Michael Bloomberg’s campaign used prison labour ‘unknowingly’

Michael Bloomberg's campaign used prison labour 'unknowingly'
Mr Bloomberg said his campaign had terminated its relationship with a firm which operated call centres in two US jails. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times, Washington: US presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said his campaign used prison workers on his behalf but claims that happened ‘unknowingly’.

The billionaire Democrat said he had cut ties with a vendor which operates two call centres in state jails. He said he only came to know the matter when a reporter called him.

Former New York City Mayor entered the election race in November and spent one of the largest amounts of money into his campaign ads.

The Intercept first reported it and later n Tuesday, Mr Bloomberg acknowledged it.

He said ‘We do not support this practice and we are making sure our vendors more properly vet their subcontractors moving forward’.

‘We didn’t know.’

The Intercept reports Mr Bloomberg hired a call centre company ProCom using a third-party vendor to make calls for his campaign.

ProCom operates two centres in Oklahoma state prisons. Quoting an unidentified source, The Intercept said incarcerated people were contracted to make calls from at least one of these prisons – a minimum-security women’s prison with a capacity of over 900 inmates.

In inmates could earn 1.45 US dollar for an hour working for call centres, said Matt Elliott, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections ‘We believe this type of work helps prepare inmates for release’.

Mr Bloomberg’s longtime spokesman Stu Loeser said in a Tweet that ‘the campaign didn’t know that a vendor of a vendor of a vendor used prison labour’.

Mr Bloomberg is a billionaire who made his fortune from data terminals widely used in the financial industry. His estimated worth is $52bn, 17 times higher than Donald Trump.

Despite he spent a lot of money since he entered the presidential race in November, recent polls show he has support from 5% of Democratic voters.

Former VP Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren are currently leading the race for the party’s nomination.

Slavery is now removed from America’s constitution, but the Thirteenth Amendment allows prisoners to be forced into labour for their crimes.

According to the amendment, some labour is voluntary, while some are involuntary and non-compliance can be punished.

Many private companies have used ‘prison in-sourcing’ as an alternative to cheap labour in foreign countries in the past.