The spectre of George Soros - a billionaire philanthropist who supports liberal causes and is the focus of many conspiracy theorists - has entered the 7th District congressional race.
Dave Brat, the Republican incumbent, is saying on conservative radio shows that Soros is behind the hefty fundraising of Abigail Spanberger, the Democratic challenger. Spanberger had raised $4.5 million through Sept. 25, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commision. That was nearly double the $2.3 million raised by Brat - or a $2.2 million difference.
Brat says Soros organizations are responsible for the difference.
"She got $2.2 million from ActBlue," Brat said during an Oct. 21 interview on Breitbart News Sunday. "Your audience probably knows who they are, right? But that is the George Soros resistance group. That’s not even mainstream Democrat. That’s the group that’s doing the riots in Portland, that’s promoting violence and mobs instead of jobs."
"...Abigail Spanberger is getting $2.2 million from the Soros-linked resist movement - ActBlue," Brat said during an Oct. 22 interview on the John Frederick Show in Portsmouth.
"She raised $3 million in the last three months, which is unheard of, from (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi and ActBlue, which is a George Soros-backed group," Brat said during an Oct. 16 interview on News Radio WRVA in Richmond. "It’s her largest bundler which raises money, and that is the group that is behind the resistance movement across the United States."
Soros has been high in the news lately. Some conservatives - including religious broadcaster Pat Roberston of Virginia Beach - have accused Soros of funding the migrant caravan from the Honduras to the United States - a charge the billionaire says is false and for which no supporting evidence has emerged. And on Oct. 22, a pipe bomb was found in the mailbox of Soros’ home near New York City - one of at least 14 explosives that had been mailed in late October to critics of President Donald Trump.
We wondered whether Brat is right in claiming Spanberger’s campaign has received $2.2 million from a Soros-controlled group called ActBlue. Let’s take a look.
What is ActBlue?
ActBlue is a nonprofit organization that provides a software platform for people to contribute to Democratic campaigns through personal computers and cell phones. If you donate to a Democratic candidate on his or her website, there’s a good chance that ActBlue is the conduit that sends your money to the campaign - much like PayPal is the conduit for many online purchases. Since its inception in 2005, ActBlue says it has funneled $3 billion to Democratic candidates and "progressive" causes.
Spanberger uses ActBlue, and has received several thousand individual contributions through the platform. They totaled almost $2.2 million through Sept. 25, which was the most current FEC reporting date available when Brat made his statements.
Soros is among millions of people who have made contributions through ActBlue, according to Chris Fleming, spokesman for the nonprofit. "Soros has given through ActBlue, not to ActBlue," Fleming said. "Anyone can give through ActBlue."
Fleming declined give the sum of Soros' donations to candidates through ActBlue. But he emphasized that Soros does not financially support ActBlue nor play a role in its operations. "ActBlue is in no way related to George Soros," he said.
Soros has not personally given money to Spanberger’s campaign or to any Democrat running for Congress during this two-year election cycle, according to FEC records.
We asked Brat’s campaign for proof of the candidate’s claim that ActBlue "is the George Soros resistance group." Katey Price, Brat’s campaign spokesperson, sent an article from USA Today and blogs from two conservative websites: Human Events and The Daily Signal.
On March 20, 2017, USA Today ran a story headlined, "George Soros-aligned group weighs funding anti-Trump activists." The article reported that Indivisible - a group seeking to build "resistance" to President Donald Trump’s agenda - was seeking support (successfully, it turns out) from the Democracy Alliance, an activist organization Soros helped found in 2005 that raises money through ActBlue.
The Daily Signal - on Feb. 10, 2017 - reported that one member of Indivisible’s board of directors had previously worked for a Soros-funded group, and another member is now employed by an organization that has received money from the billionaire. That shows, according to the blog, that Soros has "loose ties" to Indivisible. ActBlue, the blog says "raises money" for Indivisible.
Human Events - on July 7, 2009 - called ActBlue a mouthpiece "for the radical agendas of the likes of Soros and labor." As proof, it wrote that "Soros directly donated $6,900 to ActBlue on May 11, 2008." Fleming said this is wrong; Soros contributed the sum "through" ActBlue to Scott Kleeb, a Nebraska Democrat who was running for the U.S. Senate.
Brat says of Spanberger, "She got $2.2 million for ActBlue...That is the George Soros resistance group." Brat is implausibly positioning Soros, the focus of many conservative theorists, as the power behind Spanberger’s campaign.
ActBlue is not a Soros-controlled organization. It’s a nonprofit group that provides a software platform that allows people to contribute to Democratic candidates and causes through their personal computers and cell phones. ActBlue is a conduit; it does not raise political money.
As of Sept. 25, Spanberger had raised almost $2.2 million through ActBlue. The money came for from several thousand individuals, not Soros. Brat’s attempts to tie Soros to ActBlue and, therefore, Spanberger’s campaign - sometimes through third or fourth-hand links - is contrived and deceptive.
We rate Brat’s statement Pants on Fire.