The private prison behemoth GEO Group became the first corporation whose PAC maxed out to former President Donald Trump’s campaign in late February, according to a CREW analysis of campaign finance records. That same month, the company used a subsidiary to give an additional $500,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC. 

The $5,000 contribution that GEO Group’s PAC gave to Trump’s campaign was part of a larger $15,000 contribution it gave to the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, a PAC that raises money for Trump’s campaign and his leadership PAC, Save America, which has spent tens of millions of dollars on Trump’s legal bills. On the same day, the JFC also reported receiving two contributions of $11,600 each from two GEO Group executives, founder and board chairman George Zoley and CEO Brian Evans. 

The $500,000 contribution that GEO Group gave to Make America Great Again, a pro-Trump super PAC, came from a subsidiary called GEO Acquisition II Inc. That same subsidiary made another sizable contribution last December to Project Rescue America, a super PAC that supports Senator Rick Scott, who was one of eight senators who voted against certifying the 2020 election.

Trump and Scott are not outliers in GEO Group’s political giving. Since the January 6 insurrection, GEO Group’s PAC has donated to more than 32 members of the Sedition Caucus—the 147 members of Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election and, later, the 22 new members who won in the 2022 midterms promoting the Big Lie that the election was stolen. In all, the company’s PAC has given more than $266,000 to these members and the two party committees that support them, the NRSC and the NRCC. 

GEO Group has a long history of disproportionately supporting Trump and other Republican candidates. In the midst of the 2016 presidential election, the Justice Department announced a plan to phase out the use of private prisons. The day after this announcement, GEO Group donated $100,000 to Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump super PAC, through a subsidiary. In November 2016, the company donated another $125,000. Earlier that year, the company’s PAC contributed an additional $50,000 to the same super PAC. After Trump won the election, GEO Group donated $250,000 to his inauguration committee. In every election cycle since 2004, besides 2008 and 2010, the company’s PAC donated tens of thousands—and at times hundreds of thousands—more to Republican candidates than their Democratic counterparts.

Beyond its political donations, GEO Group has also lined Trump’s pockets by spending at Trump businesses. In 2017, the company broke tradition and held its conference at Trump Doral rather than its own headquarters, and its Vice President had stayed at Trump’s DC Hotel at least 10 times by June 2019.  

While GEO Group’s profits from the federal government have continued to grow under the Biden administration, the number of new contracts awarded to the company is dramatically less than in the Trump administration. In fiscal year 2017, the company received 40 new contracts. In fiscal year 2020, the last full year of Trump’s administration, it received 87—a record high, and more than it’s been granted during any year of Biden’s time in office. If re-elected, Trump has also promised to carry out an extreme immigration agenda that includes detaining undocumented people already in the United States in “vast holding facilities” yet to be built. 

GEO Group headquarters photo via Wikimedia commons under a Creative Commons license

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