George Soros -- hedge fund billionaire, major funder of so-called 527 groups, early supporter of Barack Obama, and sugar daddy of the Democratic Party -- is one of America's most powerful political players. He had a bad November 2 when Republicans took control of the House. But he is not down for the count. He has already begun focusing on states as his next political playground -- where he wants to be the biggest bully on the block.
George Soros has seen his game plan work quite well for years in Washington. He has created a phalanx of powerful think-tanks (The Center for American Progress -- Obama's Idea Factory, being just the best-known, but there are many more), he has politicians in his ample pockets, and the Democratic Party is beholden to him and his empire of activist groups -- including MoveOn.Org.
He may have gone as far as he can in the short term in Washington; he admitted as much recently when he said he could not stop a Republican avalanche. However, as is true of every hedge fund maven, Soros is always on the lookout for opportunities that have escaped others, where he can use leverage to achieve big gains.
And many states are prime hunting grounds to bag big game -- particularly if Republicans and Tea Partiers succeed in delegating to states more power to manage their own affairs.
How will Soros spread his tentacles?
We already have clues.
George Soros and a group of liberal billionaires and mere centimillionaires and Democratic operatives joined forces a few years ago to form the Democracy Alliance. Each member of this group pays a membership fee and annual dues and also commits to support individual candidates and groups that promote their liberal ideology.
But what George Soros and company have also done over the years is try to reengineer the democratic process to achieve their goals.
While they counsel their members to keep their actions under the radar screen, we do know of some steps they have taken to further their agenda of changing the nature of our democracy.
Secretary of States Project
These are the state officials charged with the responsibility of ensuring the integrity and honesty of the voting process. We can look at two of those states where their favored candidates won to see how their handiwork pays off.
Minnesota's Secretary of State in 2008 was Mark Richie (he still is in office). He gave credit for his own victory to the Secretary of States Project, and they trumpeted their own role in helping him get elected, lauding him as "arguably the most progressive Secretary of State in the nation." Even George Soros chipped in as an individual donor, as did many of the members of the Democracy Alliance.
Another good investment for Soros and Company.
After a hard-fought race, Mark Ritchie certified the Democrat Al Franken as the victor in the tight senatorial race between him and Republican Norm Coleman. The race involved other ploys by the Democracy Alliance that helped Franken become senator (see below). There was a dispute regarding the outcome since the vote totals were so close, and there were suspicious activities at various polling locations; legal challenges were mounted. Notably, George Soros hosted a fundraiser to help pay for Franken's expenses (such donations are not counted in federal campaign contribution limits). Recently, there have been serious charges that the votes that put Franken over the top were fraudulent and should not have been counted in his column. Meanwhile Franken sleepwalks through his career as a senator -- voting reliably with other Democrats while not ridiculing Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell. The SOS Project was also successful in helping Jennifer Brunner become Ohio's Secretary of State in 2006 (she received over $165,000 from the SOS Project and credited help from the group for her victory). The payoff came quickly in 2008. She declined to hand over to county election boards 200,000 names on voter registration forms where the drivers license or Social Security numbers on the forms did not match the name. She also allowed Election Day registration and failed to purge election rolls of ineligible and dead voters. These are all recognized as invitations for fraud. The Secretary of State Project praised her work -- naturally. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) -- the subject of voter fraud investigations across the nation -- was also active in Get Out The Vote efforts in Ohio. Barack Obama and other Democrats swept to victory in Ohio. The Secretary of States Project is still in operation and has expanded into other states over the last few years. While its latest effort to elect allies was swamped by the red tide, the operatives are still there -- always on the lookout to put their people in positions of power.
These are the officials who monitor not only federal elections, but also state elections and other powers at the state level. They are among the more powerful of state officials and often go on to run for federal office. One can see what a good investment in a Secretary of State can lead to.
George Soros and his minions excel at attacks that fly beneath the radar screen but can lead to devastating results for Republicans. They have created an operation for engaging in such political warfare that has been "franchised" in states across America.
A case study for their modus operandi can be found, as heretofore mentioned, in Minnesota.
