For the last several years, billionaire philanthropist George Soros has been quietly financing a revolution in criminal justice reform, doling out tens of millions of dollars to progressive candidates in district attorney races throughout the country amid movements to abolish bail and defund the police.
Working with an activist attorney, Soros, 91, mainly funnels cash through a complicated web of federal and state political action committees as well as non-profits from coast to coast, public records show.
Last year, the Foundation to Promote Open Society, a nonprofit in Soros’ orbit, gave $3 million to the Community Resource Hub for Safety and Accountability, according to a recent report. The group provides resources to “local advocates and organizations working to address the harm of policing in the US.”
Hungarian-born philanthropist Soros and his Open Society group of non-profits have mainly doled out cash to political action campaigns controlled by attorney and criminal justice reform activist Whitney Tymas, 60. She is the treasurer of the Justice and Safety PAC as well as 20 other similarly named groups at both the state and federal levels, according to public filings.
The goal of the myriad PACs is focused on electing progressives to end tough policing and mass incarceration, according to Tymas. “If we are to reach a place of true progress, it will take the sustained efforts of local elected prosecutors across the country to rectify and reimagine their role in the criminal legal system — not just as gatekeepers, but as active catalysts for change,” wrote Tymas in an opinion article last year.
Her efforts coupled with Soros’ largesse have played an outsize role in some of the most controversial district attorney campaigns in the US, including Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, George Gascon in Los Angeles as well as Larry Krasner in Philadelphia and Kim Foxx in Chicago, among others. Soros also donated $1 million to Alvin Bragg’s successful DA campaign in Manhattan, funneling the cash through the Color of Change non-profit, according to public filings..
“George Soros has quietly orchestrated the dark money political equivalent of ‘shock and awe,’ on local attorney races through the country, shattering records, flipping races and essentially making a mockery of our entire campaign finance system,” said Tom Anderson, director of the Government Integrity Project at the National Legal and Policy Center in Virginia. (Calls to Soros’ camp went unreturned on Thursday.)
Between 2015 and 2019, Soros and his affiliated non-profits spent more than $17 million on local DA races in support of left-wing candidates, according to the Capital Research Center, a non-profit that tracks lobbying and charitable giving. That number is expected to top $20 million in the last two years, according to estimates from the NLPC.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this where federal election level money and resources are brought to bear and coordinated to effectively flip local level races where campaign finance restrictions make it almost impossible to counter,” said Anderson, adding that conservative opponents are hamstrung by local campaign finance laws that Soros doesn’t have to abide by because he is using independent expenditures and not directly coordinating with the campaigns.
Critics say the policies of Soros-funded DAs, which have included abolishing bail and, in the case of Chicago, placing hundreds of violent criminals on electronic tracking systems, have led to a spike in crime throughout the country. According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report released in September, the country saw a 30 percent increase in homicides in 2020 — the largest single-year spike since they began recording crime statistics 60 years ago. The report also saw a 24 percent decrease in arrests across the country.
This year, Philadelphia, a city of 1.5 million, had more homicides than New York and Los Angeles, the country’s two largest cities. The city recorded 521 homicides — the highest since 1990 — compared to 443 in New York and 352 in Los Angeles. Chicago, the country’s third largest city, registered the highest number of homicides at 739, up three percent from the previous year.
“Everywhere Soros-backed prosecutors go, crime follows,” said Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton in a statement to The Post. “These legal arsonists have abandoned their duty to public safety by pursuing leniency even for the most heinous crime, and they often flat-out refuse to charge criminals for shoplifting, vagrancy and entire categories of misdemeanors.”
In Los Angeles, where critics say that criminal justice reforms have recently led to a wave of looting and violent crimes, Soros funneled more than $2.5 million into a California political action committee to support Gascon, who left the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to run against incumbent Jackie Lacey in 2020. The Cuban-born Gascon, who moved with his family to the US in 1967, said in his December 2020 inauguration speech that the rush to “incarcerate generations of kids of color” had torn the “social fabric of our communities. The status quo hasn’t made us safe.”
Boudin, whose parents were members of the Weather Underground domestic terrorist group, echoed similar sentiments during his campaign in San Francisco. A former public defender and translator for former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Boudin has promised to end mass incarceration and cash bail. Former San Francisco homicide prosecutors Brooke Jenkins and Don Du Bain recently quit their jobs, two of 59 attorneys to resign since Boudin took office in January 2020.
Earlier this week, San Francisco mayor London Breed announced an emergency crackdown on crime after a spike in gun violence and lethal fentanyl overdoses in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood. “It’s time the reign of criminals who are destroying our city, it is time for it to come to an end,” she said. “And it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement. More aggressive with the changes in our policies and less tolerant of all the b–ls–t that has destroyed our city.”
The problem begins with lax law enforcement at the DA level, according to critics.
“The only good Soros prosecutor is a defeated Soros prosecutor,” Cotton told The Post.
But that’s becoming increasingly rare as Soros and other progressive groups step up their funding.
Chicago’s Kim Foxx was Soros’ first success. He contributed $300,000 to her first campaign in 2016, and a further $2 million for her successful re-election run last month. The Cook County State’s Attorney came under fire when her office dismissed all the charges in the original 16-count indictment against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in 2019, three weeks after a grand jury had issued it. Last week, Smollett was convicted of staging a false hate crime.
And Soros’ funding doesn’t end with electing progressive prosecutors. In October, Soros’ Open Society Policy Center donated $500,000 to Equity PAC, a Texas-based group that funds progressive causes and was working to oppose a ballot proposition that would have seen the capital city of Austin hire hundreds of new police officers amid a spike in violent crime. Although the city has seen a 10 percent rise in aggravated assaults over 2020, Proposition A was overwhelmingly defeated last month — apparently thanks to Soros’ cash injection, which funded ad campaigns throughout Austin.
Soros’ donation came a year after his non-profit funneled $652,000 to the Texas Justice and Public Safety PAC group that backed the election of Jose Garza, who assumed office as Travis County DA, based in Austin.