Protesters once again interrupted Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton during an event Thursday, criticizing the former secretary of state for taking money from individuals connected to private prison corporations. The hecklers were ignored by Clinton during her speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's (CHCI) gala in Washington, D.C., and they later released statements detailing why the protested.
"Our message to Hillary Clinton is simple: immigrant youth do not trust you. It is time to drop the prison money and stand with our community — you can’t have it both ways,” Juan Carlos Ramos, one of the protesters, wrote in a statement issued through United We Dream Action. “Each dollar of private prison money accepted by the Clinton campaign undermines her pro-immigrant policy promises, and our community will not be fooled.”
This isn't the first time that these charges have been leveled at Clinton, but the money connection between prisons and Clinton's campaign isn't quite as clear as the statement makes it out to be. A July review of Clinton's lobbyist bundlers, who collect multiple checks for the campaign from various donors, showed that several lobbyists representing two major prison companies were fundraising for her campaign. Many of those lobbyists work at large firms with multiple clients. A review of direct contributions to Clinton's campaign or super PAC does not bring up itemized contributions from major prison corporations.
It's hard to say if immigrant youth don't trust Clinton based on polling, but she is certainly in the preferred party for Latino voters in general. Democrats -- including Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced his intentions for 2016 -- generally poll much more favorably with that voter bloc than Republicans.
All of the Democratic candidates are looking for their way to appeal to Hispanic voters going into the 2016 election season. Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore all spoke at the CHCI forum. Clinton did not speak at the forum, however, and opted instead to deliver remarks during the awards ceremony.