by WorldTribune Staff, August 31, 2016
While other mega donors funnel cash in an effort to influence the race at the top of the ticket, George Soros is focusing like a laser this year on his goal of transforming the U.S. justice system.
The leftist billionaire has pumped $3 million into local district attorney elections with a racial component. That sum “exceeds the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of rival super-donors,” Politico noted.
Soros is focusing on African-American and Hispanic candidates in district attorney races who share his goals of “reducing racial disparities in sentencing and directing some drug offenders to diversion programs instead of to trial. It is by far the most tangible action in a progressive push to find, prepare and finance criminal justice reform-oriented candidates for jobs that have been held by longtime incumbents and serve as pipelines to the federal courts,” Politico said.
“The prosecutor exercises the greatest discretion and power in the system. It is so important,” said Andrea Dew Steele, president of Emerge America, a candidate-training organization for Democratic women. “There’s been a confluence of events in the past couple years and all of the sudden, the progressive community is waking up to this.”
According to the report, Soros has funneled funds through a network of state-level super PACs and a national “527” unlimited-money group, each named a variation on “Safety and Justice”, to district attorney campaigns in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas.
The Florida Safety and Justice poured nearly $1.4 million — all of which came from Soros and his 527 group — into a previously low-budget Democratic primary for state attorney in Central Florida. The group backed Aramis Ayala, a former public defender and prosecutor, in her campaign against incumbent Jeff Ashton, whose jurisdiction covers over 1.6 million people across two counties in metro Orlando. Ayala won the primary in what was considered a major upset.
“One TV ad from Florida Safety and Justice boosts Ayala, touting her ‘plan to remove bias so defendants charged with the same crime receive the same treatment, no matter their background or race.’ The Soros-funded group is also attacking Ashton with ads saying he ‘got rid of protections that helped ensure equal treatment regardless of background or race. … Take two similar traffic incidents that happened on the same night. A white man got off with a slap on the wrist, while the black man faces prison.’ ”
Some opponents of local-level candidates backed by Soros say the billionaire’s influence “has wildly tipped the scales of local elections” and some say he made residents less safe.
“As a candidate and citizen of Caddo Parish, if an outsider was that interested in the race, I wanted to know exactly what he had in mind for the criminal justice system if he were to win,” said Dhu Thompson, a Louisiana attorney who lost a district attorney race to Soros-backed candidate James Stewart in 2015. Soros gave over $930,000 — more than 22 times the local median household income — to the group boosting Stewart.
“I know some of his troubling opinions on social issues, especially the criminal justice system,” Thompson said. “I’ve never known him as an individual who was very strong on some of our crime and punishment issues. I felt it was very detrimental to the safety of Caddo Parish, and that’s why I took such a strong stand against him.”
Meanwhile, a leaked document from Soros’s Open Society Foundations revealed a “national movement” to institute federal guidelines for local police forces.
“The document identifies an opportunity in the police killings of African-American men in Ferguson, Staten Island, North Charleston, and Baltimore,” Breitbart reported.
The document further states that Soros-financed groups and personalities influenced President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which last May released a final report consisting of 60 recommendations providing guidance to localities on how to modify policing practices.
According to the document:
“The federal government is seeking philanthropic support for a number of its initiatives. In addition to seeking support to advance the implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Task force, the White House recently launched the Policing Data Initiative to explore how best to use data and technology to build trust, voice, and solutions to improve community policing.
“The Department of Justice recently selected the first six cities to host pilot sites for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which was launched last fall to help repair and strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve by exploring strategies intended to enhance procedural justice, reduce implicit bias, and support racial reconciliation.
We are gaining a better understanding of these efforts in order to determine how best USP can use this moment to create a national movement.”
The document also identifies reducing incarceration rates as another goal of police reform:
“The police killings of African-American men in Ferguson, Staten Island, most recently in North Charleston, Baltimore, and many other American cities, highlight that reform of policing policy and practice must be integral to our criminal justice agenda. Notably, while such reform activities are inextricably linked with our concerns about racial justice and equity, in particular about advancing opportunity for boys and men of color, they are also critically related to our goal of reducing incarceration, given the role that police practices play in bringing people into the justice system.”
The memo identifies Black Lives Matter as central to the national campaign:
“Another layer of grassroots and youth-oriented groups like Freedom Side, Ferguson Action, Black Lives Matter, and Million Hoodies Movement for Justice are also advocating for specific reforms.”
Earlier this month, Breitbart News first reported that another hacked Soros document confirmed that the Open Society last year approved $650,000 to “invest in technical assistance and support for the groups at the core of the burgeoning #BlackLivesMatter movement.”