Democratic Presidential Candidate Michael Bloomberg just had an awkward moment when The Intercept reported that his campaign was using prison labor to make calls on his behalf. Their report states that the Bloomberg campaign “contracted New Jersey-based call center company ProCom, which runs calls centers in New Jersey and Oklahoma,” through a third-party vendor.
Two of the Oklahoma call centers are run out of state prisons and at least one of the facilities used prisoners to make calls on behalf of the candidate’s campaign. A course told The Intercept that “people incarcerated at the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, a minimum-security women’s prison with a capacity of more than 900, were making calls to California on behalf of Bloomberg.”
The inmates were required to let the people on the other line know that the calls were “paid for by the Bloomberg campaign.” However, they did not state that they were calling from a prison.
In a statement given to The Intercept, the campaign claimed they “didn’t know about this and wee never would have allowed it if we had,” adding that they have “ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question.”
Prison labor has been a controversial issue with some claiming that the practice amounts to a form of slavery. ProCom co-founder John Scallan told The Intercept that the company pays the Oklahoma Department of Corrections $7.25 per hour — which is the state’s minimum wage. The agency then pays inmates about $20 per month.
Bloomberg also released a statement on Tuesday acknowledging that the report was “fundamentally accurate.” But he claims that he was not aware that the company was using prison labor to make calls for his campaign.
“Earlier today, a news outlet reported that prison workers were being used by a subcontractor to make telephone calls on behalf of my campaign,” he said. “I’m not attacking the news: the story was fundamentally accurate.”
He then explained that his campaign “only learned about this when the reporter called us.” He added, “but as soon as we discovered which vendor’s subcontractor had done this, we immediately ended our relationship with the company and the people who hired them.”
So is Bloomberg telling the truth? There is currently no evidence showing that members of his campaign team knew about ProCom’s use of prison labor. Moreover, it seems unlikely that someone as wealthy as Bloomberg would take such a risk just to save a few bucks. But it does show an alarming lack of diligence on the part of his campaign.
But imagine what would happen had Bloomberg been a Republican candidate? Would the progressive media give him the benefit of the doubt? Not likely. They would react with their usual faux outrage and claim it was not a mistake. But since Bloomberg plays for the right team, this will likely be the last we will hear of this story.
Follow me on Twitter: @JeffOnTheRight