Independent Committee Supporting Ellison Is Half Funded by Alexander Soros

Publishing their polls online follows trend of some federal Democratic PACs

Rep. Keith Ellison / Getty Images

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Alexander Soros, the son of billionaire political activist George Soros, donated $100,000 to an independent expenditure committee intended to support Rep. Keith Ellison's bid to become attorney general of Minnesota, an amount that represents slightly less than half of all funds raised by the committee.

Although he does not give on the same scale as his father, Alexander Soros is still a significant donor to Democrat and progressive causes. The Washington Free Beacon reported in September that Alex had contributed almost $3 million to Democratic committees this election cycle.

Alex works as the deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, a grant-making group that describes itself as working "to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens." The Open Society Foundations, meanwhile, receives the bulk of its funding from George Soros.

The independent expenditure committee, calling itself the People's Lawyer PAC, has spent the bulk its funds on polling, some of which it has published on its website.

While the intent of the committee can not be known, publishing its own polling online appears to mirror tactics detailed in a report from Politico this June describing how independent expenditure committees and PACs can manage to legally coordinate with their candidate by publishing various media in the public domain, even though explicit coordination is supposed to be prohibited by law.

"Coordination between campaigns and outside groups is illegal, though both parties' election lawyers regularly give candidates a green light to evade that ban by sharing information in the public domain—for example, posting long YouTube clips clearly meant for use by friendly super PACs," the report said.

The report also quoted an attorney with a campaign finance watchdog saying the practice of coordinating by openly sharing information in the public domain was a "further deterioration" of rules meant to keep a firewall between candidates and the committees that can often receive unlimited donations.

According to campaign finance disclosures, the Soros donation was dated to late June of this year, meaning it would have happened before controversy erupted when a former girlfriend of Ellison's alleged he had been abusive in the couple's years-long relationship.

The nonprofit online news outlet MinnPost.com also noted that of all but one of the donations to the People's Lawyer PAC have come from outside the state.

Alex Soros, the People’s Lawyer PAC, and the Ellison campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

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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