Mike Bloomberg said Tuesday he didn’t know his campaign had hired a call center company that operated out of state prisons and that he had “immediately ended” the campaign’s relationship with the company as soon as he found out.
According to a story on The Intercept, the Bloomberg campaign had hired a New Jersey-based call center company ProCom, which has two call centers operating out of a state prison in Oklahoma.
The Intercept report says that prisoners at a minimum-security women’s prison in Eastern Oklahoma were making calls to California 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 released a statement Tuesday saying the report was accurate and that they “only learned about this when the reporter called” asking about the practice.
“We immediately ended our relationship with the company and the people who hired them,” the statement read. “We do not support this practice and we are making sure our vendors more properly vet their subcontractors moving forward.”
Bloomberg campaign responds to that Intercept story. pic.twitter.com/CYdbcNwZev— Asma Khalid (@asmamk) December 24, 2019
Bloomberg, 77, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, officially announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in late November. He’s considered one of the richest people in the world, with a net worth of about $56 billion, behind his eponymous financial news outlet.
The presidential candidate has been criticized by social justice reform advocates for pushing a “stop-and-frisk” policing tactic while mayor of New York City, which allowed police to detain individuals on the suspicion they committed a crime and disproportionately targeted minorities.
“I can’t change history,” Bloomberg said, apologizing in a speech a black church in November, according to the Associated Press. “However today, I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong.”
Bloomberg has also stayed silent on whether he believes incarcerated individuals should have the right to vote, according to the Washington Post.
The former mayor jumped into a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates, campaigning on his experience as New York City’s mayor and on his mission of defeating President Donald Trump.
“We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions,” Bloomberg wrote in his campaign announcement.
President Trump was impeached in mid-December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He will face a Senate trial early next year, where he’s expected to be quickly acquitted of the charges by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Bloomberg has flipped back-and-forth between running as a Republican, Independent, and now a Democrat, again. In late 2018, he posted a photo of himself re-registering as a Democrat on Instagram.
“At key points in U.S. history, one of the two parties has served as a bulwark against those who threaten our Constitution. Two years ago at the Democratic Convention, I warned of those threats,” Bloomberg wrote. “Today, I have re-registered as a Democrat — I had been a member for most of my life — because we need Democrats to provide the checks and balance our nation so badly needs.”