Earlier this year, DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy launched an investigation of the influence of the private prison industry on state policies. The review of public records this summer revealed a surprising connection between Arizona Department of Gaming Director Mark Brnovich and the Corrections Corporation of America. In the midst of this story being written, Brnovich announced he would be leaving his post in state gaming regulation, which paves the way for him to seek the post of state Attorney General.
A former Corrections Corporation of America "senior director of business development" and lobbyist is planning to run for the office of Arizona's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General.
On September 3, Arizona Department of Gaming Director Mark Brnovich sent a letter to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, declaring his intention to resign his post, effective September 20. Although Brnovich has yet to file any formal campaign/committee registration documents with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections, the Capitol Times reported on September 4, that Brnovich had reserved the website address, "mark4ag.com," on August 23.
Brnovich, a Republican, would likely be challenging incumbent Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne in the 2014 Republican primary election for the office. Over the past year, Horne has been the subject of both federal and Maricopa County investigations into alleged campaign law violations, in that Horne allegedly coordinated with an independent expenditure committee in the creation of negative ads targeted at his Democrat opponent during the 2010 election. (Maricopa County is the home of Arizona's urban center, the Phoenix metropolitan area.)
Brnovich has credentials for the office of Attorney General, having previously served as an assistant Arizona Attorney General under former Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull, and having previously served as a deputy Maricopa County Attorney from August of 1991 to May of 1998.
What is less well known are his ties to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a for-profit prison corporation that is very influential in Arizona and that has benefited financially from its close ties to the government.
The CCA Man
According to statements of financial disclosure filed with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections by Brnovich's wife, former Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner and current Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Susan Brnovich, Mark Brnovich served as a "senior director of business development" for CCA during the course of 2005, 2006 and 2007. CCA was not Brnovich's sole source of employment during at least part of this time. He also worked as a federal prosecutor while working for or on behalf of CCA during part of this time, according to the financial disclosure forms of his wife.
Statements of financial disclosure filed by Susan Brnovich, per her employment with the courts, are only available with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections dating back to 2005. There are no publicly-available records of Mark Brnovich's financial interests or employment prior to this point.
Biographical data submitted to the Arizona Legislature pursuant to Mark Brnovich's March 31, 2009, appointment as the director of the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) states that Mark Brnovich began his employment with CCA in 2005. Similarly, lobbyist records maintained by the Office of the Utah Lieutenant Governor show that Mark Brnovich was a registered lobbyist for CCA in that state during 2005 and 2006. (Utah lobby reports filed for Brnovich during 2006 and 2007 pertain to Brnovich lobby activity on behalf of CCA during 2005 and 2006).
It is also worth noting that, while statements of financial disclosure filed by Susan Brnovich do not reflect any continued financial interest in CCA beyond 2007, Mark Brnovich -- in neither his capacity as director of the Arizona Department of Gaming, or as chairman of the Arizona Commission on Privatization and Efficiency (to which he was appointed by Governor Jan Brewer in January of 2010) -- has been required to file any statement of financial disclosure, as Arizona law does not require agency or commission heads to file such disclosures.
Neither Mark Brnovich or CCA Senior Director of Public Affairs Steve Owen responded to multiple inquiries relating to either the nature or duration of Brnovich's employment with CCA.
Mark Brnovich worked as a CCA "senior director of business development" commencing in 2005, also appears to have coincided with the year in which Brnovich was also employed as the "director of the Center for Constitutional Government" at the influential Arizona group, the Goldwater Institute (for more on the Goldwater Institute, see).
Additionally, records indicate that Mark Brnovich served as a Maricopa County judge tempore throughout his entire tenure as "senior director of business development" for CCA.
The two worlds of Brnovich's public service/public policy development and for-profit prison corporation employment seem to have merged fully in 2007, a year in which Brnovich worked both on behalf/for CCA and for the federal government.
According to a lobbyist registration amendment filed with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections, Mark Brnovich was registered as an authorized lobbyist for CCA on February 7, 2007. According to this lobbyist registration form, Brnovich's travel, dining, lodging and out-of-pocket expenses were compensated for on behalf of CCA. According to a lobbyist registration amendment filed with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections, Mark Brnovich was removed as an authorized CCA lobbyist on December 21, 2007.
