Bloomberg campaign says it was unaware prison labor was used to make calls

Bloomberg campaign says it was unaware prison labor was used to make calls
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Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Democratic groups using Bloomberg money to launch M in Spanish language ads in Florida Bloomberg pays fines for 32,000 felons in Florida so they can vote MORE’s Democratic presidential campaign said it was unaware that prison labor was used to make campaign calls through a third-party vendor and has canceled the use of the subcontractor. 

The campaign said it became aware of the use of incarcerated people to make calls after an inquiry from The Intercept.

"We didn't know about this and we never would have allowed it if we had. We don't believe in this practice and we've now ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question," campaign spokesperson Julie Wood told The Hill in a statement. 

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The Bloomberg campaign contracted New Jersey–based call center ProCom through a third party vendor, The Intercept reported.  

Two of ProCom’s call centers are in Oklahoma and are operated out of state prisons, and in at least two centers incarcerated people were contracted to make calls on behalf of the Bloomberg campaign, according to The Intercept. 

The Bloomberg campaign said it has asked vendors to do a better job of vetting subcontractors moving forward. 

An unidentified source told The Intercept people incarcerated at the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center were making calls to California on behalf of the Bloomberg campaign. 

A spokesperson for ProCom was not immediately available for comment. 

ProCom co-founder John Scallan told The Intercept his company pays the Oklahoma minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, which pays it to the incarcerated people working in call centers. 

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The Department of Corrections website lists incarcerated people can make up to $20 per month, but Scallan told The Intercept people who work for ProCom make more. 

“I can tell you unequivocally that is not us,” Scallan said. “Some of them are making that much every day.”

In a statement to The Hill, Procom said its efforts are intended to help those incarcerated "get their lives back." 

“A lot of politicians and advocacy organizations say they want to tackle the recidivism problem that plagues our country’s criminal justice system. But Procom does more than pay lip service to this serious problem,” a ProCom spokesperson said. “As our employees will tell you, we help them get their lives back and be productive members of society—and positive influences on their families.”