George Soros Spent Record Amount Lobbying During Trump’s First Year
Liberal billionaire George Soros spent more on lobbying during President Donald Trump's first year in office than he has in any previous year, disclosure forms show.
The Open Society Policy Center, a D.C.-based 501 (c)(4) nonprofit that focuses on domestic and international advocacy efforts and is a separate entity from Soros's Open Society Foundations, poured $16.2 million into lobbying throughout the entirety of 2017.
Soros's group reported spending $4.6 million during the first half of 2017 on its lobbying efforts. During the third quarter, Soros added $1.25 million to the total. Most of the lobbying expenditures—$10.3 million—were spent during the fourth quarter, which spans from October 1 to December 31.
Soros ramped up his efforts as the year progressed by pushing funds toward issues that have been seen as a direct attack on the deep-pocketed financier, such as Hungary's Bill on Foreign Funded Organizations (LexNGO), a crackdown on foreign-funded organizations in that country.
Hungary's parliament approved the law that targets foreign-funded NGOs in June of last year, saying they could "threaten the country's political and economic interests and interfere with the functioning of its institutions."
While the legislation does not mention Soros, who was born in Hungary and has given money to a number of NGOs in the country, by name, Hungarian politicians have said that they wanted to "sweep out" organizations tied to the financier, Bloomberg reported.
Soros also pushed funds to lobby on the Restricted First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018, and the Preventing Pre-emptive War in North Korea Act of 2017, among others, according to the disclosure forms. The Open Society Policy Center lobbied the Senate, House of Representatives, State Department, National Security Council, and the Department of Defense last year.
"We make different grants each year depending on what is happening in Congress and there was a lot going in 2017: Protecting immigrants and refugees, preserving fairness in the tax code, advocating for criminal justice reform, pressing for disaster relief for Puerto Rico, and promoting a progressive U.S. foreign policy," said Jonathan Kaplan, a spokesman for the Open Society Policy Center.
Between 2002 and 2012, the policy center reported spending a total of $19,120,000 lobbying Congress and agencies, an average of $1.9 million on lobbying per year. The most Soros had spent on lobbying prior to last year was $12.4 million in 2014.
The group's disclosure forms also show that Soros has recruited the help of a number of outside lobbying shops in the past including Orion Strategies, the Mitchell Firm, and Glover Park Group, all D.C.-based firms, on top of its three in-house lobbyists.
The Open Society Policy Center hauled in $17 million in contributions in 2015, according to the group's most recent tax forms. During that year, one of the group's largest grant disbursements went to the Advocacy Fund, an organization that helps to navigate "lobbying, political and funding rules to win campaigns for social change," in the amount of $800,000.
The Advocacy Fund is involved with Demos, a New York-based public policy organization whose board of directors is chaired by Amelia Warren Tyagi, the daughter of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.). Indivisible, one of the most prominent anti-Trump groups today, is also listed under the Advocacy Fund's projects.
Gara LaMarche, who sat on the board of directors of the policy center during the time covered by its most recent tax forms, and is still a member of its board, is now the president of the Democracy Alliance, a secretive donor club where Soros is a founding partner. The alliance consists of wealthy liberals who each vow to steer hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to progressive groups.
The Free Beacon attended the group's secretive fall investment conference held last November at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. and obtained confidential documents at the retreat where the group was planning its next steps in the "resistance."
Soros, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), headlined the event.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), a potential Democratic presidential hopeful for 2020, introduced Soros with a "special videotaped message." Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) also delivered a video message to the group. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D.) and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D., Minn.), who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), were in attendance.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), not listed on the agenda, was also spotted at the resort.
David Brock, the former conservative investigative journalist turned Clinton loyalist and founder of Media Matters for America, was also not listed in the agenda but was present at the gathering.
Brock held his own donor conference at the Turnberry Isle Miami resort in Aventura, Fla., last January where he huddled with more than 100 liberal donors to map out how they would "kick Donald Trump's ass."
The Free Beacon obtained the private and confidential memo Brock handed out to donors at the event outlining his four-year agenda to attack Trump and Republicans using Media Matters, American Bridge, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and Shareblue.