Soros Funnels $860 Million to Left
The Koch Brothers have been accused of providing $100 million to conservative causes. The New York Times reports that the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations are “on track to give away about $860 million” to the “progressives” this year alone. The Times called him the “billionaire investor,” never mentioning his insider trading conviction and history of currency manipulation and speculation.
George Soros, the billionaire investor, on Wednesday named Christopher Stone, a well-known expert on criminal justice, the new leader of his unconventional philanthropic empire.
Christopher Stone is a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
Mr. Stone, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, will fully take the helm in July of the Open Society Foundations, a sprawling constellation of more than 30 organizations that operate in places as diverse as Baltimore, Jakarta, the Kremlin and Congress.
He will succeed Aryeh Neier, who is retiring at 74 after serving as the Open Society’s president since 1993.
“We have a very complex organization,” Mr. Soros said in a telephone interview. “It has become too complicated, and it needs to be streamlined, to become more unified.”
Mr. Soros has never endowed his collection of foundations, but he often gives away enough money in a year to make Open Society the most generous philanthropy in the country after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This year, for example, it is on track to give away about $860 million.
Mr. Soros said the foundation had worked well because he and Mr. Neier “know all its nooks and crannies, but to hand it over to someone else would be very difficult.”
Mr. Stone, however, is what Mr. Soros describes as an “outsider insider.” He has worked as a recipient of Open Society grants, as an adviser to Open Society and as a board member of one of the member groups.
Mr. Soros also noted that Mr. Stone served as the faculty director at the Hauser Center on Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard.
“They study foundations at the center, and so he also will bring a professional understanding of such organizations to the task,” Mr. Soros said.
Mr. Stone has a track record for building organizations and systems. Early in his career, for instance, he helped found the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, a nonprofit organization nationally renowned for combining a wide range of social services with traditional legal services.
“He has a passion for changing things and great vision and an understanding of how to build institutions and reimagine them so they endure,” said Barry C. Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project.
Mr. Stone built National Defender while at the Vera Institute for Justice, a nonprofit group that works to improve justice systems, where he eventually rose to become chief executive for 10 years. He expanded Vera’s international programs, working with national governments in South Africa, Russia and Chile and developing a reputation as an expert on the professionalization of police forces.
“Police chiefs will confide in him, and at the same time, he can convene meetings of people from the grass-roots civil-rights community and command the same kind of respect,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Justice Department and an old friend.
That ability to knit together disparate groups will come in handy at Open Society, where Mr. Soros may elect to support struggling scientists in Russia, as he did after the Soviet Union collapsed, using money he made shorting the British pound. Or he may choose to provide loan guarantees to spur the development of low-income housing in South Africa and money to endow the Central European University, which he founded.
“There’s a spirit of innovation and reform there, which is the essential starting point,” Mr. Stone said. “What I bring to that is a lot of experience with what it takes to make things really stick, to be persistent until the best ideas find their time.”