Soros Dumps $450K Into Florida-based PAC

PAC worked against Rubio, tried to mobilize Puerto Rico community

Billionaire investor George Soros / Getty Images

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George Soros, the Hungarian-born financier and billionaire political activist, pumped $450,000 into the Florida-based PAC United for Progress, according to campaign finance records with the Florida secretary of state's office.

The donation represents the only political funding Soros undertook in the Sunshine state in the first quarter of 2018.

"United for Progress's primary goal remains to build community-based political power and influence in the growing Puerto Rican and Latino constituencies in Florida," Chairman Juan Marcos Vilar told the Washington Free Beacon by email. "United for Progress's local leadership has not made decisions about endorsement or opposition to any specific candidates in 2018."

Soros established United for Progress late September 2016, contributing $430,000 to the PAC in October of that year. The "Statement of Organization" documents only say that the purpose of the PAC is "Political, intending to pay for communications related to several candidate (sic)."

Politico reported that the group was "aimed at mobilizing central Florida's Puerto Rican voters, an increasingly sought-after slice of the electorate in a region packed with persuadable voters in the country's biggest battleground state."

Not long after, the Orlando Sentinel reported that United for Progress had "sent mailers and paid for TV ads in races from the U.S. House to the Orange County Commission."

Other documents show the PAC spent several thousands of dollars on mailers campaigning in 2016 against Florida Senator Marco Rubio's reelection effort

Given Florida's status as a swing state, it is not surprising he has a long history of making political donations in the state. The Florida secretary of state's website shows a total of just over $4.7 million in reported donations by him dating as far back as 2002, with most of that money being donated after 2014.

Apart from the United for Progress PAC, Soros has also been playing in the Florida governor's race, although all of the donations for that effort were made in 2017 to the PAC Forward Florida, established to help the candidacy of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum who has billed himself as the "most progressive" candidate in the Democratic field.

Soros has also used Florida to execute part of his national strategy to influence the criminal justice system, whereby he picks a progressive candidate in a local race for district attorney, then overwhelms the opposition with donations that are an order of magnitude larger than what the entire race would usually experience.

Soros used his PAC Florida for Safety and Justice in 2016 to push Aramis Ayala to victory for state attorney for Florida's Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, which serves Orange and Osceola counties in the central part of the state.

Correction 1:38 p.m.: A previous version of this article said the Florida secretary of state's website shows a total of just over $3.7 million in donations from Soros. The donations actually totaled $4.7 million.

Todd Shepherd

Todd Shepherd   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Todd Shepherd is a staff writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He began his reporting career in radio, working as an anchor and reporter for KOMA in Oklahoma City and KOA in Denver. He spent eight years as the investigative reporter for the Independence Institute in Colorado, a free-market-based think tank. Campaigns and Elections magazine named him a "Top Colorado Influencer" for his reporting and news blog. He’s a graduate of the media studies program from Oklahoma Baptist University. His Twitter handle is @shepherdreports.

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