Alexander Soros, Electric Cars, and the Inflation Reduction Act: What to Expect from George Soros’s Heir
The world of left-wing philanthropy experienced a sea change earlier this month as the infamous billionaire and political-donor-extraordinaire George Soros announced he would be passing control of his empire to one of his sons, Alexander Soros.
The announcement was not unexpected. Alexander, who also goes by Alex, has long been the heir apparent to the sprawling Open Societies network and has been involved as deputy chair of the foundation since as early as 2015. George also named Alex heir to the $125 million Democracy PAC II, Soros’s personal political action committee (PAC), and Soros Fund Management, the $25 billion family investment fund where Alex is now the only Soros family member on the investment committee.
Since the announcement, commentators on both the left and right have been scrambling to figure out what this will mean for the Soros family’s extensive influence network. Alex himself has told reporters that he is “more political” than his father and that he shares in most of his father’s political beliefs and strategies, but what that will mean in practice is unclear.
Luckily, there isn’t really any need for speculation.
A Promotion in Name Only
Although Alex’s promotion was made official this month, it’s clear that Alex has been the family’s de facto leader for a while. George is nearly 93 years old, after all, and while he has signed his name to op-eds and given a few scattered quotes to the media, his public presence has diminished greatly over the past few years.
Alex, meanwhile, has been trekking the globe and publicly rubbing elbows with some of the world’s most powerful people. Photos posted to his Twitter account in just the past three years show him meeting one-on-one with the heads of state of Albania, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, France, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, The European Union, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ukraine, and Zambia to name a few, and those are just the ones with photos.
Closer to home, Alex has also been photographed meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), President Joe Biden (whose 2024 campaign he immediately endorsed), former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ambassador Cindy McCain, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D), Sen. Ralph Warnock (D-GA), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, President Barrack Obama, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).
On top of all that, White House visitor logs show that Alex has visited the Biden Whitehouse at least 17 times with senior Open Society staffers, and reports say Alex has also made time to speak at the Tokyo G7 Summit, multiple World Economic Forum meetings, several meetings of the Munich Security Conference, the Paris Peace Forum, and several other convenings of notable global leaders.
It’s quite the schedule for a guy who’s not in charge.
Meanwhile George, who has been on the wrong side of 90 since 2020, has made just a few public appearances, and most of them with Alex glued to his side. It’s not clear when the transition really happened, but Alex has clearly been running the show for a while.
Alex’s First Test
The Soros network has already completed its maiden voyage under its new captain. The results were a mixed bag, to say the least.
For a long time, the Soros family’s trademark has been using political influence and insider knowledge to make money. George famously once made $1 billion in a single day by shorting the British pound in international currency markets because he rightly deduced that the British government would not be willing to endure the economic and political costs necessary to save the pound’s fixed international exchange rates. Alex, as the sole family member on Soros Fund Management’s investment committee, is less savvy or fortunate.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, Soros Fund Management bought a 2 percent stake in Rivian, a start-up electric vehicle company, for just over $2 billion, making Rivian the largest investment in the fund’s portfolio and possibly one of its biggest investments ever.
The fund bought 19.8 million shares of Rivian at roughly $100 per share. Less than two years later, Rivian is selling for around $13 per share, and Soros Fund Management has sold over 10 million shares at a very steep loss. It’s unclear exactly how much the fund has lost, but the total is almost certainly over $1 billion in less than two years.
The Soros name, once uttered in the same breath as Warren Buffet, is now stamped on one of the worst performing funds on the market. What happened to that old Soros family magic?
Deploying the Political Parachute
The Rivian investment ultimately failed, but not because the Soros network abandoned it. In fact, the Soros network, under Alex’s apparent leadership, made several attempts to tip the scales in favor of the floundering company.
Political Giving in Georgia. In December 2021, around the time Soros Fund Management purchased its stake in Rivian, Rivian announced that it would be building a gargantuan $5 billion mega-factory in Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. By May 2022, the company had been promised a $1.5 billion incentive package by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, but the factory wasn’t built yet, and critics, like David Perdue, were already opposing the subsidy (which was later dubbed the worst economic development deal of 2022). The Rivian mega-factory is still very much a work in progress.