These authorized lobbyist registration/amendment forms pertaining to Mark Brnovich were filed by CCA designated lobbyist, and president/CEO of Policy Development Group (PDG), Ron Ober. At the time of Mark Brnovich's appointment as chairman of the Arizona Commission on Privatization and Efficiency by Governor Brewer in January 2010, longtime PDG CCA lobbyist Paul Senseman was employed in the Office of the Governor as communications director. During this period, Senseman's wife, Kathy Senseman, remained with PDG, lobbying on behalf of CCA.
Furthermore, it is interesting to note that CCA lobbyist expenditure reports disclose an apparent meeting between Paul Senseman and Brad Regens on February 2, 2007. Regens was, at the time of this meeting, director of fiscal policy in the Arizona House of Representatives. On November 27, 2007, CCA publicly announced the hiring of Regens as "senior director, state customer relations" (subsequently, Regens has become CCA "vice president, state partnership relations"). Regens, as is reflected by the December 21, 2007, CCA authorized lobbyist registration amendment notification filed by PDG president/CEO Ober, replaced Brnovich in his capacity as a CCA Arizona authorized lobbyist as Brnovich cycled out of the corporation. (For more on CCA's influence in Arizona during this period, see DBA Press or PRWatch.)
As required by Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 41-1232 (c) (the section of Arizona law that compels the filing of these lobbyist registration and amendment forms), "each principal [the entity employing lobbyists, in this case CCA] shall amend its registration statement within five business days of any change in the information required by subsection A."
ARS 41-1232 (a) requires that lobbyist principals report -- following the reporting schedule (and five business day requirement) promulgated by subsection C -- a number of different criteria relating to lobbyists they employ. Among these criteria are: "a description of the expenses for which each lobbyist is to be reimbursed by the principal," "duration of engagement of any lobbyist," and "the name and business address of each lobbyist for compensation or authorized lobbyist employed by, retained by or representing the principal."
In a nutshell, this means that any authorized lobbyist personnel change for a principal must be reported in the form of an authorized lobbyist registration/amendment submitted to the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections within five business days of the authorized lobbyist personnel change. In some states, lobbyist reporting laws allow principals or their lobbyists to file such reports of personnel changes quarterly or annually. This is not the case in Arizona. As such, if these CCA lobbyist registration/amendment forms were filed accurately and in accordance with Arizona law, Mark Brnovich was a registered lobbyist in the state of Arizona from within five business days of February 7, 2007, to somewhere within five business days of December 21, 2007.
CCA Senior Director of Public Affairs Steve Owen did not respond to a request for comment on whether the 2007 CCA lobbyist registration/amendment forms [which were provided to Owen] were accurate and filed in accordance with Arizona law.
Furthermore, corporate records on file with the Arizona Corporation Commission show that Mark Brnovich became a director of Foster Angels of Arizona Working Together, Inc. (Foster Angels, a non-profit corporation) on May 1, 2007. According to Arizona Corporation Commission records, information pertaining to Brnovich's role as director of Foster Angels was last updated on November 14, 2007. This information, as purportedly updated in November of 2007, gives Brnovich's address as 3131 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix (the source of this information, as reflected in Arizona Corporation Commission records, is the Foster Angels 2007 annual report, filed October 22, 2007). 3131 E. Camelback Road is the address of CCA's Phoenix corporate office [Note: this is a CCA "satellite" corporate office; CCA is a Maryland corporation headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.]
The Assistant U.S. Attorney
The reason for stressing the minutiae of Mark Brnovich's lobby activity/employment on behalf of CCA over the course of 2007 is this: according to a statement of financial disclosure filed by Susan Brnovich on January 24, 2008, Mark Brnovich had two sources of personal compensation over the course of calendar year 2007. Those two sources of compensation were: Corrections Corporation of America and the United States Attorney's Office.
Indeed, according to federal court records, Mark Brnovich, as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, was assigned as a prosecutor on eleven federal criminal cases (involving the prosecution of ten individuals) in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, from September though November of 2007.