I wrote about the underhanded tactics used by Soros and his pals in my 2008 article "The Soros Connection in the Minnesota Senate Race." A network of groups funded by members of the Democracy Alliance raised spurious charges that threw mud at Coleman (charges that went nowhere and vanished after Franken's "victory"). The charges were picked up by the echo chamber that Soros has created in the blogosphere and bubbled up into the mainstream media. Investigations were advocated. It was all smoke with little fire -- but it damaged Coleman. Fred Barnes wrote a very insightful column for the Weekly Standard ("The Colorado Model: The Democrats' Plan for Turning Red States Blue") which showed how a similar effort by a small core of wealthy liberals turned Colorado from a red state to a blue state. Scathing allegations were raised; the fire was fanned into a conflagration, and it burned a lot of Republicans at the state and federal level. Then the charges all but vanished. Mission accomplished. A superb book, The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care, also opens the pages of the playbook used by this cadre.
The plan was a success, and like many successful operations, it was cloned in other states. The franchise spread. At the apex of the operation was a group called the Fund For America, another 527 group funded by Soros and other Democracy Alliance members. This group seeded state level groups throughout America to replicate the type of operations that succeeded in Minnesota and Colorado.
One picture says it all -- this one titled "Money and Influence Behind a Liberal Network":
Alliance for a Better Minnesota was the so-called grassroots effort by Minnesotans that spread attacks against Norm Coleman. As can be graphically seen, it was an Astroturf group funded by wealthy donors who may be able to locate the Land of 10,000 Lakes on a map but otherwise have no ties to the state. While the amounts of money (and probably advice) may appear small, Soros and others among his allies can funnel money through other means.
Many states have looser restrictions regarding the amounts individuals, PACs, and other groups may donate to candidates. The monitoring and reporting of donations are much less rigorous than they are at the federal level. A lot of money can flow to candidates, and the citizens may remain completely in the dark regarding the sources and the amounts. In many ways, states are an ideal location for the type of mischief and scheming that Soros and his allies practice.
Of course, what the graphic also illustrates is that similar groups have been funded in various states. The plan has been franchised; tentacles have spread; the puppets are hooked. The groups are primed to take action when opportunities to advance the Soros agenda present themselves.
The action taken by MoveOn.Org to influence shale gas development in Pennsylvania is another manifestation of Soros and his allies operating at the state level. Why would a Soros-supported group that used to focus its campaigns against Republicans at the federal level shift course and focus on an individual state? (One clue: it may relate to Soros's energy investments.)
Will we see other Soros-controlled groups engage in steps to influence actions at the state level?
The Media: A Force Multiplier
These operations might be cloaked in secrecy, but they also depend on the media to magnify their efforts. Therefore, it is intriguing that Soros has recently invested more money in his media operations.
The National Public Radio grant that has been widely broadcast (at least by one network) will put two "journalists" in each state capital in America. Their stated role is to report on state governments and their actions. Do these journalists know who butters their bread? Will that affect their reporting? Does it even matter since NPR is chock full of liberals anyway who would likely support the Soros agenda?
Soros looks for emerging opportunities-talented hedge-fund operator that he is.
As the media -- particularly newspapers -- have fallen on hard times, they have reduced their coverage of the news and created an opening for Soros (and his allies, Herb and Marion Sandler, who have created their own "investigative group" to deliver news, free of charge, to cash-strapped media outlets -- "news" that seems agenda-driven).
One can envision scenarios where the news coming from state capitols will favor liberal causes and shine a positive light on politicians who would promote a Soros-based agenda. At the same time, those who oppose this agenda will be either ignored or attacked (Media Matters was recently generously funded by George Soros to engage in attacks against Fox News -- and this was before Glenn Beck's series on Soros).
Will the Soros-supported media honestly report on the goings-on in state capitols? Will journalists who know the ultimate source of their money promote certain ballot measures? We turn to this topic now as we continue to explore Soros-world.
Soros and the Ballots
George Soros has been promoting and paying for state ballot initiatives to put in place policies he favors.
While his marijuana legalization effort in California has now been publicized (and went down in flames), he has been trying to peddle the pro-pot line in states across the country for years. His efforts have "earned" him the sobriquet "Daddy Weedbucks" from the drug culture magazine Heads. He also tried to help drug dealers by pouring money into a Utah initiative that would have restricted the power of states to confiscate the property of busted drug dealers. He and his allies, by the way, have not given up on California -- they are gearing up to retool the proposition and get it passed in 2012.
But that is just one part of his agenda.
