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  • MyOpinion_99 MyOpinion_99 Mar 18, 1999 12:43 PM Flag

    For All 2

    Prof found in violation
    (Last updated 11:04
    AM ET March 18)

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. March
    18 (UPI) Probable cause has
    been found by the
    state Commission on Ethics that a University of

    Florida criminology professor violated a
    conflict-of-interest law.

    Charles Thomas, an expert on prison
    privatization who directs the
    Private Corrections Project
    at UF, also works on a contract basis
    for Prison
    Realty Co.

    The commission said because Thomas'
    research could profoundly
    affect the private prison
    industry, his private economic interest
    overlaps with
    his UF position in a way that could tempt him to

    disregard his public duties. A formal hearing will be held
    in May.

    • I don't know Charlie Thomas, but know of him.
      I've been reading his UF stuff for a long time and
      found it to be pretty objective. If worse comes to
      worst and UF fires him, it's their loss. Hope he got
      enough from PZN to thumb his nose at his antagonists.
      Personally, I'm glad he's on our side.

      If he loses
      this hearing process, I guess the unions can chalk one
      up for themselves. The unions, of course, have set a
      wonderful example over the years of avoiding conflicts and
      pursuing fiscal prudence. In fact, the unions are so
      wonderful, I wish they would be more successful and take
      over the country, so the workers can give according to
      each one's ability, and we can all receive according
      to our need. Seems like that's been tried somewhere

      In all seriousness, I view any union victory as
      repugnant to market sensibilities. Sorry, I'm an unabashed
      (well, slightly bashed at PZN's current price)

      • 2 Replies to newMK
      • 04/21/1999
        KRTBN Knight-Ridder Tribune
        Business News: The Miami Herald

        University of
        Florida professor Charles Thomas, who helped guide

        Florida's entry into prison privatization and whose
        national report of
        industry trends analysts say can
        "greatly influence" the stock market, has
        earned a
        reputation the top expert in the field.

        But as his
        reputation has grown, so has his bankbook: The professor,
        $84,000-per-year academic, also was on the
        payroll of a private
        corrections company, commanding
        a $3 million consulting fee for a
        January 1999
        merger involving Corrections Corporation of

        State records also show he owned an estimated
        $660,000 in stock in
        four private corrections
        companies and is a member of the board of
        directors for
        Prison Realty Corp., a real estate investment trust
        formed to
        provide financing for private corrections

        Complaints to the state Ethics Commission
        followed and last week,
        Thomas admitted to a conflict
        of interest between his work as a university

        researcher and his personal financial stake in the outcome
        of privatization

        In a signed
        document, he offered to halt his university research, pay
        $2,000 fine and resign his position as director
        of UF's Private
        Corrections Project -- a
        research project financed with private donations
        corrections companies -- in order to settle the

        "This is an appropriate settlement," said
        Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric
        Scott, who acted as
        prosecutor for the ethics commission in this

        Five of Florida's adult prisons are privately run and
        87 percent of the
        juvenile justice system is run
        by private companies. The state's push
        privatization, touted as a cheaper alternative to state-run
        began in earnest in 1993, when the Legislature
        created the Correctional

        Mark Hodges, the commission's executive director,
        said the law creating
        the commission was written
        partly by Thomas, who then played a "very
        big" role
        in the first years of the commission.

        this state and every other state, he's been the one to
        record the
        changes in the private prison industry,"
        Hodges said. "He answered our
        questions, helped us
        understand what was going on the industry. His
        have been a clearinghouse of information."

        Thomas was employed by the commission as consultant from
        Hodges said the commission ended his employment
        after the first ethics
        complaint was

        The research project also was financed in part by
        donations from private
        corrections companies. Stock
        analysts interviewed by ethics investigators
        said that
        Thomas' industry predictions could "greatly influence"
        the stock

        Not every private
        corrections company was in Thomas' corner. George
        chief executive officer of Wackenhut Corrections,
        called the
        professor's close financial relationship
        with CCA and others "most

      • I know Dr. Thomas. He seems like a pleasant
        individual, but his views are definitely biased. That is not
        his fault. He profits from the proliferation of
        privatization. In that battle, there are different stakeholders.
        He should have no problem stepping away from his
        shield of public employment. As a public employee, he
        must remain impartial and not have certain contractual
        relationships with private interests. That rule doesn�t only
        apply to Thomas. Taxpayers shouldn�t be subsidizing
        profiteers that are operating under the guise of
        not-for-profit employment status.

    • ........and some other things. Thomas is a member, in good standing, of the "Happy Brigade".

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