In connection with these cases, four individuals served substantial pre-trial detention time (from between several months to a year and a half) in the custody of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), or in the custody of a "designated representative" thereof.
It is not known if such a "designated representative" in these specific cases was CCA, but two of CCA's facilities in Arizona primarily serve the federal court system: the Central Arizona Detention Center (2,304 beds) and the Florence Correctional Center (1,824 beds), both of which are located in Pinal County -- which neighbors Maricopa County and Phoenix, home to the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse, to the north; and Pima County and Tucson, home to the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, to the south. In 2007, CCA had a combined total of 4,128 detention and correctional "beds" under contract with the USMS. Arizona was the epicenter of CCA's involvement with USMS in 2007. Of the total 6,885 CCA beds under contract with USMS during that year, only 2,757 were located outside of the state of Arizona -- and of that number, 910 beds contracted with USMS were located in CCA's Torrance County Detention Facility, in Estancia, New Mexico, leaving the remaining USMS beds were scattered through three facilities in Leavenworth, Kansas (767 beds), Laredo, Texas (480 beds), and Mason, Tennessee (600 beds).
These four cases also resulted in a total combined 343 months (roughly 28.6 years, or approximately 10,290 days) of prison sentences to be served in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) by defendants convicted and sentenced through prosecutions of which Brnovich was a part, while apparently still employed by or on behalf of CCA. Brnovich commenced these prosecutions while still apparently working for or on behalf of CCA, but none of these defendants were sentenced until 2008. During the time of Brnovich's apparent career overlap between CCA and the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2007, CCA held contracts for the incarceration of BOP prisoners in the California City Correctional Facility (2,304 beds in California City, California), the McRae Correctional Facility (1,524 beds in McRae, Georgia), the Cibola County Correctional Center (1,129 beds in Milan, New Mexico), the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (2,016 beds in Youngstown, Ohio), and the Eden Detention Center (1,293 beds in Eden, Texas).
It is not known if any of these four prisoners were accommodated in any of these 8,266 CCA BOP beds,the vast majority of which were in the southwestern United States. What is know is that in 2007, CCA's per prisoner per diem rate with BOP likely ranged from between $50 to $90. These four Brnovich prosecutions resulted in approximately 10,290 days of sentenced BOP prison time and up to $514,500 to $926,100 in potential revenue for CCA, not including possible CCA revenue reaped through pre-trial detention of these defendants via contracts with USMS.
[Note: actual CCA BOP per diem rates for 2007 are not known. Furthermore, according to CCA SEC filings, per diem rates fluctuate between facilities based upon "actual or minimum guaranteed occupancy levels" specific to each contract. (For more "lockup quotas," see the new report by In the Public Interest: "Criminal--How Lockup Quotas and 'Low Crime Taxes' Guarantee Profits for Prison Corporations") The above-given range is a conservative estimate based on known current and past CCA per diem rates with a variety of governmental clients. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of the Federal Detention Trustee, the average per diem rate paid to a private contractor under a direct contract with USMS in 2007 was $86.20, but the state of Arizona currently contracts medium security beds with CCA at a per diem rate of $65.43 (these beds go online in 2014 at CCA's Red Rock Correctional Center, also located in Pinal County). Adjusting for per diem rate fluctuations as well as rate reductions in cost through contractual occupancy, a range of $50 to $90 per prisoner per diem is a fair, conservative estimate.
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to zero in on a more accurate per diem rate for CCA BOP contracts (or any other federal contracts with any private prison contractor) due to the fact that contracts between private prison contractors and federal agencies obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are consistently redacted to remove any information relating to per diem rates, or other payments, to the contractor. These redactions are applied to financial or other data pertaining to public-private partnerships under FOIA's "trade secret" exemption (5 United States Code, sec. 552 (b) 4). As such, while public tax dollars finance this industry (and other public-private partnership industries), it is next to impossible to determine the true cost/efficacy of such federal partnerships, absent the leaking of documents through the actions of whistleblowers.]
This is, however, a hell of a price tag to put on a possible conflict of interest.
This is not to suggest that boosting the corporation's bottom line through these prosecutions was either CCA's or Brnovich's intention.
