National Catholic Register

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Billionaire Pledges $10 Million to Defeat Pro-Life President

BY Joshua Mercer

August 24-30, 2003 Issue | Posted 8/24/03 at 12:00 PM

 

WASHINGTON — Multi-billionaire George Soros has committed $10 million to a new political organization designed to prevent President Bush from winning reelection. Pro-life advocates see the development as a reaction to pro-life advances made under the Bush administration and Republican control of Congress.

The group, representing labor, environmental and women's organizations, is dubbed Americans Coming Together.

It plans to spend $75 million to “elect progressive officials at every level in 2004” in 17 targeted states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“The fate of the world depends on the United States and President Bush is leading us in the wrong direction,” Soros maintained.

The billionaire cited the president's foreign policy as his chief motivation for starting the new political action committee.

“The ‘Bush doctrine’ is both false and dangerous. The rest of the world is having an allergic reaction to it, as we have seen in Iraq. We need to change direction,” Soros said.

Before this initiative, Soros was known primarily as a philanthropist. He has donated as much as $1 billion after the fall of the Soviet Union to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

According to the Capital Research Center, a Washington watchdog group that tracks grants to left-wing causes, Soros has also been a longtime supporter of abortion and euthanasia. His grant organization, the Open Society Institute, gave 150 grants totaling $30 million to pro-abortion programs from 1998 through this year.

“As the son of a mother who was a member of the Hemlock Society … I cannot but approve,” Soros said of the nation's most widely known pro-euthanasia organization. The Hemlock Society recently changed its name to Endof-Life Choices.

Soros, an immigrant from Hungary, put his money where his mouth is and his foundation gave a three-year $15 million grant to start a pro-euthanasia foundation called the Project on Death in America. The organization dispenses grants to other pro-euthanasia groups across the country.

Soros is not the only pro-abortion billionaire getting into the political arena these days. Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, who has supported pro-abortion causes, was appointed a financial adviser Aug. 13 to California gubernatorial hopeful and screen actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Americans Coming Together tapped Ellen Malcolm to run the new organization. Malcolm will also remain in her current position as head of Emily's List, which gives money only to female candidates who support unrestricted abortion on demand.

“Americans Coming Together's creation is further evidence that mainstream America is coming together in response to President Bush's extremism — on the environment, reproductive choice, workers’ rights, civil rights and other critical issues,” Malcolm said.

In addition to Soros’ contribution, Americans Coming Together has received $12 million dollars from other millionaires and an additional $8 million from labor unions.

That this political action committee has raised $30 million from well-financed individuals and organizations has many in the pro-life community openly questioning its contention of being “mainstream.”

“I wish I had George Soros and his millions,” said Carol Tobias, political director for the National Right to Life Committee. “But I'm not scared by it. The pro-life movement has always faced obstacles and overcome them.”

She said that electing pro-life candidates to office in 2004 would depend on grass-roots support from everyday people, not from billion-aires.

“We've known for a long time that the pro-abortion lobby has had more money than us. But we have more people on our side. And people can work, people can volunteer and people can convince friends and neighbors to vote for candidates,” she said.

“George Soros has a lot of money, but he only has one vote,” Tobias said.

Deal Hudson, editor of Crisis magazine and an adviser to the White House on Catholic issues, lamented that Soros has followed Microsoft chief executive officer Bill Gates in abortion advocacy.

“Once again, how tragic that one of the world's wealthiest has been paying his millions to reducing the world's population by supporting abortion,” he said.

Hudson said that while money is always crucial in elections, it would not be the most important factor in the races next year.

“Any party that fails to get out the grass-roots will lose regardless of the amount of money spent,” he said.

Americans Coming Together has said it won't spend its money on media-driven campaigns but in grass-roots activism.

Jennifer Bingham serves as executive director for the Susan B. Anthony List, which sees itself as the pro-life answer to Emily's List.

Bingham wouldn't venture to say if Americans Coming Together would become primarily focused on abortion but said Malcolm's words speak for themselves.

“All I can tell you is about Emily's List,” Bingham said. “The abortion issue is their litmus test.”

Bingham noted that Emily's List was not forgiving to two senators, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, when they voted to ban partial-birth abortions.

“Ellen Malcolm wrote in their newsletter that they would never support them again,” Bingham said.

She said Emily's List cares most about abortion, but it will find out what issue will drive pro-abortion voters to the polls.

“They [identified] ‘pro-choice’ voters and then they found out what got them to vote,” said Bingham, who applied the same tactics to the work of the Susan B. Anthony List.

“You need to talk to voters about what they care about,” Bingham said. “People who don't vote, we don't bother with. We target pro-life women who are inconsistent voters.”

And the Susan B. Anthony List has produced results. Twenty-two of its 32 endorsed candidates won, and it increased the number of pro-life women in Congress from seven to 12.

“We know if we get more pro-life women to vote, there will be more pro-life candidates elected to Congress,” Bingham said.

One consolation to Bush supporters is that the Soros contribution will be dwarfed by the prowess of the president's campaign war chest.

Bush is expected to raise $200 million before his nomination in early September 2004. He will then have an additional $74 million in federal matching funds in the general election for the last months of the campaign.

Ultimately, political observers believe the election will likely not come down to money spent.

“Even accounting for Soros’ millions, Bush will outspend the Democratic nominee overall,” said Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia. “Both sides will have enough money to get across their messages. Money won't decide the race. The usual factors of the economy, war and peace, and scandal will.”

“All the money in the world for the Democrats won't make a difference if the economy picks up and Iraq settles down,” he said. “Bush will be re-elected easily under those conditions. Conversely, Bush will lose under the opposite conditions.”

Joshua Mercer writes from Washington, D.C.