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Mike Bloomberg campaigning in Philadelphia on Dec. 21. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg's campaign used prison labor to make campaign calls for the former mayor's 2020 presidential bid, according to an investigation by The Intercept.

Why it matters: Scrutiny on Bloomberg's self-financed campaign has increased since jumping in the race and spending more than $100 million. The latest polling has Bloomberg leading the lower-tier candidates, just behind Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The big picture: The campaign contracted the company ProCom, which runs calls centers in New Jersey and Oklahoma, to make campaign calls. Two of the company's call centers in Oklahoma are in state prisons.

  • Incarcerated people in one of the prisons made calls to voters in California on behalf of the campaign, a source, who asked for anonymity, told The Intercept.

What they're saying: The Bloomberg campaign confirmed the contract in a statement to The Intercept, saying “We didn’t know about this and we never would have allowed it if we had. We don’t believe in this practice and we’ve now ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question.”

  • The campaign said it has asked vendors to vet subcontractors more closely in the future.

Of note: A ProCom co-founder said the company pays its inmates Oklahoma's minimum wage of $7.25 an hour through the the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

  • The state's department of corrections website lists the maximum monthly wage for incarcerated people at $20 dollars a month. Another policy document says the incarcerated may receive a maximum pay of $27.09 per month.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."