Prison and human rights watchdog organizations blasted the nominee to lead the U.S. Marshals Service, claiming her prior work as a consultant in the prison industry would present a conflict of interest if she is confirmed, The Washington Times reported Wednesday.
The groups said they oppose U.S. Marshals Service Director nominee Stacia Hylton because of the time she spent earlier this year as consultant for GEO Group, one of the biggest private prison businesses. The company receives millions of dollars from U.S. Marshals contracts.
“It is extremely worrisome that Ms. Hylton is nominated for a position where she would be directly involved with overseeing contracts with private prison companies to house federal detainees, given her cozy relationship with the private prison industry and her acceptance of more than $100,000 from GEO through her consulting work,” Ken Kopczynski, director of Private Corrections Working Group, a non-profit organization that opposes prison privatization, said in a statement.
Hylton received $112,500 in consulting fees from The GEO Group Inc., which contracted with her Virginia-based firm, Hylton Kirk & Associates. But the White House said she won’t need a waiver from President Barack Obama’s ethics rules, which prohibit appointees for two years from handling issues with recent clients.
“After review, it was determined … she could easily be recused from participating in particular matters in which that client was a party,” a White House official told The Washington Times. “This recusal, along with the Obama administration’s ethics pledge and other ethics restrictions, will ensure that she can serve ably and effectively as director of the U.S. Marshals Service.”
Hylton, who worked for the U.S. Marshals service from 1980 to 2004, received praise from the National Sheriffs’ Association. Sheriff B.J. Roberts, the group’s president, and Aaron D. Kennard, the executive director, wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Hylton has “extraordinary qualifications, experience and expertise.”
Hylton held various leadership posts in the U.S. Marshals Service, including Acting Deputy Director. She also served as the Federal Detention Trustee from 2004 to 2010. Hylton, who was nominated Sept. 20, would replace John Clark, who President George W. Bush appointed in 2006.
Hylton and Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator nominee Michele Leonhart, who also faces opposition, will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on Wednesday. Organizations that support the legalization of marijuana have criticized Leonhart for her efforts to enforce pot laws.