Stacey Abrams, meanwhile, was fully on board with Rivian’s proposed factory and expressed her support on day one, crediting her friends in Atlanta’s labor unions with enticing Rivian to come to Georgia. Just months later, Democracy PAC II dumped $3.5 million into Stacey Abrams’s One Georgia PAC and $500,000 into the Georgia-based Black Voters Matter Action PAC, making Georgia the PAC’s largest single-state spending target by far. Abrams ultimately did not win, but interestingly, she moved on to become senior counsel of Rewiring America, a group that advocates for all passenger vehicles being electric by 2050.
Meanwhile, the Open Societies philanthropic network was putting its Georgia funding operations into overdrive. Because the IRS does not require nonprofit organizations to disclose their grantmaking activities to the public for two years, the Open Societies Network’s 2022 grants are still unknown. In 2021, however, the Open Societies network generously supported a wide-range of Georgia-based activism and organizing groups.
For example, the Open Society Policy Center gave $2 million to Fair Fight Action, a “dark money” group originally founded by Stacey Abrams in 2014. The Foundation to Promote Open Society, meanwhile, gave $5 million to Southerners on New Ground and $10.2 million to the Black Voter Matter Capacity Building Institute, both of which are Atlanta-based activism groups that work to organize progressive voters in Georgia. The foundation also gave $1 million to the Fund for Southern Communities to finance a campaign to close the Atlanta City Detention Center; $600,000 to Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs for Women on the Rise, a project to advocate for policing reforms in Atlanta; and $150,000 to Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Atlanta chapter.
In all, over $20 million from the Soros nonprofit network flowed to mobilize Georgia’s progressive voters as Rivian’s share prices tumbled. Presumably, even more money followed in 2022.
The Inflation Reduction Act. Stacey Abrams ultimately lost her election to Brian Kemp in 2022, but that wasn’t the only way the Alex-led Soros network apparently tried to help its floundering investment. Tom Perriello, former executive director of Open Societies Foundations’ U.S. programs, spent much of his time at OSF working behind the scenes to help pass the Biden Administration pass Inflation Reduction Act.
According to Politico, a defining feature of Perriello’s tenure at OSF was building “a modern environmental advocacy community” and working closely with the White House under the Biden Administration to support the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, “a historic environmental policy achievement.” Perriello was so involved with promoting the Inflation Reduction Act that he was present on the House floor when the bill finally passed through the House of Representatives. While the Inflation Reduction Act was being drafted and pushed Perriello also racked up 17 visits (the same number as Alex) to the White House, including an invite to the “inflation reduction party” on the White House South Lawn to commemorate the signing of the bill.
Under Perriello, the Open Societies network also resumed lobbying for the first time since 2020. Federal Lobbying disclosures show that the Open Society Policy Center spent $1.6 million on lobbying related to the Inflation Reduction Act in the first quarter of 2023.
When the omnibus Inflation Reduction Act (which actually exacerbated inflation) was finally passed, it featured a Christmas list of taxpayer gifts to the electric vehicle industry. Perks included:
- Tax credits of up to $7,500 for new electric vehicles (EVs),
- Tax credits of up to $4,000 for used EVs,
- A new tax credit for commercial, nonprofit, and government purchased EVs,
- Removing the per-manufacturer cap on applicable EV tax credits,
- Extending tax credit programs for residential EV charging equipment up to $1,000 through 2032, and
- Allocating $3 billion for electrifying the U.S. Postal Service vehicle fleet. (Rivian produces one of America’s only electric delivery vans.)
Amazing how that works out, right?
After the dust settled and the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, there simply wasn’t enough in the bill to save Rivian’s share price. Production setbacks and supply chains issues meant that the fledgling company just couldn’t produce enough cars to be profitable. Ultimately, Soros Fund Management took the 10-figure loss and sold most of its Rivian shares. On the nonprofit side of things, the Open Societies network parted ways with Tom Perriello, and as if to prove who was really in charge, Alex, not George, gave a statement on the change to the press.
Alex has already undergone his first great test of leadership. It did not go perfectly. On one hand, the Open Societies Network helped pass one of the biggest omnibus spending bills in American history, sending billions toward the Left’s favorite causes. On the other hand, the Soros treasury suffered a humiliating $1 billion loss on one failed stock pick in less than a year, despite extensive political maneuverings seemingly meant to help stop the bleeding.
Overall, Alex’s first apparent campaign as the acting, but not official, head of the Soros family was underwhelming. A single, maybe even a double, but definitely not a home run, especially not for a political and philanthropic empire whose sole funder is retiring. If the current trend continues, George Soros’s $25 billion empire may not outlive Alex.