Billionaire activist George Soros helped fund Democratic efforts to flip Georgia, Arizona, and Florida in the recent midterm elections, and he nearly ran the table. All three states had razor-thin margins of victory in either U.S. Senate or gubernatorial races—or both in Florida’s case—and all three states are traditionally Republican-leaning, if not Republican strongholds.
While Soros is indeed a controversial figure often accused of wild conspiracies, the strategy of turning select “red states” Democrat blue is laid out in his Open Society Foundations documents. According to a white paper called “U.S. Programs 2015–2018 Strategy,” the progressive organization began funding activist operations in Arizona and Georgia in 2015, with the 2020 presidential election being the ultimate goal.
“Beginning in 2015 with initial investments, U.S. Programs anticipates seeking to have national impact by and in 2020, through targeted work in a small number of states. States such as Arizona, Georgia, or North Carolina, are quickly changing demographically and rising in political significance,” the document states.
Soros, a convicted felon and hedge fund manager, is one of the world’s richest men. Forbes currently lists his net worth at $8.3 billion, a significant decline since his $18 billion personal wealth transfer to the Open Society Foundations in 2017.
Known as the 2020 Project, Open Society’s funding efforts have been aimed at “building the capacity of community-based organizations to catalyze political engagement throughout the year and not solely around elections,” and they feature coordination “with our anchor and core grantees, Democracy Alliance partners and other donors, and field leaders, such as Planned Parenthood, progressive labor, and other allies.”
That’s exactly what transpired in Georgia, where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams began receiving a large and mysterious influx of political donations purportedly for her voting rights activities. Abrams was an obscure member of the Georgia state House of Representatives at the time.
According to public records, Abrams raised $12.5 million by 2016, through two voter registration nonprofits she founded, called Third Sector Development and Voter Access Institute. She personally benefited by nearly half a million dollars, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in September.
In the lead-up to 2018, Abrams organized a statewide voter registration drive known as the New Georgia Project. The effort relied on support from wealthy progressive donors, who continued giving millions to her gubernatorial bid that ultimately fell short of victory by 0.4 percent.
Abrams has consistently refused to acknowledge where the money came from, although in a March interview she thanked Soros. “George Soros and the Soros family have demonstrated nothing but deep investment and commitment to social justice. That is how I came to know them because they were early investors in the New Georgia Project,” she said, adding, “I am proud to have their support.”
Abrams is continuing to fight the Georgia election result through a lawsuit funded by a new political action committee. She remains well-positioned to campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in 2020 and to support the eventual Democratic presidential nominee.
In Arizona, Soros and his son Alexander, who serves as deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations and as a member of organization’s U.S. Programs Advisory Board, helped to underwrite a mysterious super PAC that launched attack ads against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Martha McSally.
The group, called Red and Gold, failed to provide required financial disclosure documents to the Federal Elections Commission until after the Arizona GOP primary election. But by then it had already spent $1.7 million solely attacking McSally in an attempt to boost her primary rivals. McSally nevertheless became the GOP nominee to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.
Red and Gold received the $1.7 million infusion from the Senate Majority PAC. The coordinated effort had ties to Alexander Soros, reported the Arizona Republic, the state’s largest daily newspaper. After the primary, George Soros gave $600,000 to Red and Gold and another $425,000 to Priorities USA Action for anti-McSally attack ads.
McSally was slightly ahead of Democrat Kyrsten Sinema on Nov. 6, but she eventually lost by 38,197 votes amid post-election day ballot counting.
Arizona was expressly named in the Open Society Foundation’s strategy documents, and the Soros-backed Democracy Alliance increased its Arizona activism after the spectacular election loss of Hillary Clinton in 2016. According to The New York Times, Soros not only spent millions on the 2014–2016 election cycle, but he personally lost $1 billion in the financial markets for betting against Donald Trump. The 2018 midterms would be the first chance to regain lost ground.
Democracy Alliance is a collective of wealthy center-left and left-wing political donors with Soros as its centerpiece. It supports a sprawling activist infrastructure with so-called dark money, which hides donor identities, and requires its grantees to sign nondisclosure agreements.
In 2005, Democracy Alliance held its first donor conference of 50 partners in Phoenix. After 2016, the group’s president, Gara LaMarche, told donors at a national summit “to keep your eyes on Arizona, Georgia, and my beloved Texas.” The group’s 2018 spring conference was held in Atlanta.
In neighboring Florida, gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was bankrolled by millions in outside-the-state funding that originated with Soros. “Florida is the holy grail,” Gillum allegedly told the elder billionaire, according to Politico.
“His political committee has brought in $3.8 million from people affiliated with the Democracy Alliance of big donors, out of a total of $9.6 million. And the money is still coming in: California billionaire Tom Steyer pledged $5.2 million to Gillum on Wednesday,” Politico reported Oct. 11.
Like Abrams in Georgia, Gillum narrowly lost a close election to a Trump-aligned Republican, but his Soros-led backers are banking that their strategy will put progressives over the top in key states in 2020.