The billionaire, who had dialed back his giving, has committed more than $25 million to supporting Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates and causes.
PHILADELPHIA — George Soros is back.
The billionaire investor, who scaled back his political giving after a then-unprecedented $27 million spending spree to try to defeat George Bush in 2004, has quietly reemerged as a leading funder of Democratic politics — and as a leading bogeyman of conservatives.
Soros has donated or committed more than $25 million to boost Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates and causes, according to Federal Election Commission records and interviews with his associates and Democratic fundraising operatives. And some of his associates say they expect Soros, who amassed a fortune estimated at $24.9 billion through risky currency trades, to give even more as Election Day nears.
The 85-year-old Hungarian-born New Yorker had planned to attend his first-ever Democratic convention here to watch Clinton, with whom he has a 25-year relationship, accept the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday. But an associate said he decided to cancel the trip this week because Soros, who recently returned to active trading, felt he needed to closely monitor the economic situation in Europe.
Nonetheless, people close to Soros say he seems more politically engaged than he’s been in years, motivated they say by a combination of faith in Clinton and fear of her GOP rival Donald Trump, who Soros has accused of “doing the work of ISIS” by stoking fears.
Soros’s political adviser Michael Vachon said his boss “has been a consistent donor to Democratic causes, but this year the political stakes are exceptionally high.” Vachon added: “They were high even before Trump became the nominee because of the hostility on the other side toward many of the issues George cares most about and has worked to support for many years, including immigration reform, criminal justice reform and religious tolerance.”
The willingness of Soros to turn on the cash spigot full force to beat Trump is seen in Democratic finance circles as a very good sign for Clinton. Perhaps more than any other donor on the left, Soros is seen as having the potential to catalyze giving by others rich activists.
To be sure, other elite liberal donors are also stroking big checks, including San Francisco environmentalist Tom Steyer (who has donated $31 million in 2016, albeit almost entirely to a super PAC he controls), New York hedge funder Don Sussman ($13.2 million to various campaigns and committees) and media moguls Haim Saban and Fred Eychaner ($11.1 million each). But few have the bellwether effect of Soros.
The cumulative effect of the mobilization of the left’s richest benefactors has helped Clinton’s campaign and its allied outside groups mount a massive financial advantage over committees backing Trump, who is regarded with suspicion at best by the GOP donor class. That’s allowed Clinton and her allies to build a humming campaign machine that dwarfs Trump’s.
Soros has had a hand in funding many pieces of that.
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Here’s more of what Soros has been up to: