In the United States, he is known for having donated large sums of money in a failed effort to defeat President George W. Bush's bid for re-election in 2004. He is also known to have been a major supporter for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election, and supported multiple organizations working towards that end.
Ballot initiative activism
A profile in the Phoenix New Times in 2000 said, "Business tycoons George Soros, John Sperling and Peter Lewis use the initiative process as their own private laboratory, funding campaigns around the country -- including Arizona's two medical marijuana initiatives -- to the tune of millions."
- California Proposition 27, Elimination of Citizen Redistricting Commission (2010), $100,000 as of October 11, 2010.
- California Proposition 5 (2008), $1,400,000 as of September 6, 2008.
- California Proposition 82 (2006), $25,000 in support.
- California Proposition 66 (2004), $500,000 in support.
- California Proposition 36 (2000), $1,193,005 in support.
- Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative (2008), $400,000 through May 2008.
- Ohio Minimum Wage Initiative (2006). Soros gave $110,000 to the pro-committee.
- Ohio Issue 4 (2005). Soros gave $300,000 to a campaign committee seeking to pass a ballot measure to re-structure how Ohio residents define state legislative districts. The measure lost, with 33% in favor.
Insider trading charges
In 1988, he was asked to join a takeover attempt of the French bank Société Générale. He declined to participate in the bid, but did later buy a number of shares in the company. French authorities began an investigation in 1989, and in 2002 a French court ruled that it was insider trading as defined under French securities laws and fined him $2 million which was the amount that he made using the insider information.
Punitive damages were not sought because of the delay in bringing the case to trial. Soros denied any wrongdoing and said news of the takeover was public knowledge.
His insider trading conviction was upheld by the highest court in France on June 14, 2006. In December, 2006 he appealled to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that the 14 year delay in bringing the case to trial precluded a fair hearing.
Political donations and activism
Two organizations involved with ballot initiatives who have benefited from Soros donations include the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center and America Coming Together (ACT). Soros is said to have donated $14.5 million to ACT.
According to the National Review the Open Society Institute gave $20,000 in September 2002 to the Defense Committee of Lynne Stewart, the lawyer who has defended alleged terrorists in court and was sentenced to 2⅓ years in prison for "providing material support for a terrorist conspiracy" via a press conference for a client. An OSI spokeswoman said "it appeared to us at that time that there was a right-to-counsel issue worthy of our support."
In an interview with The Washington Post on November 11, 2003, Soros said that removing President George W. Bush from office was the "central focus of my life" and "a matter of life and death." He said he would sacrifice his entire fortune to defeat President Bush, "if someone guaranteed it," and many continue to state this as Soros's position even after Soros clarified the humorous nature of the statement in a Q&A session at the end of his March 3, 2004 address to California's Commonwealth Club.
Soros gave $3 million to the Center for American Progress, committed $5 million to MoveOn.org, while he and his friend Peter Lewis each gave America Coming Together $10 million. (All were groups that worked to support Democrats in the 2004 presidential election. On September 28, 2004 he dedicated more money to the campaign and kicked off his own multi-state tour with a speech: Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Soros was not a large donor to US political causes until the 2004 elections, but according to the Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2003-2004 election cycle, Soros donated $23,581,000 to various 527 groups dedicated to defeating President Bush.
After Bush's re-election in 2004, Soros and other wealthy liberal political donors backed a new political fundraising group called the Democracy Alliance which aims to support the goals of the U.S. Democratic Party.
Criticism of political activism
In an editorial in September 2007, Investor's Business Daily criticized Soros for funding organizations such as MoveOn.org and has claimed that Soros is not transparent in the way he gives away his money. The newspaper said: "The irony here is that Soros claims to be an advocate of an 'open society.' His OSI does just the legal minimum to disclose its activities. The public shouldn't have to wait until an annual report is out before the light is flipped on about the Open Society's political action."
IBD said that Soros' giving cannot be considered philanthropy to the extent that it is political activism. The newspaper said that "'philanthropy' may be the wrong word. Unlike, say, Bill Gates, who really does put the bulk of his charity into helping the world's poor through medical services, Soros tends to fund pressure groups and foundations he misleadingly characterizes as promoting 'civil society' and 'democracy.'"