However, CCA is dependent on federal detention and incarceration contracts for prisoners. As stated in CCA's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) annual report for 2007:
"We depend on a limited number of governmental customers for a significant portion of our revenues. We currently derive, and expect to continue to derive, a significant portion of our revenues from a limited number of governmental agencies. The loss of, or a significant decrease in, business from the BOP, ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement], USMS, or various state agencies could seriously harm our financial condition and results of operations." (emphasis in original)
CCA added that its three main contracts, with BOP, ICE, and USMS, "accounted for 40% of our total revenues for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007 ($594.8 million). The USMS accounted for 14% of our total revenues for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007 ($210.4 million), the BOP accounted for 13% of our total revenues for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007 ($189.9 million), and ICE accounted for 13% of our total revenues for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007 ($194.5 million). We expect to continue to depend upon the federal agencies and a relatively small group of other governmental customers for a significant percentage of our revenues."
Neither Brnovich or CCA Senior Director of Public Affairs Steve Owen responded to multiple inquiries relating to either the nature or duration of Brnovich's employment with CCA.
According to Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) General Counsel's Office Management Analyst Lucy Hurley, Assistant U.S. Attorneys are not required to file any financial disclosure other than a statement disclosing conflicts of interest, should any exist, with each individual case they are assigned. According to Hurley, these disclosures are known as EOUSA Forms GC01. The office's Public Affairs Officer Cosme Lopez initially stated that his office would be more than willing to aid in locating disclosure material, if any, pertaining to former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Brnovich, but subsequently Public Affairs Officer Debra Massey stated, on September 12, that no question relating to Brnovich (including such rudimentary questions such as those pertaining to Brnovich's dates of employment as an assistant U.S. attorney general), or any other matter, would be answered without the submission of a formal FOIA request, which DBA/CMD did but for which the federal government has not responded.
Brnovich also did not respond himself to repeated inquiries regarding potential conflicts of interest during this period.
Nevertheless, it is clear -- whether Brnovich disclosed this as a potential conflict of interest or not -- that he prosecuted these eleven federal criminal cases in the U.S. District Court of Arizona at a time when he was a registered lobbyist for CCA in the state of Arizona, and during a year when he had been employed by the for-profit prison corporation as a "senior director of business development."
Redskins and Greenbacks
Another interesting fact emerges from Brnovich's period of employment with CCA:
From January of 2004 to July of 2007, a team of in-house CCA lobbyists expended a total of $9,620,000 in lobbying a number of federal agencies -- most notably the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The sole specific lobbying issue identified by this group of CCA representatives on any of the lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives (House Clerk) or the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records during this period of time was the "privatization of BIA detention facilities." The only other lobbying purpose stated by this group of CCA lobbyists during this time was "legislation and regulatory activities related to the private prison industry."
This group of CCA lobbyists, only one of several teams of CCA federal lobbyists during this time period, consisted entirely of CCA executives and directors. This executive CCA lobby group was composed, at various times from 2004 through 2007 of: then-CCA Senior Vice President of Customer Relations Damon Hininger (Hininger became president and chief executive officer of CCA in 2009); CCA Senior Director of Federal Government Relations Jeremy Wiley; then-CCA Managing Director of Federal Partnership Relations Bart Verhulst; then-CCA Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Ken Bouldin; CCA Senior Vice President J. Michael Quinlan (a former BOP director); and then-CCA Executive Vice President and General Counsel Gustavus A. Puryear, IV.
All these men were either Brnovich's employers or colleagues during his time with CCA.
Puryear was nominated as a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee by President George W. Bush on June 13 of 2007. This nomination occurred while Puryear was still acting as a CCA executive vice president and general counsel. As a matter of fact, according to SEC records, Puryear purchased 31,100 shares of CCA stock through his employee stock options a little more than two months following his nomination, increasing his total CCA stock holdings at this time to more than 65,000 shares. Due to public outcry, Puryear's nomination was not confirmed. The public campaign against the confirmation of Puryear was organized largely by former CCA prisoner and current Prison Legal News Managing Editor Alex Friedmann. In response, CCA, through its corporate blog, "thecca360.com," published a graphic account of Friedmann's criminal history in an effort to discredit him and derail opposition to the Puryear nomination. After the failed nomination, Puryear departed from CCA in 2010 (he had been employed by CCA since 2001).
