Photo: World Economic Forum, Flickr
George Soros has been the primary political bogeyman for more extreme wings of the Republican party for some time now.The fascination first began in 2004 when Soros pledged $25.5 million to groups dedicated to removing then-President George W. Bush from office, including MoveOn.org, America Coming Together, and the centre for American Progress.
Those efforts obviously failed, but they also cemented the billionaire hedge fund manager in the conservative psyche as the man bankrolling liberal causes. rumours abound about his true motivations, and have spawned a cottage industry of conspiracy theories about how Soros is attempting to influence American politics with his enormous fortune.
But here’s the weird thing: He’s not. Not this election, at least.
In the 2012 election, when Citizens United has made unlimited donations more possible than ever, Soros has been very, very quiet at the time when Democrats arguably need him most.
Democratic fundraising, especially at the SuperPAC level, is way down this year, while Republican “dark money” donors like Sheldon Adelson have pledged unlimited millions to the fight.
After the Democrats lost in 2004, Soros helped found and fund The Democracy Alliance, which funnels money to Democratic causes. He largely sat out the 2008 election, but did give $35 million in 2009 to aid underprivileged children in New York state, and $1 million in 2010 to a group trying to legalise marijuana in California. Most of his political cash has toward promoting democracy in Eastern Europe through his Open Society Institute.
So far in 2012, his single largest contribution has been $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century PAC, a Super PAC run by Media Matters founder David Brock, which primarily focuses on opposition research. According to a review of data from the centre for Responsive Politics, Soros’ contribution comprises about 12% of the organisation’s contributions. He also gave $1 million to America Votes, which does not endorse candidates.
That’s way down from his donations in 2004, and way lower than the $36.5 million commitment made by Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson and his family so far, and other Republicans trying to unseat the President.
Soros reasons for sitting out are not clear, but a Soros confidant told the New Yorker last month that the billionaire feels like the Obama campaign “pissed on him” by not taking him seriously.
If true, that should worry Democratic fundraisers. In an election where their rivals are prepping for an October surprise with coffers full of cash, Democrats need to reach all of the deep pockets they can. But, Soros, it seems, just isn’t taking their calls.
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