New editions of the State Legislative Tracker and The Policy Tracker available now!

George Soros

From Ballotpedia
Revision as of 21:30, 23 July 2012 by Maresa Strano (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
George soros lightbox.jpg
George Soros, (born August 12, 1930 in Budapest, Hungary) is a financial speculator, stock investor, philanthropist and political activist.[1]

Currently, he is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute and is also a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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.

Soros is famously known for "breaking the Bank of England" on Black Wednesday in 1992. With an estimated net worth of $9 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 97th-richest person in the world.[2]

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."[3]




  • Approveda Ohio Minimum Wage Initiative (2006). Soros gave $110,000 to the pro-committee.
  • Defeatedd 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.[5]

His insider trading conviction was upheld by the highest court in France on June 14, 2006.[6] 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.[7]

Political donations and activism

Two organizations involved with ballot initiatives who have benefitted 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.[8]

According to the National Review[9] 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,[10] 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, 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[11] 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.[12][13]

Criticism of political activism

In an editorial in September 2007, Investor's Business Daily criticized Soros for funding organizations such as 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."[14]

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.'"[15]


Authored or co-authored


  • 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


See also

External links


Portions of this article have been taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Copyright Notice can be found here.