Gen. Kelly, Trump’s ex-top aide, joins board of firm running Homestead migrant shelter

It is now clear why John Kelly, the former chief of staff for President Donald Trump and the ex-head of the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, was spotted last month on a golf cart at the Homestead detention center for unaccompanied migrant children.

The retired Marine Corps general has joined the board of advisers for Caliburn, the company that operates the influx facility, the company announced.

Sources told the Herald he had already joined the board when he took the tour. Caliburn was formed after a Washington-based private equity firm, DC Capital Partners, bought Comprehensive Health Services of Cape Canaveral, which used to manage the shelter, records show.

The announcement comes a few weeks after the government quietly granted the company a no-bid, $341 million contract.

“We are honored to announce that the highly decorated General John F. Kelly, U.S. Marine Corps, has recently joined other distinguished leaders on our board,” Caliburn said in a statement to the Herald.

Kelly is no stranger to the company. Prior to joining the Trump administration, he was employed as a lobbyist for DC Capital.

For more than a month, Kelly didn’t respond to phone calls and messages from the Miami Herald asking if he had reconnected with the group.

The private equity company that controls it, DC Capital Partners, has a powerhouse advisory board that includes Richard L. Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state; Michael Corbin; former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates; Michael V. Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and of the National Security Agency; Donald M. Kerr Jr., former deputy director of science and technology at the CIA; Anthony C. Zinni, former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command and former U.S. envoy to the Middle East; and Stephen F. Loftus, former director of the Office of the Budget for the United States Navy.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks to the media in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in October 2017 in Washington, D.C. Olivier Contreras TNS

“With four decades of military and humanitarian leadership, in-depth understanding of international affairs and knowledge of current economic drivers around the world, General Kelly is a strong strategic addition to our team,” said Caliburn CEO James Van Dusen.

He added: “Our board remains acutely focused on advising on the safety and welfare of unaccompanied minors who have been entrusted to our care and custody by the Department of Health and Human Services to address a very urgent need in caring for and helping to find appropriate sponsors for these unaccompanied minors.”

Kelly’s unexpected visit in early April to the facility — which announced last month that it intends to expand and house as many as 3,200 kids at the “temporary” center — was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As the only temporary shelter in the country, the Homestead center is not subject to regulations limiting how long federal authorities can hold migrant children.

The Homestead shelter is the only for-profit child detention center in the country. It’s run by Caliburn International Corp., a Virginia-based company that was awarded the government contract to manage the center, which detains children who cross the southern border without their biological parents.

Up until a month ago, the company, which filed its registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in October, had planned to sell up to $100 million in an initial public stock offering. However, following a growing outcry over the firm making money from housing migrant children, it indicated in a letter to the SEC that it would cancel those plans.

The company’s president said in the letter that the company decided to withdraw the offering “due to the variability in the stock markets. Our business continues to grow, and we could potentially return to the public markets in the future.”

According to those SEC filings, the company intended to have an annual cash retainer of $100,000 and equity awards in the amount of $200,000 for directors who are not employed by the company.

Kelly is a non-employee, Caliburn confirmed. It’s unclear if Caliburn continued with those plans.

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Monique O. Madan covers immigration and enterprise; she previously covered breaking news and local government. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and The Dallas Morning News. She is currently a Reveal Fellow at the Center for Investigative Reporting. She graduated from Miami Dade College and Emerson College in Boston. A note to tipsters: If you want to send Monique confidential information, her email and mailbox are open. The address is 3511 NW 91st Ave, Doral, FL 33172. You can also direct message her on social media and she’ll provide encrypted Signal details.