Big bucks from George Soros helped turn a Pennsylvania district attorney election on its head, in the latest example of the liberal billionaire’s influence in local U.S. politics.
On April 28, Soros poured nearly $1.5 million into the Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety PAC, which supported candidate Larry Krasner in the Democratic primary. Krasner won on Tuesday, and by a wide margin.
He is expected to win the general election this fall, as Philadelphia is a Democratic stronghold. How much of a difference the PAC money made is unclear, but the cash infusion helped pay for TV commercials, campaign literature, and online ads to promote the candidacy of the civil rights attorney who has never worked as a prosecutor.
The race marked the first time a super PAC has supported a D.A. candidate in Philadelphia.
Krasner, as the Daily Caller puts it, benefited from “the kind of capital typically reserved for important national political campaigns.”
But it’s not the first time Soros has pumped cash into local D.A. races, in an apparent bid to shape the approach to law enforcement on the ground level.
Last August, Politico reported that Soros had channeled more than $3 million into seven local district-attorney campaigns in six states over the past year.
The Washington Times looked at all of 2015 and 2016, reporting Soros sunk more than $7 million into at least 11 local prosecutor races in 10 states in that period. The report described it as part of “an effort to implement criminal justice reform from the inside.”
One race Soros supported in Texas already has led to a policy change. Kim Ogg, who won the election for district attorney of Harris County last fall, after a cash influx from Soros, announced she will decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in the Houston area.
That goes against President Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has taken a tough stance on marijuana and has said he is not in favor legalizing the drug.
Fox News reached out to Soros for comment regarding the latest election. The Philadelphia PAC’s treasurer Whitney Tymas replied to Fox News and cited Krasner’s platform as the reason for supporting him.
“Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety supported Larry Krasner for district attorney because of his commitment to public safety and criminal justice reform,” Tymas said.
After his victory, Krasner spoke to reporters and said the Soros cash wouldn’t affect his policies. “I don’t have to pick up the phone for anyone,” Krasner told reporters. “It’s no disrespect to Mr. Soros, whom I have never met, or his organization, but the bottom line is I have held these views for a long time.”
Ben Waxman, a spokesman for Krasner’s campaign, told Fox News, “Larry Krasner has been a civil rights attorney in Philadelphia for over 30 years. He has handled many cases and has a deep amount of criminal justice experience. In addition, he is an activist. He has been doing and saying the same thing for 30 years.”
He added, “Other candidates spent a large amount of money in this campaign. The reason Krasner won is because of his ideas on criminal justice reform.”
When asked if Krasner appreciated the support offered by Soros and the Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety PAC, Waxman said the campaign had a strong coalition of voters.
“He is thankful to all of his supporters,” he said, “this deep Philly-based coalition including his volunteers and his staff.”