GAINESVILLE (AP) - An expert on prison privatization faces a second state ethics complaint for taking a $3 million consulting contract with a private prison company.
The complaint filed on Dec. 10 comes from the Police Benevolent Association with the Florida Commission on Ethics against Charles Thomas, a criminology professor and director of the University of Florida Private Corrections Project.
The PBA, a union representing state correctional officers, opposes privatization.
It filed a similar conflict-of-interest complaint last year against Thomas with the Ethics Commission.
In June, the Ethics Commission found probable cause that Thomas had violated state laws regulating the financial relationships state employees can have with private companies.
The commission found conflicts between Thomas' private work and his position as university researcher and as a consultant to the Florida Correctional Privatization Commission.
Helen Jones, spokeswoman for the Ethics Commission, said the ethics charges from the previous complaint are pending at the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings.
Thomas acknowledged to The Gainesville Sun newspaper of having a relationship with Prison Real Estate Investment Trust.
He said he had a $3 million contract consulting about the corporation's merger with Corrections Corporation of America, ownership of 30,000 shares worth $660,000 and a seat on the trust's board of directors.
Thomas said those financial ties are not a conflict because the corporation is a real estate trust that builds and leases correctional facilities to public and private entities.