Continued from page 1

One of the SOSP’s financial backers is Mr. Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund operator who spent $27 million in 2004 in an unsuccessful effort to defeat President George W. Bush. Mr. Soros spent $5.1 million in the 2008 election supporting Democratic candidates and causes. In 2008, he gave $10,000 to SOSP.

A spokesman for Mr. Soros downplayed the financier’s role in the project.

“He supports the organization,” said Michael Vachon, who manages Mr. Soros‘ political donations. “He was in favor of electing Democrats secretary of state. George was not a founder of the project, and he never had an operational role or helped plan strategy.”

But many of SOSP’s founders and supporters have long-standing ties to Mr. Soros and the organizations he founded or helped fund, including Democracy Alliance, a liberal-leaning group whose membership includes some of the country’s wealthiest Democrats. Created in 2005 with major financial backing from Mr. Soros and millionaire Colorado businessmen and gay-rights activist Tim Gill, Democracy Alliance has helped direct nearly $150 million to progressive organizations.

SOSP’s founders include Michael Kieschnick, a Democracy Alliance member who also is president of a telecommunications company that donates to progressive nonprofit groups; James Rucker, former director of Soros-supported MoveOn.org, a stridently anti-Bush group known for its ads comparing Mr. Bush to Adolf Hitler; and Becky Bond, former director at ActBlue, a political committee that bills itself as “the nation’s largest source of funds for Democrats,” whose contributors include Mr. Soros.

Mr. Kieschnick, Mr. Rucker and Ms. Bond did not respond to emails and telephone messages seeking comment.

Democracy Alliance members who gave to SOSP include furniture company heir John R. Hunting; computer company executive Paul Rudd; medical-supply firm heiress Pat Stryker; venture capitalist Nicholas Hanauer; ex-Clinton administration official Rob Stein; Tides Foundation founder Drummond Pike; real estate developer Robert Bowditch; charitable foundation co-chairman Scott Wallace; clothing executive Susie Tompkins Buell; real estate developer Albert Dwoskin; child psychologist Gail Furman; and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay.

Ms. Furman also is president of the Furman Foundation, a major donor to the Soros-backed Tides Center, which has provided more than $300 million to “progressive” causes.

Mr. Dwoskin also is chairman of Catalist, a Soros-funded political consultancy in Virginia that, according to its website, “brings easy to use web-based tools and a high quality voter database of all voting-age individuals in the United States to progressive organizations and campaigns.”

Other SOSP donors include Daniel Berger, who helped create Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, whose donors include Democracy Alliance and Mr. Soros‘ Open Society Institute; and Chris Findlater, chairman of the Florida Watch Ballot Committee, whose funding comes from America Votes, a Soros-supported get-out-the-vote group.

The SOSP also used ActBlue to help raise funds for itself and its candidates from Democratic donors nationwide. ActBlue says it has raised more than $190 million online for Democratic candidates since 2004.

Mr. Soros and several SOSP contributors also are part of a small group of wealthy liberals who have been among the top donors to 527 organizations set up to mobilize Democratic voters in recent years.

In 2004, Mr. Soros was the largest individual donor to America Coming Together (ACT), a 527 group he helped create along with Mr. McKay, the Taco Bell boss, to defeat Mr. Bush. Mr. Soros gave $7.5 million. Mr. McKay, now chairman of Democracy Alliance, gave $245,000 to ACT, and he and his family foundation donated $35,000 to SOSP.

Alida Messinger, a Rockefeller heiress, gave $2.25 million to ACT and $25,000 to SOSP, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group that monitors campaign finances. She and other top SOSP donors also were major donors to America Votes 2006, another Soros-backed liberal group that sought to elect Democratic candidates, records show.

Mr. Soros also gave $3.5 million and was the largest donor to a short-lived political group called the Fund for America, set up in late 2007 to do voter outreach and finance attack ads for the 2008 election. Four of the fund’s nine donors who gave $200,000 or more also contributed to SOSP, including Mr. Soros, Mr. McKay, Mr. Hunting and Lee Fikes of Bonanza Oil, who gave $600,000 to the Fund for America and $22,500 to SOSP.

Story Continues →