Michael Bloomberg, the wealthiest 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, used prison labor to make campaign calls, The Intercept reported Tuesday. The former New York City mayor’s campaign contracted a New Jersey-based call center company dubbed ProCom, which runs two of its call centers out of state prisons. According to an Intercept source, inmates at a minimum-security women’s prison were making calls to California and were required to disclose at the end of the calls that they were paid by the Bloomberg campaign. “We didn’t know about this and we never would have allowed it if we had,” said Bloomberg spokesperson Julie Wood, adding, “We don’t believe in this practice and we’ve now ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question.” The Bloomberg campaign ended its relationship with ProCom after The Intercept’s report.
Alex Friedmann, managing editor of Prison Legal News, said that 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.” Friedmann added, “Well, shouldn’t you know? Shouldn’t you have some idea of your supply stream, or what your downside supply stream is doing?”