He also funded a 2004 effort in California for a proposition that would have softened and repealed some of the provisions of a Three Strikes initiative that imposes higher penalties on criminals who commit three felonies. The effort narrowly failed, but there is a postscript. George Soros finally agreed five years later to pay a fine to California's Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to properly disclose his $500,000 in donations made to promote this proposition.
He also has promoted Ohio's Minimum Wage Initiative (while there is a federal minimum wage law, states are free to pass their own higher wage laws).
Soros also funded a 2010 California ballot measure that would have put control of redistricting back in the hands of the state legislature (from a non-partisan group now) -- a move that would have obviously benefited Democrats. The effort failed. One may ask why Soros, who does not live in California, felt compelled to weigh in on that state's redistricting. Was it to earn "chits" from Democrats to be cashed in at some future date?
The Judicial Branch Should Bend to the Will of George Soros
There is more -- endless are the ways in which Soros seeks to influence actions on the state level. The state where Soros most recently tried to pull a fast one is Nevada -- another state where he has no residence. A November ballot measure was the first salvo in a nationwide campaign to end state judicial elections. The responsibility to pick judges would be taken away from voters and instead put in the hands of a nominating commission who would select a slate to present to the governor, who would then choose judges from the choices handed to him. The process is manipulated by bar associations (often left-wing) that fill the slate with left-wing judges.
That's a nifty outcome for liberal groups who see the state courts as the next frontier for moving political agendas. The Nevada initiative is part of a nationwide effort supported by George Soros, among others, to eliminate judicial elections in state courts. Through groups such as Justice at Stake, Mr. Soros's Open Society Institute has spent some $45 million on the cause nationwide, according to numbers tracked by the American Justice Partnership. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has emerged as an unofficial spokesman for the effort, but the big money is coming from the political left. Nevada is viewed as a test drive....
Judicial elections aren't always pretty, but they do provide an important check on a branch of government that has itself become increasingly political. A system in which Governors can nominate anyone subject to legislative approval can also work, as it does for the federal courts.
But the worst system is to subcontract the third branch of government to a judicial elite who give elected officials little leeway. While parading as "merit" selections, these judges are political choices as much as any elected by voters.
Soros is not interested in checks and balances. He is interested in controlling as many levers of power in states that he can, and his guiding philosophy is that the ends justifies the means.
Clearly, his left-wing agenda can be furthered by promoting the careers of friendly politicians, including those who might occupy key positions in the power structure. These would include secretaries of state, who have the duty of ensuring the integrity of the voting process. Then legislators who feel beholden to Soros and his left-wing agenda can pass laws, or, even better, Soros and his minions can promote ballot measures that persuade people to vote for the policies Soros and his partners advocate. But laws are always subject to interpretation. Who interprets the law? Judges do.
What Is the Agenda of George Soros?
While concern has been focused on the Leviathan that the federal government has become, states still have a great deal of power in various areas. Would Soros pull some strings to have states pass Renewable Energy Standards that would help him profit from green energy investments (he has announced plans to invest one billion dollars in this clean energy)? Will state environmental protection agencies target carbon as the enemy?
Will cities and states continue to loosen voting standards?
George Soros has union allies, and his efforts are often linked to the actions of the Service Employees International Union. (Anna Burger was a senior official of the SEIU who recently resigned; as can be seen in the diagram above, she plays a key role in the Democracy Alliance.)
Will Soros use his sway to help out union allies via minimum wage and card check laws? Or will state officials engage in such trickery as was displayed recently in Michigan, where independent day care workers suddenly found themselves categorized as government employees and discovered, to their chagrin, they were also enrolled in a public-employee union? This was all due to the machinations of Democrats in Michigan who perpetrated a stealth attack on these workers to bolster union membership.
Will a state-influenced by George Soros and his allies be able to take a firm stance toward illegal immigration, or will states become de facto sanctuaries for illegal aliens? After all, Soros basically believes that there should be no borders.
Will states continue to file lawsuits against ObamaCare and resist its imposition?
The modus operandi of George Soros has been the same for decades, whether playing with money or with politics. Find opportunities that have escaped most people's attention, exploit them, and gain wealth and power.
He has done it over and over, and he may very well be doing it in now in your very own state -- except it is not just your state, but also a state that Soros seems to consider his to own.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.