Over the last year or two, the plague of “Soros DA’s” has become somewhat well-known across the country. Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner was sworn in then immediately cleaned house; Chicago’s Kim Foxx inexplicably dropped charges against Jussie Smollett; St. Louis’ Kim Gardner charged the McCloskey’s for defending their own home against a Black Lives Matter mob; and Contra Costa County, California’s Diana Becton issued a guidance mandating that her deputies determine whether someone “needed” an item before they could be charged with looting.
Let’s not forget San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin, son of Weather Underground bombers who was raised by Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorn, who looks the other way for most crimes.
Boudin was elected after longtime San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon decided to move “home” to Los Angeles and challenge incumbent DA Jackie Lacey, who wasn’t quite radical enough for LA’s burgeoning Black Lives Matter scene. What most people don’t know is that Gascon is the OG Soros DA, and that it was at Gascon’s urging that Soros plunged the first $50 million into what I’ll dub the Progressive Prosecutor Project – through the ACLU, which funded shadow groups to move the money through, of course.
Gascon’s not shy about it, either. He described it all during a January 2020 appearance at USC School of Law.
Gascon left his position as Assistant Chief of the LAPD (after being passed over twice for the Chief position) to being the police chief of Mesa, Arizona, in 2006. He and Joe Arpaio naturally butted heads, and in 2009 Gascon was asked to resign. Coincidentally, around that time then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom needed to appoint a new police chief and recruited Gascon. Gascon’s philosophies aligned with then-District Attorney Kamala Harris’, but it’s important to note that those philosophies pre-existed his time in San Francisco and were likely the reason he was recruited. Gascon said (emphasis added):
My focus from the very beginning when I became District Attorney is – I had been working already at the national level for almost a decade on criminal justice reform, really with a very strong focus on reducing incarceration. At that point in my life that was really the goal. You know, my goal is much broader today…
I believed that we could find a balance between reducing crime and community safety and reducing incarceration. I think you can do both at the same time, and we proved that you could….
Gascon then meandered around to the story of how attorneys with more of a public defender mindset ended up running for District Attorney. Buckle up.
In 2011 I sat down with a friend of mine. We — I had been working with the Executive Sessions in Public Safety at the Harvard University School of Public Policy for years as a fellow, doing a lot of work there, and we knew that the term progressive and prosecutors, they were not coming together…
We literally started looking at a map of the US, and we were trying to identify strategically, what are the urban centers whereas anybody that could be considered a progressive prosecutor – there were a couple of people that had been nibbling in some areas, but we just couldn’t find one.
Obviously, some kind of organized effort was needed, and Gascon stepped right up. He continued:
So one of the conversations was then, how do we go about creating a movement here? Which actually eventually led to Open Societies Foundation, which is George Soros’ foundation, putting almost $50 million in 2014 through the ACLU to begin the movement.
At first glance that seems like quite a leap. A brand new District Attorney who’s spent some time lecturing at Harvard convinces Soros to drop $50 million to begin a Progressive Prosecutor movement? But, that wasn’t the first time Soros and Gascon worked together on a big project.
George Gascon co-authored California’s Proposition 14, which appeared on the 2014 ballot and “reduced the classification of most nonviolent property and drug crimes—including theft and fraud for amounts up to $950—from a felony to a misdemeanor” and was deceptively titled “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” The Yes on 47 committee was primarily funded by the ACLU and the Open Society Policy Center – and a significant donation from Netflix’s Reed Hastings, who went on to become a major donor for Gascon’s Los Angeles District Attorney campaign. Yes on 47 proponents spent nearly $10 million on the campaign, while No on 47 advocates could only muster up about $500,000; naturally, the measure passed by almost 20 percentage points.
The Proposition 47 campaign was seemingly the “proof of concept” for the Progressive Prosecutor Project: flood the market with Soros money, funneled through shadow organizations with names like “Californians for Safety and Justice,” send out academics touting “studies” run by Soros-funded “think tanks,” and keep the bullet point messaging tightly focused on things like “ending the school to prison pipeline,” getting addicts and the mentally ill the help they need, and the like.
By donating to ACLU, Soros was also essentially purchasing an existing infrastructure helmed by locals who had their finger on the pulse of the community, so they could strategically select which races to play in first. From a press release announcing the $50 million donation:
“There are few organizations in the United States in such close alignment with our values and criminal justice reform goals as the ACLU,” said Christopher Stone, President of the Open Society Foundations. “We are confident that our support of the already advanced state-level ACLU operations can truly transform thinking about public safety, move progressive and innovative legislation forward, and restore the trust of communities hit hardest by the overuse and abuse of our criminal justice system.”
Gascon assisted in identifying and recruiting DA candidates, but also in training newly-elected Soros DA’s and their key personnel by having them spend time in his San Francisco office. Again, from the January 2020 video:
And, you know, people like [Philadelphia DA] Larry Krasner and others came to my office while they were running for office. In some cases we identified people to run for office, and then many would come in after getting elected….So, for instance Larry’s number two at one point spent almost a month going in and out of my office.
Many have been shocked by the speed at which Gascon has implemented his drastic policies in Los Angeles; while there are Soros DA’s all over the country, none have made quite the quick splash Gascon has. Gascon told the law students at USC he wanted to move that quickly in San Francisco but knew he would get recalled if he did:
When I went into the office about 65% of our work was drug-related. We basically dropped that to the mid 20’s and we said, we’re gonna concentrate on violent crime.
And frankly, there were political reasons for that also, because I could not just simply say we’re gonna turn the system upside down the first few days that I’m in office, you know. You have to progressively… a lot of things that are acceptable today, in 2011 would have gotten me – there would have been a recall two years after I was in office, and I didn’t want to get recalled because that doesn’t get the work done.
Apparently Gascon believes the mood in the country and in Los Angeles in particular has really shifted since 2011, because he’s pursued his “work” with gusto in his first four weeks in office.
This time, he might have made a major miscalculation, though. Nearly 50,000 Angelenos have joined a Recall George Gascon group, which is making preparations to initiate a recall once it’s legally permissible (90 days after Gascon took office). The group is hosting a candlelight vigil to remember victims of violent crime on New Year’s Even in front of the Hall of Justice in Downtown Los Angeles.