From July through December of 2007, this group of CCA lobbyists expended an additional $1,320,000 in lobby activities that included the explicit purpose of lobbying on the issue of the privatization of BIA detention facilities. During the second half of 2007, this CCA executive lobby group also commenced lobbying activities against the Private Prison Information Act of 2007 ("PPIA 2007"), this bill would have brought private prison corporations under contract with federal agencies under the purview of the Freedom of Information Act. CCA vehemently opposed PPIA 2007, as well as PPIA 2009 and PPIA 2011. For more on CCA's opposition to PPIA, see FAIR's analysis), as well as the Public Safety Act (PSA), which would have banned federal use of private prisons/detention centers.
This group of CCA executives/lobbyists added the i "code" for immigration policy to their list of general lobby activity for the first time in 2007, though no specific bill was identified during that year. This is not to say that this was the genesis of CCA's interest in immigrant detention. This was simply the first time this issue code had been used by this set of lobbyists. Lobby reports filed by the CCA executive lobbyist group from 2008 to 2010 and beyond show a distinct shift of focus from BIA detention facility privatization to activity more centered on matters relating to ICE immigrant detention.
According to lobby disclosure records filed with both the House Clerk and Senate Office of Public Records, the CCA executive lobby group did expend an additional $2,010,000 on lobby activity from 2008 through 2009 that included the lobbying of BIA on "issues related to the private prison industry," although this activity does not appear to have been the primary focus of lobby efforts as it was during 2004 through 2007. The sole explicitly-stated issues identified by the CCA executive lobby group during 2008 and 2009 pertained to PPIA, PSA, the Prison Safe Communications Act, and several appropriations bills relating to ICE immigrant detention. According to federal lobby records, the CCA executive lobby group ceased all BIA lobby activity after the fourth quarter of 2009.
Interestingly, the quarterly average of lobbying expenditures reported by the CCA executive lobby group dropped markedly with the outset of this shift in focus from the privatization of BIA detention centers to matters of immigrant detention and other legislation. To illustrate: from 2004 through 2007 (the sole explicitly-stated purpose from January 2004 through July o2007 being the privatization of BIA detention facilities) this group of CCA lobbyists reported an average expenditure of $672,500 per quarter. [By comparison, lobby expenditures reported by this CCA executive lobby group dropped to $251,250 per quarter during 2008 and 2009 -- a time when their BIA lobby efforts had clearly slackened.
[It is noteworthy that BIA-centered lobby activity peaked from July through December of 2005 with $2,260,000 in reported expenditures. While other general private prison industry-related legislative/regulatory affairs are alluded to in lobby reports filed by this group from 2004 through mid-2007, the weight of lobby activity directed toward BIA can be gauged by the 2006 mid year report. While all other reports filed by this group of CCA lobbyists from 2004 through 2007 (reports from this period were filed in half year increments, rather than quarterly) range from $1,120,000 to more than $2 million, the 2006 mid-year report disclosed a lobby expenditure of only $880,000. By way of rationalizing this drastic lobby expenditure drop, consider this: this report was the sole report filed by this group of CCA lobbyists from 2004 through 2007 that did not list lobbying activity directed specifically at BIA]
So why would the federal lobby expenditures of this group of CCA executives drop off so drastically as they change their focus to the much larger and more lucrative field of immigrant detention? One consideration to bear in mind is this: this is only one group of CCA federal lobbyists -- over the years CCA has employed multiple firms lobbying on issues related to immigrant detention, so this may not have been the priority focus of the executive lobby group.
Another consideration is this: at various times over the course of 2009 and 2010 CCA, Geo Group, and Management Training Corporation were part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It was at the December 2009 ALEC meeting that then-Arizona Senator and ALEC leader Russell Pearce introduced a piece of immigration legislation to the ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force (PS&E), a task force which CCA previously chaired and which it had been active member for almost two decades. This "model bill," once adopted by corporate lobbyists and legislators through ALEC (through an unanimous vote, in which CCA claims it took part), became known as the "No Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act," otherwise known as "SB 1070," upon its introduction to the Arizona State Legislature, a month and a half later, in mid-January of 2010.
