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Orrin Hatch, MoveOn, and George Soros: The truth

George Soros (BSc '52) speaking to the LSE Alu...
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Senator Orrin Hatch seems to be a teeny bit unhappy with Moveon.org members’ recent protest at his office in Salt Lake City. The protesters were unhappy about Senator Hatch’s deep ties to the insurance industry; Senator Hatch was unhappy about being a target of protest.

Senator Hatch, in an interview with Andrea Mitchell:

Hatch: Now by the way MoveOn.org is a scurrilous organization. It’s funded by George Soros. He’s about as left wing as you can find in this country. And they’re up to just one thing, and that is to smear good people. And frankly, they’re not gonna smear me without getting kicked in the teeth by me.

As a proud MoveOn member and contributor, I take exception to the characterization of their organization as ‘scurrilous’, though Senator Hatch is certainly entitled to his opinion. But is it funded by George Soros, as the Senator contends?

A look at George Soros’ campaign contribution history shows that he made substantial contributions to MoveOn.org’s campaigns in 2003 and 2004. However, there have been no further contributions since then, up to and including the 2008 campaign and subsequent MoveOn efforts to advocate for health care reform.

Soros is certainly not the sole contributor to MoveOn.org, either. The list of contributors is quite long; in fact, it consumes the better part of over 12,000 pages of campaign disclosures for the first six months of 2009 alone.

According to MoveOn, they are 5 million members strong, with an average donation of $45/member. Whether Senator Hatch likes it or not, MoveOn.org is truly an organization of people, by people, for people.

Here is a breakdown of Senator Hatch’s top five campaign contributors for 2005-2010.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield $58,603
Fresenius Medical Care $58,202
Schering-Plough Corp $53,000
Xango LLC $47,700
Republican Party of Utah $45,000

(List of top 20 contributors here)

Why aim at Soros? He’s not even the top contributor to MoveOn; not even in the top 10 contributors to political campaigns. For Republicans, Soros is as much of a bogeyman to the Republicans as ACORN or the SEIU. Senator Hatch alludes to Soros as “about as left wing as you can get…” as though it’s a bad, terrible thing.

I took a quick look at Soros’ recent charitable projects. He gave $35 million to children in New York for Back to School supplies, donated $3 million to the Center for American Progress, $2.25 million to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and funds various initiatives for voter education and access, civic participation, justice and immigration issues.

Without question, George Soros is a man who stands for progressive values and is willing to fund them, just as similar conservative benefactors fund their causes and political projects. Case in point: Sheldon Adelson, who has donated nearly $3,000,000 to Newt Gingrich‘s “American Solutions for Winning the Future“, along with other Republican benefactors. Here’s a list of the top donors to the Gingrich organization, along with the amounts they’ve donated through August, 2009.

  1. Sheldon Adelson: $2,933,660
  2. Carl Lindner: $400,000
  3. Peabody Energy: $250,000
  4. Crow Holdings: $250,000
  5. Devon Energy Corp: $250,000
  6. Bernie Marcus: $250,000
  7. Frank/Lorenzo Fertitta: $250,000
  8. Terry Kohler: $125,000

These people have the right to use their money to fund causes they believe in, just as George Soros has the right to fund causes he believes in. Senator Hatch’s remarks about Soros and Moveon, his threat to kick “them in the teeth”, and refusal to acknowledge the facts that sparked the protest tells me who is ‘scurrilous’ and who is not. It certainly isn’t George Soros.

File this under examples of Republican twisted logic, where it seems to be okay for rich people to fund causes they’re passionate about unless those causes happen to be liberal causes.

As an aside: Keep an eye on the Gingrich group. They played a high-profile role in the teaparty movement this summer, and the “Drill here, drill now” movement in 2008. As the debate on cap and trade heats up, they’re sure to be a player. The influx of funds from energy, oil and gas companies is a leading indicator.

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