The left-wing billionaire George Soros and his network of activist groups spent millions of dollars to help Janet Protasiewicz win a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a Washington Free Beacon analysis of campaign finance disclosure forms found.
The total amount of money stemming from groups bankrolled by the hedge-fund billionaire totals at least $2.8 million, accounting for a quarter of all outside spending for Protasiewicz in the most expensive state supreme court race in history. Soros also personally donated $1 million to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin on Feb. 22, which in turn flooded Protasiewicz’s campaign coffers with millions of dollars in the final weeks leading to the election.
Soros claims to have given away more than $12 billion dollars to various charities and political causes. Both Soros and activist groups he funds have spent more than $40 million in the last decade electing left-wing prosecutors around the country, which critics say is at least partially responsible for the nationwide crime spike.
Soros has remained laser-focused on reforming the nation’s legal system for years. His Open Society Foundations doubled their funding for Demand Justice, a left-wing activist group that seeks to remake the Supreme Court, to the tune of $4.5 million over three years beginning in 2021, according to tax filings first reported earlier this year. But Soros’s spending in Wisconsin signals that he seeks to remake state courts as well, in what appears to be his first major foray into a state supreme court race.
Sorors will likely see a solid return on his investment. Protasiewicz’s victory over conservative jurist Daniel Kelly gives liberals their first majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 15 years. The consequences of the election are expected to be transformational for the swing state, with the new court expected to rule on a number of hotly-contested issues including the legality of "right to work," abortion access, the state’s legislature map, and voter ID laws.
Many of the top-spending outside groups that supported Protasiewicz count Soros-funded non-profits as their top donors. The Better Wisconsin Together Political Action Fund, which spent $6.2 million on ads supporting the judge, received $1.6 million from the State Victory Action in the first three months of 2023. State Victory Action, in turn, received $1.6 million from the Soros-funded Democracy PAC in 2022, Federal Election Commission records show. State Victory Action was founded in 2018 with $11 million in seed funding from Soros and his fellow liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, the Free Beacon reported.
Prostasiewicz enjoyed a roughly $6 million spending advantage over her opponent in the $45 million contest, the most expensive state supreme court race in history.
The Wisconsin Conservation Voters Independent Expenditure Committee, which doled out $1 million in support of Protasiewicz, was bankrolled primarily by the Soros-funded nonprofit America Votes, which funneled $800,000 to the committee in late February and March. Soros’s Open Society network contributed a combined $40.4 million to America Votes from 2017 through 2021.
America Votes frequently passes money over to its affiliated Action Fund, such as in July 2022 when the group transferred $2 million to its political arm. The America Votes Action Fund then contributed $447,500 to the Power to the Polls Action Fund in March, enabling the group to spend over $540,000 on mailings, canvassing, and ads in support of Protasiewicz.
One group Soros did not finance was the Organizing Empowerment PAC, whose murky funding became a flashpoint in the contentious race. The group spent $532,500 on voter mobilization efforts for Protasiewicz, but hasn’t disclosed any of its donors to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. The Republican Party of Wisconsin alleged the PAC’s failure to disclose its donors to the state was part of a "shady" and illegal scheme to elect Protasiewicz in a March 14 complaint to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission.
Kelly echoed that claim in his concession speech, claiming "This was the most deeply deceitful, dishonorable, despicable campaign I have ever seen run for the courts."
Few other individuals devoted as much money to electing Protasiewicz as Soros, who is a consistent subject of Republican ire. Most recently, Soros has been in the spotlight regarding his role in electing Democratic Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, who this month charged former president Donald Trump with 32 felonies over hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Legal observers from across the political spectrum have criticized Bragg’s case as flimsy and politically motivated.
Update: April 7, 7:12 p.m.: This piece has been updated to reflect the timeline of Open Society Foundations' $4.5 million donation to Demand Justice.
Published under: Abortion , Democratic Donors , George Soros , Judicial Nominations , Supreme Court , Wisconsin