Illinois Civil Justice League: George Soros Funds ICPR?

April 13, 2005

George Soros Funds ICPR?

Ryan Sager, an editor at the NY Post is calling it "Buying Reform." At ICJL, we're "Watching the Watchdogs," the same watchdogs that continue to push one-sided reforms to our state's judicial elections. All I know is that the mounting evidence is bringing even more scrutiny to organizations detailed in a February 2005 ICJL Study. Especially now that its clear that one of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's donors is George Soros' foundation - yes, the same George Soros who is credited with being the largest soft money election contributor in US history.

According to Sager:

Campaign-finance reform has been an immense scam perpetrated on the American people by a cadre of left-wing foundations and disguised as a "mass movement."

But don't take my word for it. One of the chief scammers, Sean Treglia, a former program officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts, confesses it all in an astonishing videotape I obtained earlier this week.

The tape — of a conference held at USC's Annenberg School for Communication in March of 2004 — shows Treglia expounding to a gathering of academics, experts and journalists (none of whom, apparently, ever wrote about Treglia's remarks) on just how Pew and other left-wing foundations plotted to create a fake grassroots movement to hoodwink Congress.

"I'm going to tell you a story that I've never told any reporter," Treglia says on the tape. "Now that I'm several months away from Pew and we have campaign-finance reform, I can tell this story."

Sager outlines the story, and if you doubt him or I, just watch the actual video located here, here, and here (entire conference available from USC's website here or from Sager's blog here).

Charged with promoting campaign-finance reform when he joined Pew in the mid-1990s, Treglia came up with a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of "experts" all over the country with foundation money and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform.

Treglia's revelations help put in context a report just out from a group called Political Money Line, "Campaign Finance Lobby: 1994-2004," which follows the money behind campaign-finance reform.

That cash, it turns out, was the one thing about the "movement" that was masssive: From 1994 to 2004, almost $140 million was spent to lobby for changes to our country's campaign-finance laws.

But this money didn't come from little old ladies making do with cat food so they could send a $20 check to Common Cause. The vast majority of this money — $123 million, 88 percent of the total — came from just eight liberal foundations.

These foundations were: the Pew Charitable Trusts ($40.1 million), the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy ($17.6 million), the Carnegie Corporation of New York ($14.1 million), the Joyce Foundation ($13.5 million), George Soros' Open Society Institute ($12.6 million), the Jerome Kohlberg Trust ($11.3 million), the Ford Foundation ($8.8 million) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($5.2 million).

I couldn't find an online copy of the study by Political Money Line (although Sager has setup an opportunity to get "guest" privileges on their site), but I did find the 2001 George Will column referring to the study, "Who's Buying Campaign Finance Reform." My favorite line from George Will: "...reformer, Jerome Kohlberg, donated $100,000 to a group that ran ads saying 'Let's get the $100,000 checks out of politics.'" Not that Illinois has seen any $100,000 checks in Supreme Court politics lately.

Speaking of Illinois... While Sager focused his study on the broader national organizations, ICJL looked into foundation funding from the same eight organizations to campaign finance reform efforts in Illinois.

According to the websites of two of the eight foundations, more than $2.5 million has been donated to campaign finance reform efforts in Illinois since 1997. The Joyce Foundation and the George Soros "Open Society Institute" have fueled a majority of the efforts, including three direct grants to ICPR from 2003-2004 and five grants to the League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund from 1997-2004.

Another $360,000 in Joyce Foundation grants were given to SIUC and UIS for pre-ICPR promotional efforts and support for the Sunshine database.

The Justice at Stake campaign for Illinois has received $210,000 in five grants from the Joyce and Soros foundations to the Public Action Foundation, Protestants for the Common Good, and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

The Joyce, Soros, Ford and Carnegie foundations have given another $2 million to Georgetown University for creation of the nationwide Justice at Stake campaign, $3.25 million to the Brennan Center for Justice (Brennan was the US Supreme Court justice known for judicial activism), and $550,000 to the USAction Education Fund. The Brennan Center serves as counsel for ICPR and the Sunshine Project. USAction is the anti-legal-reform group that ran ads countering President Bush's Madison County visit and serves as the national coalition for Citizen Action groups.

