Billionaire financier George Soros and other liberal donors are pouring money into California district attorney races with an aim to reshape the criminal justice system. [LA Times]
Soros and fellow donors would like to reduce incarceration, crack down on police misconduct and revamp the bail system. They claim the bail system unfairly imprisons poor people before trial.
In the current primary election campaign, Soros and other liberal donors, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and social justice groups, are targeting district attorney races in four California counties — San Diego, Sacramento, Alameda and Contra Costa. They are supporting challengers in three of the four races, a couple of whom are taking on entrenched incumbents.
With backing from Soros and other major donors, the challengers have matched or surpassed the millions of dollars the incumbent DAs have raised — mostly from police, prosecutors and local businesses.
Stanford law professor David Sklansky, a former federal prosecutor, said the infusion of cash into district attorney races changes the nature of the campaigns. In previous years, district attorney races had tended to focus on character issues, as opposed to policies, Sklansky said.
Many of the donors and groups funding liberal district attorney candidates are the same individuals and organizations that backed California’s Proposition 47 in 2014. Prop. 47 reduced drug crimes and most theft convictions from felonies to misdemeanors, irking many law enforcement officials across the state.
Some law enforcers are now expressing concern about the efforts of Soros and others to install a new breed of prosecutors in the state.
“These people who want to create their own social policy are not worthy of the office,” former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said. “If they win in San Diego or Sacramento, LA is next.”
In San Luis Obispo County, a challenger, retired judge Mike Cummins, is also receiving considerable funding to take on incumbent District Attorney Dan Dow. Cummins, like challengers in several SLO County races, received his largest contribution from the family of Andrew Holland, who died in the county jail.
Likewise, in the 24thcongressional district race, controversy has arisen over Soros family money. Congressman Salud Carbajal received a $1,000 donation from Soros’s son, Jonathan Soros.
Challenger Justin Fareed responded with campaign material attacking George Soros, sparking a local dispute over Soros’s past, including the allegation that he collaborated with Nazis in Hungary during the Holocaust.