Explaining the Ties Between Alvin Bragg and George Soros

WASHINGTON — As a potential indictment looms over former President Donald J. Trump, he and his allies have sought to tie the Manhattan district attorney bringing the case to a familiar Republican specter: George Soros, the financier and Democratic megadonor.

Mr. Soros, who has backed Democratic candidates and causes as well as democracy and human rights around the world, has for years been a boogeyman on the right, confronting attacks that portray him as a “globalist” mastermind and that often veer into antisemitic tropes.

The connections between him and Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, are real but overstated. In reality, Mr. Soros donated to a liberal group that endorses progressive prosecutors and supports efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system — in line with causes that he has publicly supported for years. That group used a significant portion of the money to support Mr. Bragg in his 2021 campaign.

A spokesman for Mr. Soros said that the two men had never met, nor had Mr. Soros given money directly to Mr. Bragg’s campaign.

Here’s a fact check.

What Was Said

“Alvin Bragg received in EXCESS OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS from the Radical Left Enemy of ‘TRUMP,’ George Soros.”
— Mr. Trump, in a Truth Social post on Monday

The Looming Indictment of Donald Trump

“Alvin Bragg is bought by George Soros. He allows violent criminals to walk the streets of New York City, but will prosecute the likely Republican nominee (and former president) on a baseless misdemeanor charge. These people are trying to turn America into a third-world country.”
— Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio, in a Twitter post on Saturday

“Alvin Bragg is bought and paid for by George Soros and has repeatedly showed his hatred for President Trump based on purely political motives."
— Representative Anna Paulina Luna, Republican of Florida, in a Twitter post on Saturday

These claims are exaggerated.

While the link between Mr. Bragg and Mr. Soros exists, arguments that the district attorney was “bought” by the philanthropist are misleading.

Mr. Bragg announced his candidacy for the position in June 2019. Nearly two years later, on May 8, 2021, the political arm of Color of Change, a progressive criminal justice group, endorsed him. It pledged to spend $1 million on direct mailers, on-the-ground campaigning and voter turnout efforts on his behalf. (It did not donate to Mr. Bragg’s campaign directly.) A few days later, on May 14, Mr. Soros contributed $1 million to the group, which intended to help Mr. Bragg with the money.

Color of Change did not meet its pledge. It eventually spent nearly $500,000 in support of Mr. Bragg. That amounted to about 11 percent of the group’s $4.6 million in total spending during the 2021-22 election cycle, according to the campaign finance website Open Secrets.

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A spokeswoman for the political arm of Color of Change said that the group reviewed and interviewed reform-minded district attorney candidates each election cycle, and that the process was independent of funders. Mr. Soros was just one of many large donors to the group. Past donors included members of the wealthy Pritzker family, the Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and the hip-hop group the Beastie Boys.

Mr. Bragg was not the only candidate Color of Change endorsed and aided through organizing efforts in 2021. The group also helped re-elect Larry Krasner, the district attorney of Philadelphia, by contacting more than 300,000 voters and sending nearly 200,000 pieces of direct mail on his behalf. In addition, it operated phone banks, ran advertisements and mobilized voters to support a local candidate in Virginia and a ballot initiative in Minneapolis.

Nor was Mr. Soros’s $1 million contribution particularly unusual. Mr. Soros gave to the group multiple times before it endorsed Mr. Bragg; he personally donated $450,000 between 2016 and 2018, and his political action committee, Democracy PAC, gave $2.5 million in 2020.

Neither Mr. Soros nor Democracy PAC contributed directly to Mr. Bragg’s campaign, according to Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Mr. Soros.

“George Soros and Alvin Bragg have never met in person or spoken by telephone, email, Zoom, etc.,” Mr. Vachon said. “There has been no contact between the two.”

Mr. Vachon also noted that Mr. Soros had been open about his yearslong support of progressive prosecutors. In a 2022 op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Soros explained his thoughts on overhauling the criminal justice system and wrote that “the idea we need to choose between justice and safety is false.”

“I have supported the election (and more recently the re-election) of prosecutors who support reform,” he wrote. “I have done it transparently, and I have no intention of stopping.”

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