From Florida to Wisconsin, governors have outsourced public services to private firms that have made healthy campaign contributions or hired powerful lobbyists.
But the moves — often pitched as a way to save taxpayer dollars — have resulted in scandals, lawsuits and worse outcomes for the public, according to a new report from a Madison-based liberal research group.
The Center for Media and Democracy in its report "Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of Public Services," argues that the national trend of outsourcing is an experiment gone badly wrong.
The report puts some of the blame at the feet of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has long urged state lawmakers to replace public sector services with private ones.
“Governors across the nation seem to be reading out of the ALEC playbook, attempting to shrink government by selling off the profitable services to private companies,” Lisa Graves, executive director of the CMD, said in a statement. “While success stories are hard to find, fiascos are thick on the ground.”
One of the most shocking examples cited in the report is the outsourcing of Michigan’s prison food services by Gov. Rick Snyder to a private contractor who served up maggots on the plate, allowed sexual contact with inmates, smuggling of cocaine and heroin and an alleged murder-for-hire plot.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott championed a plan to drug test state employees and welfare recipients, a move that would have benefitted a drug testing company he invests in, according to the report.
And in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker heads the new quasi-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which has handed out awards to Walker campaign donors and firms that have offshored jobs.
According to one report, Walker donors ended up getting 60 percent of the funding from WEDC even though they made up only 30 percent of the recipients.