The billionaire financier and hedge fund trader George Soros is a big supporter of the Democratic Party and various liberal causes. He gave millions of dollars in 2016 to support Hillary Clinton’s election for president of the United States. He is one of the party’s biggest behind the scenes movers and shakers, at least financially.
According to Politico, one of the 2016 races Soros donated money to was defeating the sheriff of Maricopa County Arizona, Joe Arpaio, who was running for reelection. That is a lot of money for even a major political donor such as Soros to contribute to a race for county sheriff. It’s also unusual for someone at Soros’s high level of wealth and influence to pay attention to a county-level race. But Sheriff Joe Arpaio has attracted national attention for his stand on undocumented immigration, and, therefore, many immigration activists and liberals wanted him defeated.
The article in Politico appeared prior to the election, but the Democratic Party challenger Paul Penzone did defeat Arpaio.
Actually, defeating Sheriff Arpaio met two important objectives for Soros. Soros is dedicated to reforming laws about immigration on cnbc.com, so Arpaio’s public stance opposing Soros’s position was itself a challenge. Arpaio also was a law enforcement official who stood against Soros’s campaign to reform the criminal justice system.
Michael Vachon, a spokesperson for Soros, confirmed these two reasons to Politico. He said Arpaio had been violating civil rights and abusing his office for over two decades. He was a “stain” on the Arizona criminal justice system. In October federal authorities charged him with contempt of court for failing to stop his discriminatory hiring practices.
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Penzone, backed by Citizens for Professional Law Enforcement, ran against Arpaio in the last election, but lost. This year, Soros funded a Political Action Committee, Maricopa Strong, to challenge Arpaio with. Besides Soros, two other major donations helped Penzone defeat Arpaio on NYBooks.com. John and Laura Arnold are billionaires in Texas. They donated $500,000. Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve’s widow, donated $250,000.
As a national figure in the immigration debate, Arpaio also raised a lot of money. He ran advertising worth an estimated $2.8 million. The Soros spokesperson characterized Arpaio’s influence on the discussion regarding immigration as “poisonous.”
Soros is also working to reform the nation’s criminal justice system. One strategy is to elect district attorneys with similar views. Besides targeting Sheriff Arpaio, Soros donated to the campaigns of three major urban district attorney races. Also in Maricopa County Arizona, one of his PACs donated $1 million to defeat Bill Montgomery, the Republican district attorney for the county seeking reelection. In that race, Montgomery held on to his position.
Soros also spent over $1 million in Harris County Texas, for Houston and over $1.5 million to defeat an incumbent in Denver Colorado. In Houston the Democratic candidate for district attorney won, but the Soros-backed candidate in Denver lost.