Friday, January 26, 2007

A Soros spot for the Obama campaign

Almost lost amidst the madrassa, or I should say, the debunked madrassa story, is some news on the fundraising front on the Democratic side of the 2008 presidential election.

Running for president is increasingly expensive. For a serious campaign, it's accepted as fact that $100 million will need to be raised--and that's per candidate. That comes out to $274,000 per day.

If you're a Democrat, one reliable source of funds is Hollywood. It's worked for both Clintons.

But as AP reports, Sen. Barack Obama is now tapping into that wellspring of cash, including individuals such as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen of the Dreamworks movie studio. All three men are past supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The Dremworks trio is hosting a $2,300-a-head fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton Hotel next month. But that event is for the cheapskates. After the Hilton event, those who've pledged to raise $46,000 for Obama get invited to a private dinner at David Geffen's home.

(For those trivia buffs out there, you'll want to know that $46,000 is more than the estimated net-worth of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who is also running for president.)

Hollywood hasn't completely given up on Hillary, Elizabeth Taylor yesterday announced her support for Hillary.

That brings us to a New York Times story on George Soros:

George Soros, the billionaire New York philanthropist, has made maximum donations in the past to both candidates, for instance, and last week he faced a choice: support Mr. Obama, who created his committee on Tuesday, or stay neutral and see what Mrs. Clinton and others had to say. In this case, Mr. Obama won.

Mr. Soros sent the maximum contribution, $2,100, to Mr. Obama, the first-term senator from Illinois, just hours after he declared his plans to run.

"Soros believes that Senator Obama brings a new energy to the political system and has the potential to be a transformational leader," said Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Mr. Soros.

But with Soros, a billionaire currency speculator, his $2,100 check to Obama is probably just the beginning of his involvement in Election 200--and perhaps the Obama campaign.

In the last presidential campaign, Soros in his quest to see George W. Bush defeated, donated heavily to left-wing political groups. He gave $3 million to the Center for American Progress, $5 million to MoveOn, and $10 million to American Coming Together.

Soros brings a lot of money to the Democrats, but he also brings a lot of baggage.

In 2002, the billionaire was found guilty of insider trading in France.

In 2003, Soros blamed the policies of Israel and the United States for the rise in anti-semitism.

Soros holds many controversial views.

From Peter Schweizer's 2005 book, Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy:

This reformed capitalist wants to fight capitalism, reverse globalism, and soak the rich with steep income and inheritance taxes. He also wants to legalize drugs, promotes unfettered immigration, and advocates euthanasia and assisted suicide. Among his other causes are abortion rights, atheism, sex education, gun control, and gay marriage.

Soros' Quantum Fund deserves a close look, although it's difficult to do just that. Although Quantum's offices are in New York, it's incorporated in the Netherland Antilles, which allows Quantum to avoid US taxes and SEC oversight.

More from Schweizer's book:

His ultrasecret, unregulated fund avoids not only the SEC but also public scrutiny. No one knows who his investors are, though many believe they include some of the wealthiest people in the world, including Saudi princess, royal families in Europe, and the superwealthy in Latin America. Even employees at Soros Fund Management in New York do not know the names of many of the people they are making money for. They are simply given coded Swiss bank accounts.

Yes, there are other offshore currency funds. But if Soros didn't invent the practice, he certainly perfected it.

Unfortunately, Soros' shady reputation gets little play in the mainstream media--they support many of causes the billionaire backs.

There's something in Obama that Soros likes. It could simply be that he believes the Illinois senator has the best chance to win in 2008.

But don't look for Soros' cash to be an issue in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, since the other Democratic candidates still hope to bathe themselves in the billionaire's bundle.

However, if Obama is the Demoratic nominee next year, it's a safe bet that his Republican counterpart will make the name of George Soros a familar one among voters.

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