In the 2012 election cycle, the biggest single political donation made by a Soros didn’t come from George.
The progressive hedge fund billionaire was outdone by his 26-year-old son, Alexander, who in March wrote a $200,000 check to the Democratic-leaning super PAC responsible for the 2008 Great Schlep campaign backing then presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The elder Soros still outpaces his second-youngest child in overall political giving, according to Federal Election Commission records.
But Alexander Soros’s major gift may point to a generational shift in the philanthropic and political efforts of the Soros family. As George Soros enters his 80s, the five children of the controversial Hungarian-born Jewish investor appear to be emerging from their father’s long shadow.
In the lead is Alexander who, in addition to his super PAC gift, has announced the launch of his own foundation. Jonathan Soros, 41, Alexander’s half-brother, also drew attention in April for his support of a new effort to introduce public financing of elections in New York State.
George Soros, ranked by Forbes as the 22nd wealthiest person in the world, is among the most prolific philanthropists in the United States. His Open Society Foundations make grants worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually and have given a total of $8 billion over the past three decades to causes ranging from democracy promotion to public health and human rights. Soros’s billions in philanthropic giving are overshadowed in the public mind by his political largesse, largely in support of Democratic causes and candidates. Soros gave $23.7 million to outside spending groups in the 2004 election cycle in an effort to defeat George W. Bush; his contribution was more than that of any other donor, according to records kept by the Center for Responsive Politics. He was also a leading giver to outside spending groups in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.
Alexander Soros looks to be preparing to repeat that dual pattern laid down by his father. On the one hand, the University of California doctoral candidate announced the launch of his own philanthropic foundation in early April. On the other hand, Alexander Soros is only a few thousand dollars behind his father in 2012 political giving.
Alexander Soros was unavailable to speak with the Forward for this story. Information about the size and mission of the Alexander Soros Foundation, the existence of which was announced April 5, is not yet available.
The younger Soros told Lifestyles Magazine in its Spring 2012 issue that the new foundation is a way for him to focus on his own philanthropic priorities. He explained that Open Society is “not a legacy I’m trying to go away from. But I want to do more and give to things that I have a closer connection to or should be given more of a certain push,” he told the magazine.