John Kelly Continues Paid Speaking Tour While Profiting off Family Separation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will give a keynote address at Florida’s NaplesNEXT Ideas Festival. The speech is part of a broader effort by Kelly to rehabilitate his image and profit off of his government experience.

While Kelly has been critical of his former employer, he has yet to explain his role in implementing the Trump administration’s family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet Kelly continues to personally profit off lucrative government contracts related to the policy — just last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new grant for Caliburn, on whose board Kelly sits. The contract is to operate a longer-term migrant child detention facility in Texas. 

Restore Public Trust released the following statement in response:

“John Kelly will take money from just about anyone to give a speech but he won’t come clean about his role separating children from their families. Maybe that’s because he’s making money off of that now, too,” said Lizzy Price, director of Restore Public Trust. “On Kelly’s watch, children were taken from their families, 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.”

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

When Caliburn went public in 2018, it touted a $100 million stock offering and cited its relationship with the government as an advantage.


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

Caliburn International Received A Grant From The Office Of Refugee Resettlement To House Child Migrants Long-Term In El Paso. “A year after asylum-seekers and other migrants overwhelmed U.S. immigration authorities at the southern border, the Border Patrol is opening a processing facility in Texas that officials say could help it better care for detainees following outcry last year over young children and adults held in squalid, crowded conditions. […] A 500-person facility for longer-term housing for child migrants also is opening as early as this spring in El Paso. It will be overseen by the contractor Caliburn International after receiving a grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to a Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber.” [Associated Press, 2/25/20]


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