It’s enough to make you choke on a turkey bone. The 2020 campaign being run by the multibillionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been using prison labor to conduct telephone calls, according to a report by The Intercept on Dec. 24.
The New Jersey-based call center company known as ProCom has been utilized by Bloomberg’s campaign, which operates call centers located in Oklahoma and New Jersey. Two of the call centers in Oklahoma work from state prisons. Prisoners have been making calls to residents in California on behalf of Bloomberg’s campaign.
Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center is a minimum-security women’s prison that can house over 900 prisoners, and one anonymous source alleges that they were making phone calls and the source told The Intercept.
Prisoners would end their conversations by telling listeners the call was paid for by the Bloomberg campaign but were omitting they were calling from prison.
Bloomberg’s campaign told The Intercept when questioned about the issue that they had no idea the calls were being made from prison.
“We didn’t know about this, and we never would have allowed it if we had,” said Bloomberg spokeswoman Julie Wood. “We don’t believe in this practice, and we’ve now ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question.” They ended the arrangement with the sub-contractor on Monday, Dec. 23.
“The use of prison labor is the continued exploitation of people who are locked up, who really have virtually no other opportunities to have employment or make money other than the opportunities given to them by prison officials,” said Alex Friedmann, managing editor of Prison Legal News and an advocate for incarcerated people’s rights after the issue was brought to their attention.
According to The Intercept, John Scallan, a ProCom co-founder, said his company pays the Oklahoma minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, which then pays the incarcerated people working in the call centers. The Department of Corrections website lists the maximum monthly wage for the incarcerated at $20 a month, but another policy document says there is a maximum payment of $27.09 per month.
According to Forbes, Michael Bloomberg is worth $54 billion. He has already thrown millions at his run for president, hiring more than 200 staffers in 21 states and spending over $76 million in television advertisements. He is prepared to spend billions on his campaign in an attempt to become the next president.