In the world of philanthropy, no name looms larger than that of George Soros. Over the last 40 years, Soros has been one of the premier philanthropists the world over, donating billions of dollars in an effort to effect change in areas about which he is passionate. From toppling entire governments to changing the outcomes of elections and spreading democracy, Soros has been one of the staunchest advocate for open societies and democratic policies the world over.
Unlike many of his billionaire peers, Soros has never been particularly interested in the accumulation of vast sums of wealth. He has always viewed wealth is secondary, as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. At the beginning of his career, Soros only wanted to save $500,000 so that he would be able to pursue a life of philosophy. He would eventually make many orders of magnitude this amount of money. But he still has stuck with his philosophical roots. Soros has put his wealth too skillful use, creating one of the most formidable charitable associations in the world, the Open Societies Foundation.
One of the areas and which George Soros has decided to focus his philanthropic efforts is in American criminal justice reform. Over the last few years, Soros has pursued a strategy of reforming the U.S. criminal justice system by replacing prosecutors, judges and sheriffs who have a proven track record of taking hard line, law and order stances, which lead to the disproportionate conviction of minority citizens.
Soros has chiefly pursued the strategy through making large donations to progressive candidates, many of whom are often virtually without campaign funds and have not run for political office before. One such example is the case of Aramis Ayala who ran against longtime conservative incumbent Jeff Ashton in the Orlando, Florida prosecutorial race. Know more on cnbc.com about George Soros.
Ayala was a longtime public defender, who had seen firsthand the ravages of a systemically racist justice system coming down hard on minorities. She had seen the damage that prosecutors wielding their discretion to bring charges in ways that disproportionately affect minorities had on the overall well being of her constituents.
Ashton was the prosecutor in a city that has a large minority population. His policies had long led to serious discrepancies between rates of incarceration and conviction for whites and blacks. Ayala had a plan to change that. But she had no money.
George Soros stepped in with a donation of more than $1.2 million, infusing Ayala’s campaign coffers with sufficient money to run non-stop television ads delineating her positions and reaching the constituents who could put her into office.
The plan worked brilliantly. In an upset landslide, Ayala roundly defeated Ashton, becoming the first African American prosecutor in Florida state history. This momentous event also marks the beginning of a radically transformed Orlando criminal justice system, where minorities, for the first time in many decades, actually stood a chance of being adjudicated fairly before the eyes of the law. Read more at Politico about George Soros.