George Soros has long been a target of the Kremlin, which has seen a conspiracy and a threat to its power in the billionaire’s funding of democratic elements in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. That line now seems to have been adopted by a few Republican congressmen, who sent a letter this week to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accusing Soros’ Open Society of plans to “push a progressive agenda and invigorate the political left.”
The letter was initiated by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Senator Mike Lee of Utah, and has earned the signatures of other prominent conservatives, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz. It asked the State Department to look into whether foreign aid programs were coordinating efforts with the Open Society Foundation in Macedonia, a former Soviet bloc state where a controversial right-wing, nationalist party has been holding onto power. Russia has favored such parties in Macedonia and elsewhere, which it sees as aligned with its own state ideology.
Soros, a Holocaust survivor who made a fortune through market and currency speculation, has become one of the Republicans’s largest bugaboos, with President Donald Trump running ads against him with rhetoric that many saw as anti-Semitic.
As one former Republican Senate aide told Politico, “The whole ‘George Soros is the root of all evils’ story has great appeal to some folks.”