- The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror (PublicAffairs, 2006) ISBN 1-58648-359-1
- With MoveOn.org, MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country: How to Find Your Political Voice and Become a Catalyst for Change Inner Ocean Publishing, 2004 ISBN 1-930722-29-X
- The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power (PublicAffairs, 2003) ISBN 1-58643-217-3 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2004; ISBN 1-58648-292-0)
- George Soros on Globalization (PublicAffairs, 2002) ISBN 1-58648-125-8 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2005; ISBN 1-52648-278-5)
- Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism (PublicAffairs, 2001) ISBN 1-58648-039-7
- With Mark Amadeus Notturno, Science and the Open Society: The Future of Karl Popper's Philosophy (Central European University Press, 2000) ISBN 963-9116-69-6 (paperback: Central European University Press, 2000; ISBN 943-9116-70-X)
- The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered (PublicAffairs, 1998) ISBN 1-891220-27-4
- Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve (John Wiley, 1995) ISBN 0-471-12014-6 (paperback; Wiley, 1995; ISBN 0-371-11977-6)
- Underwriting Democracy: Encouraging Free Enterprise and Democratic Reform Among the Soviets and in Eastern Europe (Free Press, 1991) ISBN 0-02-930285-4 (paperback; PublicAffairs, 2004; ISBN 1-58948-227-0)
- Opening the Soviet System (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1990) ISBN 0-297-82155-9 (paperback: Perseus Books, 1996; ISBN 0-8133-1205-1)
- The Alchemy of Finance (Simon & Schuster, 1988) ISBN 0-671-66338-4 (paperback: Wiley, 2003; ISBN 0-471-44549-5)
- Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire by Michael T. Kaufman (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002) ISBN 0-375-40585-2
- Soros: The Unauthorized Biography, the Life, Times and Trading Secrets of the World's Greatest Investor by Robert Slater (McGraw-Hill, 1997) ISBN 0-7863-1247-5
- James Dellinger and Matthew Vadum, "George Soros's Democracy Alliance: In Search Of A Permanent Democratic Majority," (dead link) Foundation Watch, December 2006
- Stephen Adams "Furious George" on Citizen - Family Issues in Policy and Culture
- Laura Blumenfeld, Billionaire Soros Takes On Bush, MSNBC, November 11, 2003
- Neil Clark Analysis of Soros' role in Eastern Europe from "New Statesman"
- Malcolm Gladwell, "Blowing Up," New Yorker Magazine, April 22 & 29, 2002, at gladwell.com (dead link).
- John Horvath The Soros Effect on Central and Eastern Europe
- Matt Welch, Open Season on 'Open Society': Why an anti-communist Holocaust survivor is being demonized as a Socialist, Self-hating Jew (dead link)' Reason magazine, December 8, 2003
- Martin Peretz, "Tyran-a-Soros: The Madness of King George," The New Republic, February 12, 2007.
- TIME's 25 Most Influential Americans, TIME Magazine April 21, 1997. Accessed May 21, 2007.
- The TIME 100, The Power Givers, George Soros, TIME Magazine May 14, 2007 accessed May 21, 2007.
- Ballot Initiative Strategy Center
- America Coming Together
- Ralph Nader v. Democratic National Committee
- Secretary of State Project
- Article about George Soros on Wikipedia
- George Soros official site and blog
- Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations Network
- Fortune City List of articles and speeches by and about George Soros (dead link)
- George Soros' Political Campaign Contributions
- Forbes.com: Forbes 400 Richest in America (dead link)
- George Soros's current stock holdings
- "Turning Dollars into Change," Time Magazine, September 1, 1997
- Forbes List of Billionaires, March 2008
- Phoenix New Times, "Autograph Hound," April 13, 2000
- This list is not complete.
- David Brancaccio interviews George Soros, Now, PBS, September 12, 2003, accessed Feb. 8, 2007.
- Insider trading conviction of Soros is upheld (International Herald Tribune) (dead link)
- Soros appeals conviction for insider trading, Billionaire takes French conviction to European court (International Herald Tribune)December 14, 2006
- York, Byron, Soros Funded Stewart Defense (dead link), National Review Online," accessed February 7, 2007
- Soros's Deep Pockets vs. Bush
- Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush
- Capital Research report (dead link)
- "New Alliance Of Democrats Spreads Funding," Washington Post, July 2007
- The Soros Threat to Democracy, Investor's Business Daily, Sept. 24, 2007
- George Soros: The Man, The Mind And The Money Behind MoveOn, Investor's Business Daily, Sept. 20, 2007