The Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation: California Dreamin’ of Social Democracy
By Jonathan Hanen, Foundation Watch, July 2014 (PDF here)
Summary: Stephen M. Silberstein, a member of George Soros’s far-left Democracy Alliance, sheds light on the extent of Soros’s socialist agenda for America. Silberstein’s foundation backs a panoply of leftist groups that fight for higher taxes on the rich, wealth redistribution schemes, single-payer socialized medicine, burdensome regulation of energy markets, judicial activism designed to advance a radically egalitarian agenda, and the replacement of the linchpin of federalism, the Electoral College, with a national popular vote.
George Soros’s secretive donor consortium, the Democracy Alliance, has been making news lately in the wake of a new plan set forth at its four-day conference entitled “A New Progressive Era?” which took place in Chicago at the end of April 2014. According to the Washington Post, “The plan, being crafted in private by a group of about 100 donors that includes billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros and San Francisco venture capitalist Rob McKay, seeks to give Democrats a stronger hand in the redrawing of district lines for state legislatures and the U.S. House.” More specifically, the newspaper reports that “keeping Democratic control of the Senate” was of paramount concern to the donors. “There’s a lot of anxiety about the midterms,” admitted McKay, the outgoing chairman, “who said substantial investment this year will go to local and state minimum-wage campaigns that can help drive turnout for federal races.” The new plan would shift significant resources away from the Alliance’s typical focus on donating to left-wing media outlets and think tanks, such as Media Matters for America and the John Podesta-founded Center for American Progress. Assuming the reported shift occurs, the Alliance will try to engage in ground-level political campaigning by in effect acting as a bundling super PAC—an über super PAC—in order to prevent the expected GOP takeover of the Senate.
Over time it has leaked out that more than 100 billionaires and multi-millionaires belong to this shadowy philanthropic collective that Markos Moulitsas, founder of the influential leftist blog Daily Kos, has called “a vast left-wing conspiracy.” Membership in Democracy Alliance comes by invitation only and requires donating a minimum of $200,000 per year to left-wing activist groups and think tanks endorsed by the Alliance. In addition to Soros and McKay, the Washington Post reports that hedge fund manager Tom Steyer of San Francisco (who is most famous in conservative circles for his self-interested opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline) and the trial lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn from Houston are relatively new members (for more on Steyer, see Green Watch, January 2014). Other notable figures from the world of business have recently joined the ranks of this elite group: Adam Abram (insurance and real estate), Rick Segal (financial services), Paul Boskind (mental health services), Amy Goldman (real estate), and Henry van Ameringen (manufacturing). New School Professor Philip Munger, son of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charles Munger, also became a member.
There has been a sizeable influx of labor leaders into Democracy Alliance. This may help to explain the group’s strategic shift to make the minimum wage an issue in the 2014 mid-terms. Of course union contracts often have automatic salary increases triggered by increases in the minimum wage. New Alliance members include Noel Beasley, president of Workers United, a textile union affiliated with SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and Keith Mestrich, president of the union-owned Amalgamated Bank. Other new members are Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA); Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; CWA senior director George Kohl; and Michelle Ringuette, Weingarten’s assistant. Other individuals previously reported as members with ties to organized labor include former SEIU executive Anna Burger and National Education Association executive director John C. Stocks. SEIU President Mary Kay Henry is vice chair of the Alliance’s board of directors. SEIU and the AFL-CIO are institutional members of the Alliance. (Around press time, the Alliance’s website was updated to reflect that Stocks of the NEA has been named chairman of the group’s board.)