Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg has reportedly severed ties with a company that used prison labor to place calls on behalf of Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, the Intercept reports.
The Bloomberg campaign had contracted ProCom, a New Jersey–based call center, through a third party vendor. The arrangement was cancelled after the campaign was contacted by an Intercept reporter, who, through an anonymous tip, learned the company was using prisoners in Oklahoma to place the calls.
The campaign was reportedly unaware that the prisoners were being used until notified by the Intercept. Had it known, it never would have allowed the arrangement, it said.
A spokesperson for ProCom could not be reached for comment.
It’s unclear how much the prisoners were paid, but wages in prisons are extremely low. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections website states that inmates can make up to $20 per month, though some with “special skills and good behavior” can make more.
Bloomberg, a multibillionare, entered the race last month after having declared in March that he would not run. His campaign has quickly outspent those of his Democratic rivals, including the projected frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.
According to the Washington Post, Bloomberg has spent roughly $60 million on television and radio ads since November 24, when the campaign launched.