In the wake of a Manhattan grand jury’s historic decision to indict Donald Trump, the former president and some other prominent Republicans, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have invoked liberal billionaire George Soros in their attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump claimed in a statement that Bragg was “hand-picked and funded by George Soros.”
Soros, a longtime supporter of Democratic campaigns, various liberal causes and prosecutors who favor criminal justice reform, has been a frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories painting the Jewish philanthropist as a puppetmaster behind various US and international events.
Donations to a PAC that supported Bragg
Bragg — a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former federal prosecutor and a former chief deputy attorney general for New York state — won the race for Manhattan district attorney in 2021, and his campaign was supported by the political action committee affiliated with Color of Change, a nonprofit advocacy group – co-founded in 2005 by Van Jones, who later became a CNN commentator – that promotes criminal justice reform among other racial justice causes. The Color of Change PAC, which has backed progressive district attorney candidates around the country, spent slightly over $500,000 supporting Bragg, Color of Change president and PAC spokesperson Rashad Robinson told CNN last week.
The Color of Change PAC has received significant funding from Soros, who has for years been a vocal advocate of criminal justice reform and of progressive district attorney candidates. Soros was the PAC’s biggest donor in the 2021-2022 period, PolitiFact has reported.
Soros spokesperson Michael Vachon told CNN last week: “Between 2016 and 2022, George Soros personally and Democracy PAC (a PAC to which Mr. Soros has contributed funds) have together contributed roughly $4 million to Color of Change’s PAC, including $1 million in May 2021. None of those funds were earmarked for Alvin Bragg’s campaign. George Soros and Alvin Bragg have never meet in person or spoken by telephone, email, Zoom etc. There has been no contact between the two.”
In addition to these donations to the PAC, CNBC reported that another Soros organization, the Open Society Policy Center, gave the main Color of Change nonprofit $7 million in 2021. Open Society spokesperson Thomas Watson told CNN in an email last week that the funding was a five-year grant and part of a publicly announced $220 million investment in racial justice efforts focused on Black-led organizations; Watson said the grant was “in support of (Color of Change’s) social welfare activities, and not earmarked for any specific work. The grant agreement stipulates, among other restrictions, that no OSPC funding can be used for partisan or political activities.”
As PolitiFact has noted, Soros’s son, Jonathan Soros, and Jonathan’s wife, Jennifer Allan Soros, each made $10,000 donations to Bragg’s campaign during the Democratic primary in April 2021. They had made smaller donations, totaling $450, earlier in the year.
Color of Change president says attacks are ‘antisemitic’ and ‘anti-Black’
Robinson said that attacks suggesting Bragg is a puppet of Soros, because of George Soros’s donations to the Color of Change PAC, are not only “antisemitic” but also “anti-Black.”
He said the attack is premised on the idea that “Black people are so incapable of having their own ideas about how to fight for justice” that the Black-led PAC could not have come up with its own strategies.
The ‘$1 million’ figure is exaggerated
Trump claimed last week that Soros spent more than $1 million on Bragg’s campaign, but that figure is inaccurate.
The Color of Change PAC did announce in May 2021, the month that Soros made a $1 million donation to the PAC, that it was planning to spend over $1 million on an independent expenditure campaign in support of Bragg’s candidacy. But the PAC paused the pro-Bragg spending after hearing an uncorroborated allegation against Bragg that it was not able to thoroughly investigate at the time because of legal restrictions on PACs communicating with candidates, Robinson said. It ended up spending about half of what it had planned, Robinson said, and kept the rest of Soros’s donation for other uses.
“Soros didn’t give us money to give to Alvin Bragg. Soros made a donation to Color of Change,” Robinson said.