A private prison company has moved its annual conference to a golf resort owned by Donald Trump in an apparent bid to show its desire to align with the US President. Until this year, the GEO Group held its conference at venues near its Boca Raton headquarters, a city on the southeastern coast of Florida.
But this year the company, which owns and manages about 140 prison and detention centres, gathered for the four-day event at the luxurious Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami, the Washington Post reports. According to the report, GEO Group held a meeting at the Trump golf resort once before in 2007, before Mr Trump purchased the property.
An investigation into the company’s activities found the GEO Group secured the Trump administration’s first contract for a detention centre reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars a year. This comes after the company’s spending on lobbying and donations rose sharply during the 2016 election cycle, with nearly half a million dollars donated to Mr Trump’s
inaugural committee and to a pro-Trump super PAC, an organisation which can raise unlimited funds from individuals and corporations to support a political candidate. In February, early in his presidency, The Hill reported Mr Trump rolled back plans under the Obama administration to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons.
The GEO Group did not answer the Post’s questions about the company’s political activities or about the costs of renting out the golf resort. In a statement, the company said: “Over the years it has held company and employee meetings at a variety of venues around the country and as a Florida-based company, we have held meetings throughout the state, including at Doral.”
It added the company “did not take a position on, or advocate for or against, criminal justice, sentencing, immigration enforcement or detention policies” but that its lobbying activities “focus on promoting the benefits of public-private partnerships”.
The Trump Organisation did not respond to a request for comment and a White House official said it did not know the GEO Group event was taking place. Mr Trump no longer manages his company but the use of one of his resorts for government-related events has previously raised concerns of conflict of interest.