Alex Soros recently took over his father’s left-wing nonprofit, Open Society Foundations, which aims to root out government corruption in foreign countries. But the younger Soros may have undermined that mission in his July 4 meeting with a European leader implicated in the alleged bribery of a top FBI counterintelligence official.
Soros and former president Bill Clinton met with Albanian prime minister Edi Rama in Tirana, according to Soros’s social media posts. Soros touted Rama, the head of Albania’s socialist party, as his "brother" and one of the world’s great leaders. But Rama’s reputation has taken a major hit in the wake of the indictment of former FBI counterintelligence official Charles McGonigal.
What a treat to be with President Clinton in Albania. One of the most pro-American countries in the world & a stalwart ally thanks in part to its prime minister @ediramaal, who is coincidently born on July 4th. Great to spend today with an 🇺🇸 hero and one of the US’s best friends pic.twitter.com/JuNqBvFfuI
— Alex Soros (@AlexanderSoros) July 5, 2023
According to federal prosecutors, McGonigal sold access to Rama and other Albanian officials for hundreds of thousands of dollars while still on the FBI payroll. After meetings with Rama, the Albanian leader allegedly fed McGonigal information about an American lobbyist who worked for Rama’s political rival. McGonigal then allegedly coaxed FBI colleagues to open an investigation into the lobbyist.
McGonigal is charged with concealing his ties to foreign nationals and making false statements. Rama has denied wrongdoing, but it is not the first time he has been accused of using Americans to help him politically. In 2019, an Albanian-American businessman admitted he made $80,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Barack Obama on Rama’s behalf in 2012. Rama allegedly wanted a photo-op with the American president in order to help his campaign for prime minister.
Soros’s meetings with the embattled Albanian leader could raise questions about Open Society’s claim to support "open" and "democratic" governments in Albania and across the world. Open Society has spent tens of millions of dollars in the Balkan nation since 1992, funding organizations to "strengthen local democracy" and fight organized crime. The philanthropy spent $2 million in Albania in 2020, largely on judicial reform and to enhance "democratic practice." Open Society spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on groups in the United States that back the movement to defund police, expand the Supreme Court, and enact radical climate change initiatives.
Alex Soros, who his father tapped to lead Open Society earlier this year, has used his connections to the Biden White House to advocate for foreign leaders supported by Open Society. Soros has met at least five times with Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer, the Washington Free Beacon reported. One of those meetings occurred the same day the Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited the White House. Soros was accompanied in the meeting by Pedro Abramovay, the director of Open Society’s Rio De Janeiro office who served in Lula’s previous administration. It is unclear whether Soros has discussed Rama during his White House visits.
The younger Soros’s tenure is off to a rocky start. Open Society announced last week it will slash its workforce by at least 40 percent in order to create a "nimbler" organization. The charity is offering "well–being" workshops to its employees in the wake of the layoffs.
Soros’s and Clinton’s visit to Tirana could provide Rama a much-needed reputational boost at home and abroad as he faces questions about his relationship with McGonigal. Albania’s opposition party called for Rama to appear before Parliament to answer questions about his relationship with the disgraced FBI official, who led the counterintelligence division at the FBI’s New York City field office. Rama has refused to appear before Parliament, and said the allegations were "to politically exploit a legal process in the USA that has no links at all to Albania, the government or me personally."
Clinton appeared with Rama at an event in Tirana to accept the Great Star of Gratitude for Public Achievements, the highest honor bestowed by Albania’s prime minister on foreigners. Soros hailed Albania as a "great ally" of the United States, and credited the "leadership of Edi Rama."
"And what a coincidence that Edi Rama was born on the Fourth of July!!! Ringing in Independence Day and my brother Edi’s bday with these two great men was a highlight I will forever cherish!" Soros wrote in social media posts adorned with photos of him, Clinton, and Rama.
Rama met with McGonigal at least four times before McGonigal retired from the FBI in 2018. According to prosecutors, McGonigal lobbied Rama on behalf of an Albanian-American businessman, Agra Neza, who sought contracts with the Albanian government. Neza allegedly paid McGonigal $225,000 to arrange meetings with Rama and his adviser, Dorian Duka.
After a meeting with Rama in November 2017, McGonigal asked a federal prosecutor to investigate an American lobbyist for Rama’s chief party rival, the Democratic Party of Albania. The party was led by Lulzim Basha, a conservative who supported Donald Trump. Prosecutors allege that McGonigal obtained information from Rama’s office about the American lobbyist, Nicholas Muzin, and fed it to his colleagues at the FBI. The bureau officially opened an investigation into Muzin in February 2018. Neza and Duka served as sources for the FBI as part of the investigation, according to prosecutors.
Rama acknowledged in March that he met with McGonigal and Neza but denied paying bribes to the FBI official.
Open Society Foundations did not respond to a request for comment.