Soros-Backed Prosecutor Candidates Sweep Virginia Races

Billionaire sent $2M to four attorney candidates in bid to reshape Va.'s criminal justice system

George Soros / Getty Images
November 6, 2019

All four Virginia prosecutor candidates backed liberal billionaire George Soros emerged victorious in Tuesday’s elections.

Soros and other liberal Democrats spent millions on prosecutor races ahead of the elections in a bid to overhaul the state's criminal justice system, supporting candidates who vowed to introduce criminal justice reform and change the state's policies on the death penalty. In addition to the $1.2 million in funds Soros spent on House of Delegates and Senate races in the commonwealth, he funneled an additional $2 million to four Democratic prosecutor candidates.

Their candidates' wins could lead to a major shift in Virginia's criminal justice system.

Among the candidates backed by Soros was Buta Biberaj, the Democrat running in the Loudon County commonwealth attorney race. Biberaj received nearly $850,000 from the Justice and Public Safety PAC, a D.C.-based committee financed by Soros. The PAC was by far the largest donor to the campaign.

Biberaj defeated the recently appointed Republican commonwealth attorney Nicole Wittmann 51.17 percent to 48.73 percent. Biberaj also received $18,000 in in-kind donations for canvassing and phone banking services from New Virginia Majority, a civic engagement and issue advocacy group that received $75,000 from Soros's Justice and Public Safety PAC earlier this year.

Steve Descano, the liberal candidate in Fairfax County, was the recipient of $600,000 from Soros's PAC. Descano defeated independent candidate Jonathan Fahey 61.34 percent to 38.38 percent. Descano expressed interest in putting together a coalition of prosecutors to lobby for progressive legislation following the elections. Soros's PAC was the most generous donor to his campaign.

The PAC also gave a $5,000 donation to Albemarle County commonwealth's attorney candidate Jim Hingeley, who won his election by a 56.26 percent to 43.56 percent margin over Robert Tracci. Hingeley received most of his funds—$114,000—from Sonjia Smith, a Virginia Democratic megadonor who is married to Michael Bills, founder of the Charlottesville-based investment firm Blue Asset Management LLC. The couple has combined to pour $3 million into Virginia efforts this election cycle.

The Virginia prosecutor candidates are not the first to receive money from Soros. In recent years, the billionaire has funded district attorney and prosecutor races in several states including California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and New Mexico.

Soros also pushed $1.2 million into Virginia from his Democracy PAC, a committee established earlier this year for the 2020 election cycle, to back various other politicians in House of Delegate and Senate races. The state was viewed as pivotal for recapturing power by the nation's most prominent donors and organizations and saw more than $13 million flow in from such individuals and entities.