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Harrison Campaign: “Illicit” Pay-for-Play Details Emerge Regarding Wellpath’s Corruption

insidernj.com, May 18, 2020. https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/harriso...

“Illicit” Pay-for-Play Details Emerge Regarding Wellpath’s Corruption

Amy Kennedy Continues to Dodge Questions Regarding Health Care Company

[May 18, 2020 – Longport, New Jersey] Twenty-six days ago, the NJ Globe first reported that during the first quarter of her political campaign, Wellpath, a corrupt, for-profit, out-of-state, health care company, placed Amy Kennedy’s husband, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy on their Board, while also bundling thousands of dollars to her campaign.  Wellpath has been notorious for providing fatally poor care in immigration detention centers where ICE has locked up thousands of immigrants and is well-known for providing substandard medical care to a network of for-profit prison.  The company has been the subject of more than 70 wrongful death lawsuits and 1,395 federal lawsuits in over 120 locations in 32 states.

Now, a series of new details continue to emerge of a far larger pay-for-play scheme conducted by Wellpath demonstrating how the company uses campaign contributions – like the ones given to Amy – in order to secure government contracts.  Around the same time the company was providing gifts to the Kennedys, Prison Legal News chronicled how during a 12-year period, Wellpath had contributed over $40,000 dollars to Virginia’s Loudoun County Sheriff’s race.  And in neighboring Norfolk, Virginia, Wellpath was charged with of an “illicit quid pro quo” to maintain government contracts and is currently under federal investigation.

It was learned that over a year ago, a coalition of advocacy organizations including Randi Weingarten President, American Federation of Teachers; Scott Roberts, Color of Change; Saqib Bhatti, Action Center on Race and the Economy; and Bianca Tylek, Corrections Accountability Project had requested a meeting with H.I.G Capital to share their concerns regarding the firm’s investments in Wellpath and the company’s practices.

“It’s clear, Wellpath is a terribly corrupt company and Amy’s association has created a dark cloud over her campaign,” stated Brigid Callahan Harrison, Democratic candidate for New Jersey’s second congressional district. “As we saw last week, Amy’s continued strategy of dodging, ducking, dipping, and diving tough questions shows little respect or for the truth, but for the good of the party, I urge her to come clean.  Every day that Amy continues to dodge calls to return Wellpath’s poison money, every day Amy ducks calls to explain the relationship her husband has as a newly appointed Wellpath Board member, more and more concerns surface.  A pattern is emerging here.  Amy needs to stop hiding, stop with the excuses, and just answer the questions.”

Since becoming a candidate for Congress, Amy has dodged serious allegations from the press regarding her relationship with convicted criminal and Atlantic City political boss Craig Callaway and continues to refuse to answer whether she paid him for his endorsement.  Amy has also refused to answer questions on why she and her husband gave thousands of dollars to Trump’s biggest enablers in the Senate who voted in lock step with Mitch McConnell against impeachment, the Affordable Care Act, sensible gun control, choice, and LGBTQ rights.

“This pattern must stop.  If there is anyone who is questioning the authenticity of these concerns, please watch this CNN news report.  It speaks for itself,” Harrison continued.  “This is a bad company, with a history of not only decisions that are harmful or deadly to the people they serve and employ, but of real-life pay-for-play schemes to illegally influence politicians.  Amy Kennedy needs to return the Wellpath money and her husband must step down from his Board seat.”
In addition, to the new facts that are outlined in this press release, the following concerns and issues have so far been documented previously:

·      In New Jersey, Wellpath, which provides medical services for New Jersey’s Hudson County Jail, recently lost two nurses, members of ASFCME in April who both died of from complications of the coronavirus.

·      In Miami, Florida, Wellpath has been blamed for a lack of COVID-19 testing and medical services related to its jail system in Broward County, which has been described as “horrific, with outrageous medical neglect, insufficient nutrition, unsanitary conditions.”  Additional reports have also issued on Wellpath’s ill-fated response to COVID-19 being filed in Detroitand Santa Barbara.

·      In November 2018, Senator Elizabeth Warren and ten other United States Senators sent a letter to Mr. Dominics expressing concern about the poor medical conditions at the notorious Adelanto ICE Processing Center and highlighted a New York Times article that describes detainees staging hunger strikes in protest of their treatment.

·      In December 2018, US Senator Kamala Harris and 23 members of the California congressional delegation sent a letter to the Acting Director of ICE expressing “strong concern about the conditions and oversight of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration detention facilities,” including the Adelanto Center where Wellpath was the contracted health care provider.

·      Wellpath has used campaign contributions to pay off elected officials who reward the company with lucrative government contracts.

·      In Louisiana, Wellpath, then branded as Correct Care Solutions, was hired through a closed-door contract-awarding process that drew criticism from city officials and the New Orleans Office of Inspector General. The company’s practices at the Orleans Justice Center have since been cited in wrongful death lawsuits and in reports by a federally appointed team that monitors the jail as part of the consent decree.

·      Fulton County, GA, terminated its contract with Wellpath after five people died within a span of 75 days in 2017.

·      A lawsuit filed in May 2018 against the company alleged that in Douglas County, Nebraska more than a dozen people were denied medical treatment for serious ailments, including a stroke, a broken hip and lung cancer. According to the lawsuit, Wellpath’s contract with the county detention center created “perverse incentives” because the company “makes more money under the contract when they refuse to provide inmates with necessary medical care.”

·      In August 2018, a video was released as part of a wrongful death lawsuit against Wellpath that showed a detainee at a Westchester, NY, county jail collapsing on the ground and being wheeled back to his cell in a wheelchair. He died soon after from a heart attack, and a state legislator concluded that “looking at this video, it would take more persuasion to get me to go along with the point of view that we should have CCS [Wellpath] or another for-profit entity running the medical department [inside the jail].”
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The Kennedy campaign responded: Josh Roesch, campaign manager: “Amy is focused on running a positive campaign centered around helping people during COVID-19 and putting forward bold ideas to get things done on issues that matter to our community. Brigid has spent almost no time talking about what she will do to help people here in South Jersey who are struggling. Amy won’t be deterred by this all too familiar brand of deflect and attack politics that has been the signature of the South Jersey machine for far too long. We can’t afford to send yet another person to Congress who chooses to serve themselves instead of us.”

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