Someone needs to check the fact-checkers, and we’re happy to do it.
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler recently decreed that those who claim billionaire George Soros has “funded” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg were lying. He awarded them three out of four “Pinocchios,” which, under his rating system, means “technically correct … [but] so taken out of context as to be very misleading.”
But it is Mr. Kessler who is being very misleading. He admits that Mr. Bragg is Soros-backed, then simply says that while this is “technically correct … it’s still misleading.” He fails to explain how that’s so, though.
To reach this conclusion, Mr. Kessler conveniently ignores Mr. Soros’ own Wall Street Journal op-ed from last July explaining why he financially supports prosecutors like Mr. Bragg. The column also claimed (falsely, in our opinion) that Mr. Soros’ funding of their campaigns is done with complete transparency.
>>> Inside the Minds of Trump’s Lawyers—How the Defense Will Unfold
As we have previously explained, Mr. Soros’ contributions can be difficult to trace because they are often funneled through national and state-level PACs, “527” groups, allied organizations, nonprofits, and a host of other entities.
Mr. Kessler correctly notes that on May 8, 2021, the political arm of Color of Change, a progressive prosecutor front group, endorsed Mr. Bragg for New York County district attorney, and a week later, Mr. Soros gave Color of Change $1 million, who then used part of that money to support Mr. Bragg’s election.
Unironically, Mr. Kessler says that although there “appears [to be] careful coordination” between Mr. Soros and Color of Change, Color of Change assured him that this isn’t so and that it makes its own decisions about whom to endorse. This is fact-checking?
We have spent the last three years researching and writing about the “progressive prosecutor” movement—how it started, how it’s funded, and how its consequences are devastating our communities.
After a successful Soros-funded (or “backed,” if you prefer Mr. Kessler’s “technically true” term) test run in 2015 to unseat incumbent district attorneys who supported the death penalty, Mr. Soros and other far-left donors poured money into a nationwide effort.
Pouring money into dozens of PACs and other organizations, their goal was to elect prosecutors who would not only oppose the death penalty but also would oppose bail, water down felony charges, target police, refuse to prosecute most misdemeanors and embrace other radical reforms. These funding practices have been anything but transparent.
Mr. Soros has directly contributed over $40 million to campaigns and candidates over the past decade. But he has also contributed hundreds of millions of dollars more to organizations that directly and indirectly support the progressive prosecutor movement.
Local district attorney races had tended to be relatively low-visibility and low-dollar affairs. That changed in 2015 when Mr. Soros began pouring seven-plus-figure sums into those contests.
>>> Biden’s Homeland Security Department Still Engaging in Censorship
According to New York Times writer Emily Bazelon, the goal was to “change who occupies the prosecutor’s office [in order to] make the system operate differently.” Or, as liberal law professor Rachel Barkow put it, “to reverse engineer and dismantle the criminal justice infrastructure.”
In many of these races, the Soros donations—including those funneled through “independent” PACs—constitute most of the money “raised” by the candidates. In some cases, it has accounted for 70%-80% of their campaign funds.
Why channel such huge amounts of money through a labyrinthian web of entities?
Mr. Soros and others often hide behind complex and opaque funding structures to give them plausible deniability whenever it becomes politically convenient—like now. Or when fed-up voters boot the beneficiaries of this largesse from office—as they’ve done in San Francisco (Chesa Boudin) and Baltimore (Marilyn Mosby).
Had Mr. Kessler even bothered with a Google search, he would have seen that it is not at all misleading to say Mr. Bragg was backed by Soros. It is not only technically true; it is backed by overwhelming evidence.
For this sloppy and, we suspect, deliberately deceptive work, Mr. Kessler deserves four Pinocchios. That’s the rating he reserves for real “whoppers.”
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Times