A foundation headed by hedge fund billionaire George Soros contributed $1.4 million to support Proposition 47, a campaign to downgrade drug possession and minor theft charges to misdemeanors in California, a report said.
The power of nonprofit foundations to change state law was shown by the bankrolling of the $9.5-million campaign, the Los Angeles Times said, quoting data from new campaign reports.
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Opponents reported spending a total of $550, 000, much of it raised from law enforcement groups, the Times said.
The main “Yes on 47” committee, aimed at changing sentencing laws in California, reported spending $9 million on the ballot measure, more than twice what the committee’s previous spending report showed, the report said.
The biggest chunk of Proposition 47 funding came from Soros, whose Open Society Foundation contributed $1.4 million directly. Other Soros money was less visible, according to the Times.
An Open Society spokesperson acknowledged to The Times that one month before election day, the Soros foundation made a $50-million grant to the American Civil Liberties Union — money available for spending even though the terms of the award were still being worked out, the Times said.
An ACLU spokeswoman confirmed that part of the Soros grant, which was not announced until after the election, was used in the California campaign, the report said.
The ACLU gave $3.5 million to the Proposition 47 campaign in the weeks before the election. The Soros grant will not be publicly disclosed until the organization’s federal tax filings are due more than a year from now, according to the Times.
Meanwhile, an article in the Huffington Post, focusing on last month’s “Freedom Summit” of Republicans in Iowa, named Soros as a member of the big-money caucus of the Democrats along with environmental activist Tom Steyer.