George Soros’ quiet overhaul of the U.S. justice system
Progressives have zeroed in on electing prosecutors as an avenue for criminal justice reform, and the billionaire financier is providing the cash to make it happen.
While America’s political kingmakers inject their millions into high-profile presidential and congressional contests, Democratic mega-donor George Soros has directed his wealth into an under-the-radar 2016 campaign to advance one of the progressive movement’s core goals — reshaping the American justice system.
The billionaire financier has channeled more than $3 million into seven local district attorney campaigns in six states over the past year — a sum that exceeds the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of rival super-donors.
His money has supported African-American and Hispanic candidates for these powerful local roles, all of whom ran on platforms sharing major goals of Soros’, like 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 long-time incumbents and serve as pipelines to the federal courts — and it has inspired fury among opponents angry about the outside influence in local elections.
“The prosecutor exercises the greatest discretion and power in the system. It is so important,” said Andrea Dew Steele, the 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.”