Monthly Notes

Briefly Noted: February 2015

Radical hedge fund manager George Soros gave a whopping $33 million to troublemaking activist groups that contributed to civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and around the nation after a grand jury there failed to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, the Washington Times reports.

Through grants issued by his Open Society Foundations (OSF), Soros “spurred the Ferguson protest movement through years of funding and mobilizing groups across the U.S., according to interviews with key players and financial records reviewed” by the newspaper. Among the left-wing groups were Sojourners, Advancement Project, Center for Community Change, and the ACORN successor group Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE). “Helping groups combine policy, research [and] data collection with community organizing feels very much the way our society becomes more accountable,” said unrepentant OSF director Kenneth Zimmerman.

Liberal hedge fund manager Tom Steyer “is aggressively exploring a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer and is expected to make a decision within days,” the Los Angeles Times reports as we go to press. Steyer and his group, NextGen Climate, went onto politicians’ radar by becoming the nation’s biggest individual donor in the 2014 election cycle, handing out more than $74 million in congressional and governors’ races to candidates who espouse Steyer’s environmental views.

Steyer-supported candidates won just two U.S. Senate races, a governorship in Pennsylvania, and some state lawmaker posts. Steyer raised critics’ ire by opposing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The critics note that for years Steyer made money from investments in Keystone’s main business competitor. If he runs for Boxer’s Senate seat, he will take on California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Left-wing activists are now trying to bring about social change by harassing people who gather for Sunday brunch. An outgrowth of the protest movement that launched in Ferguson, Mo., these activists have led protesters into upscale eateries in New York City and Oakland, Calif., reading out the names of African-Americans killed by the police. One liberal Big Apple politician, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, a Democrat, said the restaurant occupations were a bridge too far. “I think it’s unacceptable,” he said. “My private time is my private time. And I want to sit down and enjoy.” Adams said he would have confronted demonstrators had they interfered with his brunch.

Conservative political consultant John Pudner, who helped tea party favorite Dave Brat unseat then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) last year, is now running a new group called Take Back Our Republic, which is tasked with building conservative support for greater restrictions on campaign finance contributions. “People said, ‘Oh, you’re in politics — isn’t the whole deal now that people give a million dollars to politicians and get millions back?’” Pudner told the Washington Post. “I said, wow, this isn’t so inside baseball. People are starting to view the government as transactional.” Conservative law professor and former Federal Election Commission member Brad Smith said the prospect of Republicans’ embracing new restrictions on giving is “a reform fantasy.” Many conservatives, “particularly tea party folks and populists, share the general distrust of big money and power,” he said. “But then they begin to see how laws purporting to regulate money in politics work, and they get very wary.”

Matthew Vadum

The author of Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers (WND Books, 2011), Vadum, former senior vice president at CRC, writes and speaks widely…
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