Florida Festival Should Nix Speaking Gig for John Kelly

WASHINGTON – Trump’s former Chief of Staff John Kelly will give the keynote address at Florida’s NaplesNEXT Ideas Festival in March. Kelly, who helped implement Trump’s family separation policy as White House chief of staff and later profited off child detention in the private sphere, will be among those invited to give “expertise and insights” to festival attendees. Restore Public Trust released the following statement in response:

“Former Chief of Staff John Kelly’s role in implementing Trump’s horrific family separation policy should be enough to disqualify him from speaking gigs, but the fact that he profited off of the policy after leaving the administration is despicable,” said Lizzy Price, director of Restore Public Trust. “On the Trump administration’s watch, children taken from their families were abused and sexually assaulted. Some even died. And as recently as last year, Kelly was still earning money off migrant children’s detainment. Kelly should not get a platform to rehabilitate his reputation. His invitation should be revoked.”

Kelly’s keynote will follow a morning of programming related to “the current and future state of the landscape of child well-being.”

Reports in October 2019 revealed the Trump administration’s plan to shift to privatizing migrant detention, and its contract with Caliburn — on whose board John Kelly sits — to operate Florida’s infamous Homestead detention center. When Caliburn went public in 2018, it touted a $100 million stock offering and cited its relationship with the government as an advantage. 



AP HEADLINE: “Trump Admin Shifting To Privatize Migrant Child Detention.”  [AP, 10/3/19]

Federal Government Contracted With John Kelly’s Company Caliburn To House Migrant Children. “Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly joined Caliburn’s board this spring after stepping down from decades of government service; he joined the Trump administration as Secretary of Homeland Security, where he backed the idea of taking children from their parents at the border, saying it would discourage people from trying to immigrate or seek asylum. Critics say this means Kelly now stands to financially benefit from a policy he helped create.”   [AP, 10/3/19]

Caliburn’s Business Grew As Record Numbers Of Minors Entered Government Care In The Last Two Years. “Sheltering migrant children has become a growing business for the Florida-based government contractor, as the number of minors in government custody has swollen to record levels over the past two years. More than 50 babies, toddlers and teens were closely watched on this day inside the clean, well-lit shelter surrounded by chain link fences.”  [AP, 10/3/19]

Government Data Showed One In Four Migrant Children Were Housed By The Company For Which Kelly Serves On The Board. “The government doesn’t disclose the names of individual shelters, nor how many children are in each one. But confidential government data obtained by the AP shows that in June nearly one in four migrant children in government care was housed by CHS. That included more than 2,300 teens at Homestead, Florida, and more than 500 kids in shelters in Brownsville, Los Fresnos and San Benito, Texas. For each teen held at Homestead at that time, it cost taxpayers an average $775 per day.”  [AP, 10/3/19]

Caliburn Went Public In 2018 With A $100 Million Stock Offering And Cited Its Relationship With The Government As An Advantage. “CHS’s business plan going forward depends on having more kids in their shelters, according to a prospectus its parent company Caliburn filed last year to go public with a $100 million stock offering. ‘In a recent shift, the U.S. federal government has started to transition to utilizing private contractors for medical and shelter maintenance,’ said the prospectus. ‘We believe that as a result of our past performance and longstanding relationship with HHS, we are positioned to be a leading provider of these services.’”  [AP, 10/3/19]


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