The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Tom Gores Departs LACMA Board Over Prison Telecom Connection

Billionaire private equity mogul and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores has resigned from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s board of directors after the activist groups Color of Change and Worth Rises lobbied for his removal over his ties to a company that charges “egregious” rates for phone calls from prisons and immigrant detention centers.

Gores’s Platinum Equity, of which he is chairman and CEO, in 2017 bought Securus Technologies, a company that the activist groups allege “makes over $700 million annually” by charging families that are “disproportionately Black and low-income,” up to $25 for a 15-minute phone call with their incarcerated loved ones, causing many to go into debt. Securus has additionally been accused of illegally recording conversations between detainees and their attorneys and sharing them with law enforcement officials. The petitioning groups last month sent a letter to LACMA director Michel Govan and the board’s cochairs calling for Gores’s dismissal; the missive was signed by more than 100 artists and donors.

Gores, a board member since 2006, defended the investment at a board meeting last week, explaining that Platinum was making efforts to reform Securus. No conclusion was reached at the meeting; however, that evening Gores sent in his letter of resignation. As first reported by the Los Angeles Times, Gores in the letter restated his company’s commitment to making changes at Securus, but acknowledged that the investment had become a “nexus for addressing the political, social, racial and economic issues roiling America today” and thus a burden to LACMA.

Gores’s resignation follows that of Warren B. Kanders from the board of trustees of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, after activists pressured the institution to jettison him for his investment in tear-gas maker Safariland. The Museum of Modern Art in New York is currently facing calls for the dismissal of Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, widely known as the world’s largest shadow bank.