This bill -- which effectively would essentially compel every municipal, county and state law enforcement officer to perform the duties of immigration enforcement officers under certain circumstances -- was promoted to state lawmakers nationwide through ALEC, which was funded in part by private prison companies and other national corporations like Koch Industries, the National Rifle Association, and the American Bail Coalition.CCA and the other private prison companies also funded ALEC's PS&E task force, which distributed the bill.
As such, it could be argued that a substantial portion of CCA's business growth model may have shifted to the state level around the period of 2009 and 2010, as state immigrant detention policies began to get traction. For more on this, see DBA Press or PR Watch.
Parts of SB 1070 have been struck down by the courts. Notably, one of the roles of the Attorney General is to defend state legislation like SB 1070 in state and federal court challenges.
So, in broad strokes, what are we looking at here? From all these numbers, a clear pattern emerges: from 2004 through 2007, CCA executives expended almost $11 million lobbying, primarily for their sole explicitly-stated lobbying purpose: the privatization of Bureau of Indian Affairs detention centers. These years overlap with the known years of Mark Brnovich's employment with or on behalf of CCA (2005 through 2007). These facts may provide an interesting insight into the possible nature of Brnovich's employment with or on behalf of CCA.
Brnovich is an attorney who specializes in tribal law and tribal government. During Brnovich's work as an assistant attorney general under then-Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull over the course of 1998 through 2002. (Brnovich stated in materials provided to the Arizona Senate that he worked as an assistant attorney general through 2003. The Hull administration ended in January 2003) Through that work, Brnovich developed ties within Arizona tribal governments, as well as experience with tribal law and state-tribal relationships. This is attested to in Brnovich's own words to the Arizona Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development during the confirmation hearing on his appointment as director of the Arizona Department of Gaming, May 19, 2009:
"My resume and biography summarize my experience in matters involving Indian gaming, and I believe I am well qualified and well suited for this position. For example, I represented the Department of Gaming from 1998 through 2003, which was a very critical period. These were the pivotal years in which we negotiated the current [tribal] gaming compacts under which we operate. Additionally, that was a time period in which the state of Arizona and the indigenous tribes strengthened their cooperative relationships. Immediately prior to my appointment, I was an assistant United States attorney here in the District of Arizona, where I focused primarily on gambling and casino-related crimes. During this period I have successfully worked with federal, state and tribal regulators, and police agencies to prosecute criminal activity and coordinate crime prevention programs."
Indeed, of the ten individuals Brnovich prosecuted during his period of apparent overlap between employment by/on behalf of CCA, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona, all but one of these individuals were accused of either crimes committed against casinos operated by Indian tribes on Indian lands (pertaining to thefts/embezzlements perpetrated against casinos owned and located within the Salt River Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community, in or near the Phoenix metropolitan area), or against Indian individuals committed in "Indian Country" (specifically, Navajo male accused of deliberately wounding another Navajo male with a .22 caliber rifle on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona).
It is not known if the BIA itself was involved in any of the arrests, investigations, or in the detention of any of the defendants in Brnovich's 2007 federal prosecutions, but it is clear that Brnovich, through the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona, had his fingers deep in Indian Country at a time when he was -- in the least, since he had also been employed as a "senior director of business development" for CCA during the same year -- a registered lobbyist for a corporation that had a clear and documented desire for profits derived from the incarceration of Indians.
Just as Arizona was the focal point of CCA's involvement with the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) in 2007, and as Arizona was the epicenter of state-based immigration enforcement via "model legislation" from CCA-funded ALEC in 2009 and 2010, Arizona is an excellent starting point for any for-profit prison corporation looking to incarcerate Indians. The state contains nearly 240,000 members of 22 tribes, living on nearly 15 million acres of tribal land. Perhaps most notably, the bulk of the Navajo Nation (consisting of the Navajo Reservation and Navajo Nation off-reservation trust land) is contained within Arizona.
