Throughout 2016, George Soros and his political action committees went on a march to the sea, torching the reelection hopes of conservative candidates from coast to coast. This effort was primarily focused on prosecutors, who Soros rightfully sees as wielding intense power in the U.S. criminal justice system.
These financial interventions in local prosecutorial and sheriff’s races have almost uniformly produced victories for the Soros camp. But more importantly for the residents who are under the jurisdictions of these candidates, the election of progressive, justice-minded candidates on Forbes promises to radically alter the shape of the criminal justice system and how certain crimes are treated, especially with regard to minorities.
The first black prosecutor in Florida
Aramis Ayala decided to run for Orange County prosecutor back in 2015. The Orlando, Florida prosecutor’s office was then headed by incumbent Jeff Ashton. Ashton’s tenure on opensocietyfoundations.org had produced a relatively safe Orlando, that is, compared to Orlando’s own past, but the city was still plagued by a great deal of violent street crime. Moreover, Ashton, in his zeal to create a safer city, had amassed an unfortunate record of severe racial disparities in sentencing and charging. Aramis Ayala offered a new, more egalitarian approach.
But Ayala had serious problems of her own. In fact, at the start of her campaign on Politico, the candidate had little chance of securing a victory. Ayala was an unknown black public defender whose entire career had consisted of providing defense counsel for the indigent street criminals of metropolitan Orlando. However, she was also a cancer survivor and a fighter. She quietly reached out to a Soros PAC that instantly recognized her as exactly the sort of reform-oriented candidate that they could use to effect powerful change.
George Soros’ fund eventually extended a $1,300,000 donation to Ayala’s campaign, a tremendous amount of money in a local prosecutor’s race. The money was used effectively to cover the airwaves, both television and radio, with pro-Ayala advertisements. Ashton could not keep up with the flood of money which had swelled the coffers of his rival. The strategy worked, Ayala walked away victorious in one of the largest landslides in recent Orlando memory. In so doing, she also became the first black prosecutor in Florida state history.
Another similar story unfolded in Mississippi. There, a black man named Scott Colom was running against another conservative opponent, Forrest Allgood. The latter, as in the case with Florida’s Ashton, had accumulated an unseemly record of disproportionate minority convictions. Scott Colom promised to ease his predecessor’s hard-line tactics by diverting more drug offenders to non-jail-based treatment programs and generally keeping non-violent offenders out of jails and prisons. His plan called for reducing even the number of convicts serving time for property crime, instead focusing on more productive restitutive measures.
As in Florida, George Soros swooped in with a large donation, up to $1,000,000 by some estimates. Colom then rode to victory on the heels of a massive television advertisement campaign, defeating the long tenured Allgood. As George Soros continues scoring victories, his opponents, like Ashton and Allgood, must wonder if they’ve gotten in over their heads.