CoreCivic, the private prison-owning giant out of Nashville, Tennessee that runs the Otay Mesa Detention Center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has been drawing heat as a result of president Donald Trump's immigration crackdown, but the spotlight is now turning to local Democrats.
Lori Saldaña, defeated in this month's bitter primary to replace termed-out Republican county supervisor Ron Roberts, has launched an online petition asking San Diego Democrats to return CoreCivic's campaign cash.
"California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has accepted campaign contributions from CoreCivic and then transferred the money to the San Diego County Democratic Party to help her husband, Nathan Fletcher — a candidate for San Diego County Supervisor," writes Saldaña, who placed third in the June primary after a pummeling by Fletcher and his allies.
"Under local campaign finance laws, corporations are prohibited from contributing to County Supervisor campaigns. Gonzalez used a loophole to transfer the CoreCivic money to the County Party to help her husband's campaign."
"Tell the San Diego County Democratic Party to condemn private for-profit prisons that take children away from their families in San Diego and punish inmates who refuse to work for $1.50/hour," says the petition, which calls for Gonzalez and the Democrats "to return all CoreCivic contributions and refuse future contributions."
Campaign disclosure records show that since June 14 of last year through this April 21, a range of Democratic and Republican California politicos have accepted campaign money from CoreCivic.
The ultimately-failed effort led by Senate leader Toni Atkins to defend incumbent state Senate Democrat Josh Newman against a recall mounted by opponents of the gasoline tax hike he backed received $4000 from CoreCivic in December and April.
Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa's failed bid for governor got $3500. Gonzalez Fletcher received $2000 from CoreCivic in January and April, records show.
Republicans have also benefited from the company's largesse; the Assembly re-election bid of Catharine Baker got $3000 on April 13 and the campaign fund of her colleague Tom Lackey received $3000 April 21.
Until recently a low-profile operation here, San Diego's CoreCivic lockup at the border has become the focus of frequent protest gatherings as the immigrant family separation controversy has grown.