This combined Navajo land, which spreads out from northern Arizona into northwestern New Mexico and southeast Utah (a state in which Brnovich was also registered as a CCA lobbyist), is the largest and most heavily populated piece of Indian Country within the borders of the United States, with 173,667 total residents, according to 2010 Census Bureau data. By comparison, the Navajo Reservation's population dwarfs the nation's second most populous reservation, the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma, total population 47,472. All told, five of the top ten most populous Indian reservations in the United States fall within the political boundaries of Arizona.
The Native American populations of Arizona's reservations are policed by a mixture of tribal officers, BIA Division of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice (Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Attorney's Office), and -- to the degree where tribal gaming operations are concerned -- by the Arizona Department of Gaming and the National Indian Gaming Commission.
According to BIA spokeswoman Nedra Darling, CCA previously held contracts for the management of BIA detention facilities in North Dakota and Wyoming, although these facilities are no longer managed by CCA. BIA was not able to provide dates for these contracts. According to Darling, the only current tribal CCA contract on record with BIA (though it is not clear what role BIA plays in this contract) is for the detention of Pascua Yaqi (a reservation located in Pima County, Arizona) tribal members at the Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence, Arizona. Available records indicate that this contract was likely initiated in 1996.
Neither Brnovich or CCA Senior Director of Public Affairs Steve Owen responded to multiple inquiries relating to either the nature or duration of Brnovich's employment with CCA. Brnovich did not respond to multiple inquiries relating to any role his tribal governmental/criminal justice expertise may have played in his employment with CCA.
A Weak Attempt at Deflection
DBA/CMD attempted several times over the course of September 12, 13 and 16 to obtain comments/information regarding several facets of Brnovich's employment with CCA and the U.S. Attorney's Office by contacting Brnovich directly. Over the course of these dates, detailed sets of questions were submitted directly to both Brnovich and his assistant, Kylie Ketchum, through their Arizona Department of Gaming email addresses. Furthermore, DBA/CMD attempted to reach Brnovich by phone at his ADG office on both September 12 and 13. In both instances, DBA/CMD spoke with Ketchum, who advised DBA/CMD that she would forward requests for comment/contact on to Brnovich. Although Brnovich never responded to any of these attempts at contact, on September 16, DBA/CMD was contacted byArizona Department of Gaming (ADG) Assistant Director Rick Medina. In an email Medina stated:
"I received the attached email that you sent to the Arizona Department of Gaming. During his time as a public employee, Mr. Brnovich has never received any compensation from Corrections Corporation of America ... The other questions in your email go beyond the scope of gaming regulatory issues, therefore this agency has no information regarding those topics."
When asked to elaborate on his statement that Brnovich "has never received compensation" from CCA while serving as a "public employee" -- given the fact that Medina's scope of knowledge and ability to answer questions is limited only to the world of ADG -- Medina offered the following during a phone interview:
"People that work for the Department of Gaming are very carefully screened about their background investigations that are ongoing, even when folks are here, to confirm that they are -- I don't know how much you know about the gaming industry, but it's a very highly regulated industry. Nobody works as a regulator, or even as an employee of a casino, without being confirmed as being appropriate to work in this industry. And one of the things that you can rest assured is that people operating here at the Department of Gaming have been checked out and cleared for this type of regulatory work -- and that would certainly preclude any type of conflicts of interest...."
But what of Brnovich's employment record prior to his 2010 appointment to ADG? With regard to any potential conflicts of interest stemming from Brnovich's employment by both the U.S. Attorney's Office and CCA during 2007, Medina stated "I really don't have any personal information on that," and referred further inquiry to the U.S. Attorney's Office and CCA.
When asked if ADG had looked into that period of Brnovich's life (in 2007, where the apparent U.S. Attorney's Office and CCA overlap occurred) while conducting their screening process, Medina stated: "look, I can tell you everybody here is very carefully screened to make sure that they [can] be regulators, but as far as any details about his previous jobs or anything that he did with the federal government, those folks would be in a better position to answer those types of questions."