The Soros and Joyce foundations have given over a half million dollars to the Chicago-based American Bar Association Education Fund for Justice and Education for their "Standing Committee on Judicial Independence" and for the creation of "standards for and models of public financing for state judicial elections."

As Sager details, some of the Foundations didn't want any publicity for the efforts:

"We had a scare," Treglia says. "As the debate was progressing and getting pretty close, George Will stumbled across a report that we had done and attacked it in his column. And a lot of his partisans were becoming aware of Pew's role and were feeding him information. And he started to reference the fact that Pew had played a large role in this — that this was a liberal attempt to hoodwink Congress."

"But you know what the good news is from my perspective?" Treglia says to the stunned crowd. "Journalists didn't care…So no one followed up on the story. And so there was a panic there for a couple of weeks because we thought the story was going to begin to gather steam, and no one picked it up."

Treglia's right. While he admits Pew specifically instructed groups receiving its grants "never to mention Pew," all these connections were disclosed (as legally required) in various tax forms and annual reports. "If any reporter wanted to know, they could have sat down and connected the dots," he said. "But they didn't."

Maybe the press was afraid that Capitol Fax would poke fun at the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and call it a Conspiracy Theory. Maybe they didn't want to feel the spite of people from the reform groups.

I just can't get over the irony that George Soros - the man that spent $23 million contributing to 527 groups like and The Media Fund and in 2004 made the largest soft money contribution in history - helps bankroll Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, the group founded to "reform" the way money influences elections.

I just can't help but wonder why these foundations grant hundreds of thousands of dollars to the League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund specifically for "support of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform"? Why not just give the money directly to ICPR? I would hate to think that ICPR didn't know the money was being "funneled" through another source?

I enjoyed columnist James Norrell's view of the situation:

If there were an illustration accompanying the word "hypocrisy" in the dictionary, it would be an engraving of globalist billionaire George Soros.

Soros, one of the richest men in the world, backed campaign finance reform with huge cash donations to a wide variety of Washington "reform" special interest groups to accomplish what his funding conduit called an effort "to reduce the corrupting influence of very large donors" and to ban pre-election "issue advocacy" ads [....]

Now, arch-reformer Soros is pouring perhaps as much as $30-million of his own money into left-wing "progressive" organizations he believes are uniquely inoculated against the restrictions of the very law Soros bought and paid for [.]

Since the release of the February 2004 ICJL report, the ICPR has joined forces with the Brennan Center for Justice - an organization that has received $1 million in Soros funding in the past two years and whose namesake is considered the most activist jurist in modern history. In Illinois, they have retaliated by attacking the Coalition for Jobs, Growth & Prosperity, a Karmeier contributor. Funny, ICPR and the Brennan Center failed to file any complaints against the Citizen Action PAC for similar activities in their support of Maag.

Is there no doubt now, with George Soros funding ICPR's judicial reform activities and Michael Moore fueling the Center for Justice & Democracy and their work to counter any legal reforms, that the goofy campaign to ensure activist courts (like the ones in Madison County) has included "monitoring committees," movie crews, and - most of all - strategic litigation to silence critics.

Now, Soros-sponsored groups are targeting MILLIONS of YOUR TAX MONEY to pay for public financing of judicial elections and state-sponsored voter guides to be mailed to homes across Illinois. Under impartial auspices, these ideas might have merit. However, now that the League of Women Voters is even documented as taking money from these foundations, to whom could we ever turn over the administration of a TRULY non-biased voter guide?

Perhaps we should just hand it over to McCain & Feingold?


Blogger wildcat said...

Wow Al, that's quite a post for 7:00 AM. Thanks for the information. Some of that reminds me of Wag the Dog - maybe they could hire Dustin Hoffman as their lead actor. And if Dustin isn't available, maybe Rep. Jay Hoffman will be...

2:47 PM  

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