George Gascon, Kim Foxx and Larry Krasner get most of the attention, but they are far from the only left-wing prosecutors whose campaigns were bankrolled by Democratic megadonor George Soros.
A report from the conservative Capital Research Center revealed that 24 district attorneys have been elected since 2015 with help from political action committees funded by the billionaire activist. Most of them are pursuing liberal policies that critics blame for soaring crime rates.
Parker Thayer, the researcher who wrote the report, said Mr. Soros’ “influence on left-wing DA candidates is often wildly underestimated.”
Since 2016, he said, Mr. Soros’ “personal network of political action committees formed specifically to back left-wing DA candidates” has doled out at least $29 million.
“Most Americans have no idea what happened,” Mr. Thayer told The Washington Times. “They see the headlines, they see the crime taking over cities, but regrettably few know that these crime surges are largely the direct result of George Soros’ influence and his generous funding of the left-wing ‘Rogue Prosecutor’ movement.”
Critics have countered that violent crime shot up even in jurisdictions where far-left prosecutors are not in charge, including some cities run by Republicans, and that overall crime has declined slightly, even though homicides have spiked.
Mr. Krasner, who won his 2017 and 2021 elections for Philadelphia district attorney with more than $2 million from Soros-supported PACs, was slammed last month after declaring, “We don’t have a crisis of crime.” He later said he was referring to overall violent crime.
Philadelphia recorded 559 homicides in 2021, the most since the city began keeping records in the 1960s.
“Under Krasner’s watch, crime rates have soared, and in 2021, Philadelphia became the murder capital of the United States with the highest per capita homicide rate of the country’s 10 largest cities,” the center’s report said.
All but one of the two dozen Soros-supported prosecutors cited in the report still hold office. A third have won reelection despite the mounting criticism over policies popular with the left such as down-charging defendants and eliminating or reducing cash bail.
Newly elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whose campaign received $1.1 million from Soros-funded groups, kicked off his tenure this month by declaring he would no longer seek prison sentences for low-level crimes and would downgrade some felonies, including drug crimes and armed robbery, to misdemeanors.
The policy prompted a petition backed by former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa seeking an amendment to the state constitution giving New Yorkers the ability to recall officeholders.
Wonder what’s going on when people talk about “the Soros DAs?” Here’s your fast primer: https://t.co/3mWNY0uNfP
— Capital Research (@capitalresearch) January 19, 2022
Elsewhere, a half-dozen prosecutors are the targets of recall efforts, including Los Angeles County DA George Gascon. A recall petition that circulated last year fizzled amid pandemic restrictions, but organizers launched a second effort last month.
Other Soros-backed prosecutors in the news include Chicago’s Kim Foxx, who declined to prosecute actor Jussie Smollett for faking a 2019 hate crime. A special prosecutor found “substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures” in her office’s handling of the case.
Since her 2016 win with at least $190,750 in reported Soros-linked funding, St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner has been accused of using her office for political gain. A judge disqualified her from prosecuting Mark McCloskey on weapons charges after she sent out fundraising emails on the case.
Not all the Soros-backed prosecutors have marched to a liberal beat. Brian Middleton in Fort Bend County, Texas, and Darius Pattillo in Henry County, Georgia, received contributions from Soros-funded PACs but have not followed up with left-wing policies, according to the report.
In addition, not every liberal prosecutor owes their political win to Mr. Soros. Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who was indicted this month on perjury charges by a federal grand jury, has not received Soros funding, according to the center.
Capital Research Center President Scott Walter credited Mr. Soros with inspiring other Democratic donors to dabble in the criminal-justice arena.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which was started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Chan Zuckerberg, recently gave $1 million to the liberal Tides Center’s Fair and Just Prosecution project to “promote thought leadership for elected district attorneys.”
“I’d say that makes things worse: Soros kick-started a movement, which is a worse problem than one guy funding some dangerous candidates,” Mr. Walter said. “Parker [the report author] has already shown Zuckerberg is getting in on the action. Who knows how many will follow?”
Not every Soros-backed candidate has prevailed. Mr. Thayer said he counts at least nine who lost their races despite the funding infusion.
The effort has given prosecutors a platform on which to seek higher office. That includes Aramis Ayala, who served one term as state’s attorney for the 9th Judiciary Circuit Court of Florida after her surprise 2016 win with $1.3 million from the Soros-backed Florida Safety and Justice PAC.
Ms. Ayala declined to seek reelection and announced last year that she would run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Val Demings, Florida Democrat.
Ms. Demings is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
Replacing Ms. Ayala was another Soros pick: Monique Worrell. She pulled off the 2020 upset after a last-minute $1.5 million ad campaign funded by Soros-backed committees, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Ms. Ayala drew headlines for announcing that she would refuse to pursue the death penalty, prompting then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove her from capital cases. In 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis reassigned a high-profile murder-dismemberment case to another state’s attorney.