On April 4, former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. His arraignment, held in New York City, came about a week after he was indicted by a grand jury. The investigation was led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Trump returned to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and gave a speech about the charges against him, saying the charges and investigation is a plot to keep him from being president again.
“Our elections were like those of a third-world country. And now this massive election interference at a scale never seen before in our country beginning with the radical left George Soros-backed prosecutor Alvin Bragg of New York,” Trump told the crowd.
George Soros is a billionaire financier who has a history of donating to liberal candidates and political action committees, or PACs. Trump and his allies have repeated claims “Soros-backed” Bragg has intentionally been targeting the former president. VERIFY received several viewer questions from TikTok and email about the connection between Soros and Bragg.
Did George Soros financially support the campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg?
- OpenSecrets, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that tracks data on campaign finance and lobbying
- Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change and spokesperson for Color Of Change PAC
- Michael Vachon, an advisor, spokesperson and chief of staff for George Soros
Claims George Soros financially supported the campaign of Alvin Bragg need context.
Soros donated to a PAC called Color of Change, a criminal justice political action committee. Color of Change endorsed Bragg and pledged $1 million to organize voter turnout and campaign outreach programs for Bragg’s campaign. However, Soros did not donate directly to Bragg’s campaign, which he has done for several other politicians.
WHAT WE FOUND
George Soros does often directly support other candidates. For example, he donated more than $1 million to Beto O’Rourke in his run for Texas governor. But, in a review of Soros’ contributions across the U.S. since November 2016, VERIFY found no record he directly donated to Alvin Bragg.
Soros did donate to at least one political action committee that endorsed Bragg.
PACs, short for political action committees, are organizations that can receive unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions and other PACs for the purpose of supporting political candidates or organizations that have like-minded goals. PACs are a common way for wealthy donors, such as Soros as well as others like Koch Industries, Peter Theil, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, to donate to causes and candidates.
Soros has been donating to different PACs that support Democratic candidates and causes for decades. He donates individually or through organizations and PACs he funds. For example, his nonprofit organization Open Society Policy Center in 2021 donated $200 million to different organizations, ballot initiatives or like-minded charities, CNBC reported. Soros personally donated $170 million to Democratic candidates and campaigns during the 2022 midterms.
One PAC Soros has donated to repeatedly is the Color of Change PAC. From 2016 through 2022, Soros personally and through the Democracy PAC – a PAC created by Soros – donated roughly $4 million to Color of Change, Michael Vachon, an advisor, spokesperson and chief of staff for George Soros, told VERIFY.
Here is how Color of Change is connected to Bragg: Color of Change endorsed Bragg in his campaign for Manhattan district attorney in May 2021. Days after that endorsement, Soros donated to Color of Change.
Here is a timeline of events:
- June 17, 2019: Bragg announced he was running for district attorney
- May 8, 2021: Color Of Change PAC endorses Bragg and pledged to spend $1 million to support Bragg’s campaign through mailers and on-the-ground campaigning, the endorsement said.
- May 14, 2021: Soros made a $1 million contribution to Color of Change, according to data from OpenSecrets.
Michael Vachon, an advisor, spokesperson and chief of staff for George Soros, confirmed to VERIFY that Soros did make that $1 million donation – but said the donation was not earmarked for Bragg’s campaign. Color of Change could use that funding in any way they saw fit.
The New York Times reported Color of Change ended up spending about half of the $1 million it pledged toward supporting Bragg's campaign.
Vachon told VERIFY that Soros has never contributed funds to Bragg’s campaign for Manhattan district attorney. Soros has “never met, spoken with, or otherwise communicated with Alvin Bragg,” he said.
VERIFY could not independently confirm how Soros’ donation was used by Color of Change. In an email to VERIFY, Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change and spokesperson for Color Of Change PAC told VERIFY they don’t base their endorsement decisions on what their funders want.
Independent of their funders, Color of Change runs a review and interview process to endorse “reform minded district attorneys each election cycle,” Robinson told VERIFY.