As previously noted, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona has refused to answer any questions relating to Brnovich's employment, or disclosure of conflicts of interest, without a formal FOIA request. Such a request has been filed with both the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office and the Executive Office of the United States Attorney. These requests have not been answered.
Neither Brnovich or CCA Senior Director of Public Affairs Steve Owen responded to multiple inquiries relating to either the nature or duration of Brnovich's employment with CCA.
What was the rigorous screening process that Brnovich was subject to following his nomination as ADG director in late March of 2010?
DBA/CMD submitted a public records request to ADG for copies of any and all records pertaining to background checks conducted regarding Mark Brnovich. In response, Medina delivered (on September 18) a grand total of three pages of documents: a letter from then-Arizona Senate President Bob Burns to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennet, announcing the Senate's approval and confirmation of Brnovich's appointment (dated May 26, 2009); a congratulatory letter from Governor Brewer (an ALEC alum whose closest advisors include former CCA reps) to Brnovich notifying Brnovich of the Senate's confirmation of his post (dated May 28, 2009); and a loyalty oath signed by Brnovich (dated April 20, 2009).
In the loyalty oath, he pledged that as Director of the Arizona Department of Gaming he would support and defend "against all enemies, foreign and domestic" the constitutions and laws of both Arizona and the United States. Brnovich also agreed that, should he commit, aid or advocate "the commission of any act to overthrow by force, violence or terrorism [...] the government of this state or any of its political subdivisions," he would be discharged from office without compensation, or future compensation -- including any benefits. As stout as this oath of office may be, at no point in the oath was Brnovich asked to address any past potential conflicts of interests.
Beyond these ADG records, a confirmation hearing on Brnovich's ADG nomination was held before Arizona Senate Committee on Commerce and Economic Development (CCED) on May 19, 2009. As part of this confirmation process, Brnovich provided the committee with biographical data, which consisted of a two-page resume. According to the office of Arizona Senate Resources, this is the sole piece of documentation pertaining to the Brnovich ADG nomination on file with the Senate. That document disclosed both his past employment with CCA (dates given as "2005-2007") and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona (dates given as "2007-2009").
During this confirmation hearing for the state's gaming regulation office -- which lasted exactly two minutes and fifty-seven seconds (including Brnovich's statement, questions, unanimous vote for confirmation, and congratulations) -- Senators had the opportunity to ask Brnovich questions pertaining to his suitability for the position, employment history and any potential past or present conflicts of interest. Only one question, posed by then-CCED Chair Sen. Barbara Leff, was asked of Brnovich during the hearing.
Leff: "The only question -- I've been saying 'Brnovich' all this time. It's 'Brnovich'?"
Brnovich: "'Brnovich', 'Brnovich.'"
Leff: "Well, which is correct?"
Brnovich: "Well, my wife says 'Brnovich,' my sister says 'Bronovich,' I say 'Brnovich,' so... [laughter in the committee room shared by all...] Tomato, tomahto..."
Leff: [still laughing] "Okay, okay, thank you."
On September 18, DBA/CMD submitted a public records request to the Office of Arizona Governor Brewer seeking any and all records pertaining to Brnovich's appointments to, or assessments for suitability, as ABG Director and COPE Chairman. The governor's office has not yet responded to this request.
CCA 2007 annual report and CCA executive lobby group reports 2004 through 2009:
-- CCA Securities and Exchange Commission 2007 form 10-K (annual report).
-- 2004 mid year.
-- 2004 year end.
-- 2005 mid year.
-- 2005 year end.
-- 2006 mid year.
-- 2006 year end.
-- 2007 mid year.
-- 2007 year end.
-- 2008 Q1.
-- 2008 Q2.
-- 2008 Q3.
-- 2008 Q3 Amended.
-- 2008 Q4.
-- 2009 Q1.
-- 2009 Q2.
-- 2009 Q3.
-- 2009 Q4.
Brnovich 2007 federal prosecutions:
Brnovich disclosures and records relating to Brnovich employment history:
Beau Hodai is the author of CMD's in-depth study Dissent or Terror: How the Nation's Counter Terrorism Apparatus, in Partnership with Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street. Find more of his investigations DBA Press. This article is republished with the permission of DBA Press, which holds the copyright thereto.