Sep 27, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(NY TIMES) The billionaire George Soros is committing $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the “super PAC” supporting President Obama, two people with knowledge of the decision said Thursday, a significant donation that could help spur further contributions to the group in the closing weeks of the election.
A longtime political adviser to Mr. Soros, Michael Vachon, made the announcement at a luncheon on Thursday hosted by the Democracy Alliance, a group of liberal donors who have already invested heavily in building grassroots organizations and research institutes. Mr. Soros will also give an additional $500,000 to two super PACs backing congressional Democrats. Other donors at the lunch were expected to commit between at least $10 million more to Democratic super PACs, suggesting that many — like Mr. Soros — had overcome their aversion to the purely advertising-oriented super PACs.
The luncheon, which was headlined by former President Bill Clinton, suggested a rapprochement of sorts between progressive donors who have traditionally favored movement-building and Democratic strategists who badly want large checks to finance the party’s emerging super PAC apparatus, which only in recent months have begun to draw significant financial support, much of it from traditional party sources like Hollywood, trial lawyers, and unions.
Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, also attended the event, each speaking briefly about why it was important for Democrats to win the House and keep control of the Senate. Mr. Clinton was introduced by Harold M. Ickes, his former White House aide. The donors and officials gathered at the Park Avenue apartment of Donald and Shelley Rubin, New York philanthropists and entrepreneurs who gave $1 million to Priorities USA earlier this month.
Mr. Soros had previously given $1 million to American Bridge, a group that provides research, video, and other services for its partner super PACs, and made a low-six figure contributions to House Majority PAC, a group supporting House Democrats. But Mr. Soros had earlier suggested he was unlikely to give to Priorities USA Action.
Mr. Soros’ overall giving remains far below the scale of his political spending in 2004, when he and fellow billionaire Peter B. Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance, together donated more than $40 million to Democratic-leaning independent groups. But his participation in the group supporting Mr. Obama could spur other donors to follow suit.
Mr. Soros did not attend in person because the luncheon was held at the same time as a board meeting for the Open Society Foundations, which he founded.
But in an e-mail to other invitees, Mr. Soros sought to dispel rumors that he was unhappy with Mr. Obama and explain his decision to contribute to Priorities USA.
“I fully support the re-election of President Obama,” Mr. Soros said in the email. He had not contributed until now, he wrote, because he opposed the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, which paved the way for super PACs and unlimited money in politics. But since then, Mr. Soros wrote, he had become “appalled by the Romney campaign which is openly soliciting the money of the rich to starve the state of the money it needs to provide social services.”