Left-wing billionaire and Democrat donor George Soros has turned his attention in recent years to local races for prosecutor, using his money to elect "progressives" who push "criminal justice reform" and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
The rise of these Soros-backed prosecutors has coincided with a massive surge in murder and crime in many Democrat-run cities, including many where these prosecutors have implemented radical policies toward policing and incarceration.
Most recently, for example, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón has faced criticism for his radical reforms in the year since he took office, while murders soared. "The city last year experienced 397 murders, up 11.8 percent from the 355 the previous year, and a 53.9 percent increase from the 258 in the pre-pandemic year of 2019," Los Angeles magazine noted.
These murders included the shooting death of Jacqueline Avant, a black philanthropist and the wife of legendary music producer Clarence Avant, who was killed during a robbery in her home. Gascón blamed the "system" for her death.
More recently, a young woman, Brianna Kupfer, was stabbed to death in broad daylight in the furniture store where she worked. Her alleged killer was out on bail for a 2020 arrest in Los Angeles and a 2019 arrest in South Carolina. Her father blamed politicians who had let criminals roam free - a growing sentiment in cities where Soros-backed prosecutors rule.
Many of the candidates Soros has backed have received support, directly or indirectly, from a network of groups with names like "Justice & Public Safety PAC." The Influence Watch website describes Soros's organizations as the "‘Safety and Justice' network, a project of left-leaning billionaire George Soros that used a network of similarly named state-level PACs to finance the campaigns of progressive Democratic candidates for district attorney in more than a dozen of America's cities."
Soros-backed prosecutors include:
Supported by Soros through spending by political action committees (PACs) and super PACs:
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón - Elected in 2020, he ousted incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey, the first black woman to hold the job, and has prided himself on reducing prison sentences, even as violent crime has soared in L.A.
(Chicago) Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx - Foxx became notorious for her intervention in the Jussie Smollett case, dropping charges against the actor for a hate crime hoax. (Smollett was later convicted.) Chicago hit 800 homicides in 2021.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner - Soros supported Krasner with nearly $1.7 million in spending in 2017, more than five times as much as Kranser spent himself. Philadelphia set a new record for homicides in 2021, with 562 in total.
(Houston) Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg - Ogg is considered one of the more moderate of Soros's prosecutors, and had to overcome opposition from even more left-wing prosecutors in 2020. Houston's homicide rate rose 71% in 2021.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot - Cruezot dropped prosecutions for thefts of "personal items" valued at less than $750, among other radical reforms, and was reduced to reminding residents that theft was still against the law.
(San Antonio) Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales - Gonzales has been described as "one of Soros's favorite DAs," presiding over a stunning 52% increase in homicides in San Antonio since 2019, though violent crime was down overall.
Phoenix District Attorney Paul Penzone - Soros spent millions to defeat Joe Arpaio and support Penzone, who gained national attention in 2020 when he resisted efforts by Republicans to audit the ballots in the controversial 2020 election.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner - Gardner has faced ethical complaints over the prosecution of former Governor Eric Greitens, as well as that of Mark and Patricia McCloskey. She was kicked off the latter prosecution after using it to fundraise.
(East San Francisco Bay Area) Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton - Becton famously charged a couple with a "hate crime" for painting over a "Black Lives Matter" mural that was painted on a public road in Martinez, California.
Supported by Soros indirectly:
(New York) Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg - Bragg was elected with help from the Color of Change PAC, to which Soros donated $1 million. He has banned pre-trial incarceration and prison for all but homicide and a few other cases.
Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby - Mosby, one of the original "Black Lives Matter" prosecutors, reportedly took a trip abroad sponsored by a Soros-backed group. She was recently indicted on federal charges of mortgage fraud and perjury.
(Orlando) Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Monque Worrell - Worrell succeeded Soros-backed Aramis Ayala, whom Gov. Ron DeSantis kicked off a murder case for declining to seek charges in a murder because she opposed the death penalty.
A further list of Soros-backed prosecutors, current through 2019, is available through Influence Watch. These include prosecutors such as Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Buta Biberaj - Biberaj came under scrutiny after a parent was arrested for speaking out at a school board meeting against district policies after his daughter was sexually assaulted. Another list is available through the Capital Research Center, including descriptions of Soros-backed prosecutors' records.
Not every left-wing prosecutor is directly backed by Soros. San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was not backed by Soros - but he received $100,000 from a PAC controlled by Soros-backed George Gascón to fight a recall election effort.
In 2018, the Los Angeles Timesreported that Soros had funded at least 21 local prosecutorial campaigns, though it noted that the full extent of his influence on such races was unknown, because some of his contributions flowed to non-profit organizations and "dark money" groups rather than directly to campaigns. He has continued and expanded his role since.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Correction: an earlier version of this article identified Paul Penzone as D.A. of Maricopa County; he is D.A. of Phoenix.