Politics

Soros Spends Big to Help Prosecutor Who Dropped Jussie Smollett Charges

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx (R) and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson / Getty Images

George Soros and other liberal billionaires are pushing large sums of cash into Chicago to back the far-left prosecutor whose office dropped charges against Jussie Smollett, the actor who staged a "hate crime" he attributed to Trump supporters.

The reelection efforts of Kim Foxx, state's attorney for Cook County, Ill., received a boost from the Illinois Justice & Public Safety PAC. The committee, founded to support Foxx, has spent six figures on media productions and direct mail backing Foxx's candidacy, state records show, making it Foxx's largest backer so far. The PAC received its entire $2 million budget from a group created and funded by Soros.

Soros has for years poured millions into district attorney and prosecutor races across the country backing candidates who want to radically overhaul the criminal justice system. The candidates often campaign on reducing incarceration rates by bringing lower-level charges for higher-level offenses. One such Soros-backed district attorney, Larry Krasner of Philadelphia, purged dozens of prosecutors primarily from the homicide division, drug enforcement, and civil asset forfeiture units within days of taking office.

Foxx, who received $408,000 from Soros during her first election in 2016, set off widespread criticism for her office's handling of the Smollett case. The actor claimed he was attacked by two white masked individuals in the streets of Chicago who yelled "This is MAGA country," tied a rope around his neck, and doused him in bleach. The story quickly unraveled after evidence emerged that Smollett hired two men to fake the attack. Foxx's office dropped the charges against him. Following a special prosecutor's probe into Foxx's handling of the Smollett case, a grand jury indicted Smollett on six counts of disorderly conduct in relation to making false reports to the Chicago Police Department.

Soros has renewed his support for Foxx in the wake of the Smollett controversy. On Feb. 19, the Democracy PAC, a federal super PAC Soros created for the 2020 elections, deposited $2 million into the coffers of the Illinois Justice & Public Safety PAC. That contribution is the pro-Foxx PAC's sole source of funding. Soros put $5.1 million into the Democracy PAC in the first half of 2019.

Other deep-pocketed liberal donors and progressive groups have cut hefty checks to keep Foxx in office.

Donald Sussman, a billionaire hedge fund manager and major Democratic donor, has given $100,000 to Foxx's campaign. Fred Eychaner, chairman of Newsweb Corporation, has provided $600,000. Michael Sacks, CEO of the Chicago-based Grosvenor Capital Management, gave $400,000. EMILY's List, the SEIU, and the Real Justice PAC, a committee run by Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King, each sent hefty donations to Foxx's campaign.

Unlike past prosecutor races in which Soros gave his preferred candidate a staggering fundraising advantage, the field has been level in the Chicago race. Bill Conway, one of Foxx's Democratic primary challengers, has been fueled by millions from his wealthy father. The primary will take place on March 17.

Whitney Tymas, longtime treasurer for Soros's criminal justice PACs, and Sacks did not respond to inquiries. Sussman and Eychaner could not be reached for comment.

Apart from several losses in California, Soros has achieved significant success in electing his candidates of choice around the country. In addition to Foxx and Krasner, Kim Gardner, St. Louis's circuit attorney; Aramis Ayala, the state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties in Florida; and Stephanie Morales, the Portsmouth, Va., commonwealth attorney, among others, all received cash from Soros. The financier most recently racked up prosecutor wins in Virginia, where his preferred candidates ousted two Democratic incumbents.

Soros has vowed to spend $10 million to combat hate crimes. "We must do something to push back against what’s happening here," he said following Trump's 2016 victory, adding that the election had awakened "dark forces." Soros's Open Society Foundations immediately started disbursing the grants to liberal and civil rights groups.

Some of Soros's pledged cash went toward a massive "hate crime" project now used by more than 100 media entities including Google News Labs, New York Times Opinion, Huffington Post, and ABC News, the Washington Free Beacon previously discovered. The database used for the project, however, is completely unverified. It relies on the likes of the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center for finding stories for the database. Reporters from the media partners have access to the database for story purposes.

Richard Tofel, the president of ProPublica, the investigative news group that hosts the project, told the Free Beacon it's up to reporters to do additional legwork to verify the authenticity of the database's stories. Tofel said Soros's money made it possible to launch and maintain the project before Google took over its funding.