It helps to have a political spouse with clout, and plenty of special interest money. So, it appears with the political pairing of one-time Republican Assemblyman, now Democrat, Nathan Fletcher and his wife, current 80th District Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who tied the knot over New Year’s weekend 2017, just ahead of a bruising political season.
This April 2, Gonzalez-Fletcher's reelection committee transferred $25,000 in cash to the San Diego County Democratic Party, per state disclosure filings. On April 27, the committee gave an additional $50,000, and on May 3 and 4, it followed up with $80,000, for a total of $155,000 so far.
In turn, the party has funneled a big chunk of its funds to efforts on behalf of Nathan Fletcher's campaign for the Fourth District seat of termed-out GOP county supervisor Ron Roberts. From March 9 through May 3, filings with the California Secretary of State's office show, the Fletcher cause has benefited from a total of $139,733 in Democratic Party spending, including salaries, research, media buys and robocalls.
To come up with that kind of scratch for her husband, the assemblywoman has been busy collecting cash from a bevy of firms and labor unions having an interest in legislation, including $1000 on January 11 from controversial private prison operator CoreCivic of Tennessee LLC. Formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America, the company kicked in another $1000 on April 13, for a $2000 total, records show.
This past December, attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Project South filed suit against CoreCivic on behalf of immigrant detainees at the firm's Otay Mesa Detention Center, alleging that they were forced to perform prison jobs paying $1.50 an hour or less.
“CoreCivic is placing profits above people by forcing detained immigrants to perform manual labor for next to nothing, saving millions of dollars that would otherwise provide jobs and stimulate the local economy,” Meredith Stewart, senior attorney for the SPLC, charged in an April 17 news release regarding the San Diego federal court suit, as well as others brought by the group in Washington, Colorado, Texas, and Georgia.
Among other CoreCivic controversies have been allegations by the American Civil Liberties Union last December that the company was seeking to "corner the market" on privatized prisons by increasing its alreadyintensive lobbying of state government.
"Big companies like CCA/CoreCivic can use their lobbying muscle to squeeze out smaller, community-based nonprofits providing rehabilitation services," maintained ACLU lawyer Carl Takei in a November 2017 article posted on the group's website.
The Otay Mesa facility which holds detainees in custody on contract for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has a major stake in the way California regulates for-profit lockups and has long been a legislative campaign money mainstay.
Other corporate donors to the Gonzalez Fletcher fund include Chevron Oil, which gave a total of $4400. Sempra Energy, currently fighting proposals to break up its San Diego distribution monopoly, has thus far this campaign funding cycle given Gonzalez Fletcher's committee $6400. A separate Gonzalez Fletcher-controlled political committee, the Gonzalez Ballot Measure committee, received $5000 from Sempra on September 27 of last year. Pacific Gas & Electric gave the same October 9.