How much exactly does “social justice” cost?
Liberal billionaire George Soros spent at least $40 million over the last decade to answer that question, according to our latest research. Those millions helped elect scores of progressive prosecutors bent on remaking the criminal justice system to Soros’ liking.
It’s not to Americans’ liking, as San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s recall Tuesday shows. Soros didn’t fund Boudin directly, but he donated to an anti-recall PAC. And Boudin is the first face on the “Meet the Movement” page of the Soros-funded Fair and Just Prosecution, whose conferences he’s attended.
From 2014 to 2021, Soros’ $40 million in campaign spending helped elect so-called social justice prosecutors across the country while dozens more benefited from the billionaire’s largesse while in office. About 75 Soros-linked district attorneys control the jurisdictions of 72 million Americans — one in five — from Manhattan to Portland, Los Angeles to Philadelphia.
And Soros isn’t done yet.
Just this year, Soros has invested even more in DA races in Little Rock, Ark. ($321,000), California’s Contra Costa County ($652,000) and Portland, Maine ($300,000).
In Arkansas, the Soros-financed group Justice and Public Safety PAC was the largest independent spender in the state’s May primaries, dropping 10 times as much cash as the campaign of Soros’ preferred candidate, Alicia Walton.
While Walton lost in Little Rock, most of Soros’ bets pay dividends. Soros-connected DAs’ powers extend across large swaths of the country including 25 of the 50 largest cities and counties, the quiet suburbs of Washington, DC, and central Wisconsin’s rural farming communities.
Across those jurisdictions, these prosecutors are transforming the justice system from within. In the name of reducing perceived inequities, many have unilaterally stopped seeking cash bail, preferring release on recognizance to detention. They refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities, drop felonies down to no-jail misdemeanors and seek lenient sentences for serious (and violent) offenders — often with tragic results.
Meanwhile, they’ve antagonized law enforcement and alienated their own staffs. Seasoned career prosecutors have been leaving en masse — with 75% to 100% turnover recorded across Soros-linked DAs’ offices from Philadelphia to St. Louis and San Francisco.
And those experienced assistant district attorneys are desperately needed as disorder and violent crime soar across America. Although representing only 22% of the country’s population, progressive prosecutors’ offices covered 40% of 2021 homicide cases and a third of all violent crime.
The volume and nature of the felony cases under these prosecutors’ supervision mean their policies can and do have consequences for neighboring communities and the nation, as crime often bleeds over county and state lines.
In Fairfax, Va., the Soros-funded prosecutor’s leniency abetted murder in the case of a career criminal accused of shooting five homeless men in New York City and Washington, DC, killing two. After breaking into two different Virginia hotels and attempting to abduct and sexually assault a maid, Gerald Brevard faced a sentence of 26 years to life in late 2020. But chief prosecutor Steve Descano cut him a sweetheart deal — dropping the felonies to misdemeanors with only five months behind bars.
In 2019, Descano — with no prior criminal law experience — was vaulted almost single-handedly into office by Soros’ campaign cash. Of the $950,000 in donations candidate Descano received, $659,000 came through two PACs funded either solely or largely by Soros, with another $50,000 coming from groups or individuals closely tied to Soros. That’s $3 out of every $4 linked to a single billionaire’s largesse.
Elsewhere, the amount and share of Soros’ generosity are even larger: San Antonio DA Joe Gonzales took more than $1.4 million from the exclusively Soros-funded Texas Justice and Public Safety PAC in 2018 — nearly 90% of his campaign haul. Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner raked in nearly $3 million from Soros-linked entities for his bids for office in 2017 and 2021.
In Manhattan, Soros put $1.3 million into PACs backing Alvin Bragg for his DA race.
While he has had some high-profile misses (San Diego in 2018 and Rochester in 2019), Soros’ efforts are usually successful in installing his preferred candidate (and policies) in power.
In just 10 races between 2018 and 2021, Soros spent $13 million either directly or through third-party groups to elect his choice.
On top of direct donations, Soros has built a progressive-prosecutor infrastructure with dozens of satellite groups supporting radical DAs in their efforts to upend the criminal justice system. With hundreds of millions in Soros dollars and even more from ultra-wealthy donor-allies, ideological professional associations and advocacy groups train, organize and fête social justice reformers in white papers, at conferences and on faraway junkets to Kenya and Portugal.
Those investments have paid off beyond the ballot box as well. Soros, who is chief donor and chairman of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading advocate for legalizing narcotics, has seen his preferred prosecutors decriminalize drugs, end death-penalty and hate-crimes enhancements and release jail and prison inmates to a degree previously unfathomable.
For Soros and his prosecutors, you get what you pay for.
Jason Johnson, the former deputy commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, is president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. Sean Kennedy is LELDF’s policy director and a visiting fellow at the Maryland Public Policy Institute.