Former New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg admitted that he used prison labor to make campaign calls but has since stopped.
According to a report by The Intercept, Bloomberg contracted with the New Jersey-based call center company ProCom, two of whose centers in Oklahoma are operated out of state prisons. At least one - the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center - The Intercept discovered, was making calls on Bloomberg’s behalf.
“The people were required to end their calls by disclosing that the calls were paid for by the Bloomberg campaign,” The Intercept reported. “They did not disclose, however, that they were calling from behind bars.”
The Bloomberg campaign confirmed its contract with ProCom but told The Intercept that until it brought the matter of the company using prison labor to its attention, the campaign was unaware. As soon as it was informed, a spokesperson told the press that, “We don’t believe in this practice and we’ve ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question.”
Bloomberg entered the Democratic presidential race in November and is vying against candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Ranked by Forbes as the eighth-richest American, Bloomberg has spent more on campaign ads in the last few weeks than his main Democratic rivals have all year. He has already hired 200 staffers in 21 states and spent more than $76 million in TV ads, according to The Intercept.He has so far failed to crack into the top tier of candidates in public opinion polls.A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll conducted on Dec. 18-19 showed about 5% of Democratic-leaning voters support the billionaire former mayor of New York. Recent polls show former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren are the party's leading candidates. The Intercept also noted that prison labor has been used in at least one other federal election.