Shedding some light on dark money in Yes-on-64 campaign
Sacramento Bee | 10-8-16 | By: Dan Morain In 2016, dark money continues to be the coin of the realm in initiative politics. Only this time, some of the nonprofit money is helping to fund an initiative promoted by good liberals led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to legalize recreational use of marijuana. The Drug Policy Action, a nonprofit with an Oakland address, has given $4.7 million to pass Proposition 64. Nearly $4 million of that came from an entity called Fund for Policy Reform based in Washington, D.C. Billionaire George Soros, it turns out, is the source of that money, though you wouldn’t know it from campaign finance reports.
Recall the stench that emanated from the secretive $11 million that flowed into California politics in the closing days of the 2012 election. Seizing on an issue he knew would resonate with voters, Gov. Jerry Brown declared: “They’re ashamed of themselves. That’s why they conceal their identity.”
Editors Note: We don’t consider George Soros to be a “philanthropist” rather he is political and so are his donors. He has a political agenda which is clearly not for the general good of mankind.
The story starts with financier and philanthropist George Soros. Since 1994, Soros has poured nearly $80 million into research and advocacy in support of marijuana legalization and other rollbacks of drug law, including ending criminal sentences for non-violent drug crimes. In a recent article in the Financial Times, Soros lambasted the federal “war on drugs” as “a $1 trillion failure” that has created a massive black market and shifted the burden of enforcement onto fragile production and transit countries like Afghanistan and Mexico. According to an in-depth report by Kelly Riddell of the Washington Times, Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society donates roughly $4 million every year to the Drug Policy Alliance and its electoral arm, Drug Policy Action, each of which supports decriminalization and legalization efforts, as well as fighting incarceration, and projects such as needle exchanges and distribution of overdose antidotes to reduce the harm done by drug use. These organizations led the Colorado and Washington legalization efforts, and laid much of the groundwork for medical marijuana. Soros also supports work by the American Civil Liberties Union in favor of marijuana legalization, and the Marijuana Policy Project, which organizes policy change and state ballot measures.
“There has been no real regulation of this new industry. It’s like the Wild West out here.”
Soros’s efforts were more or less matched by Progressive Insurance chairman Peter Lewis, who first tried pot in his 30s and called it “better than scotch.” The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws estimates that Lewis spent $40-$60 million to support drug legalization from the 1980s until his death in 2013. Soros, Lewis, and various nonprofits associated with them provided 68 percent of the funding for the group that mobilized the legalization initiative in Washington state, and two thirds of the funding for the organization that pushed pot legalization in Colorado. These formal funding relationships buttress a series of informal connections in the Soros drug-policy universe. For example, Drug Policy Alliance president Ira Glasser is a former executive director of the ACLU. And Marijuana Policy Project co-founders Rob Kampia, Chuck Thomas, and Mike Kirshner formerly did advocacy at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.