparently, for the first time, Chickering said - because of the company's presence in Texas and the charity's declared mission of helping children in state foster care.
"Our giving mission is underprivileged or troubled youth," Chickering said.
Calls to Rogers' congressional office were not returned this week.
A spokesman for DeLay, Jonathan Grella, insisted that donors to the DeLay Foundation receive no favors in return for their contributions. DeLay and his wife helped raise three foster children, Grella said. Critics who question their commitment to children are merely Democratic-leaning political partisans, he added.
At the DeLay Foundation in Sugar Land, Texas, a spokeswoman said the charity will use the donation as it builds a shelter for abused and neglected children on 50 acres of donated land near Houston.
The DeLay Foundation has taken $4.6 million in donations and spent $582,904 over the last four years, with most of the spending on administration and fund-raising, according to its filings at the Internal Revenue Service. Earlier this year, it reported $4 million in assets.
If politicians insist on operating charities, then as public figures, they should open all financial records to public inspection, said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a non-partisan campaign finance reform group.
"We have called on Mr. DeLay in the past to disclose the names of his charitable donors, at least," Wertheimer said. "Because from what little we can tell, the list of donors so far has included lobbyists and corporations with a direct interest in legislation and government contracts."
The time will come for that, AW. And you're right, it's not THAT big a deal (as opposed to riots, escapes and needless fines). It's just not clear how they benefit from making a big donation to a dubious charity run by a Congressman who may soon be indicted. I guess it's a Texas thing and since I'm not a Texan I would not understand. I defer to your superior knowledge.
I have often posted that CCA's lack of a formal IR department is a weakness. Does anybody besides me remember Peggy Wilson Lawrence? She and her successor Susan Hart had an exquisite sense of appearances that, in spite of all the good things that are happening at CCA, I do not see today.
I've had involvement with private corrections in one way or another since the first beds were privatized in the mid-80s. One of the companies I worked with was co-founded by a guy who served time in prison for Watergate related problems (pardoned by Ford). The founder of another early company was last seen riding his bike to report to a prison and begin serving a sentence. CCA's founders included the head of the TN Republican party and the wife of the TN governor. States that use private prisons had to get enabling legislation passed - it was relatively cheap. The lobbyists may have cost more than the politicians. C'est la vie, but yes, we should all be bothered.