CLAIM

Billionaire political activist George Soros could go to prison for years because of $1.8 billion in "intercepted" campaign contributions to candidates in local district attorney elections.

RATING

ORIGIN

Billionaire political activist George Soros has long been the target of inaccurate and misleading reporting by hyperpartisan right-wing web sites.

During the summer of 2018, a number of those sites posted identically-worded articles with headlines asserting that Soros could “officially go to prison for years” as a result of $1.8 billion of his money being “intercepted” by unnamed entities (presumably law enforcement agencies). For example, the following excerpt was taken from a 4 July 2018 blog post on viralitythings.us:

BREAKING: $1.8 BIL Of Soros’ Money Just Intercepted — He Could Officially Go To Prison For Years

George Soros is at it again throwing his money around and trying to manipulate political races. This time he’s trying to reshape the nation’s criminal justice system.

Soros thinks he can do this by dumping $1.8 billion into four of the 56 district attorney positions in California up for grabs June 5th. This is the same kind of tactic he used to grab control of attorney generals in varying states.

Soros isn’t the only one either. Wealthy progressive liberal donors are also pouring millions of dollars into these races.

Liberal groups are offering their support to would-be prosecutors who favor lower incarceration rates, crackdowns on police misconduct and changes in a bail system that they argue discriminates against the poor, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“These people who want to create their own social policy are not worthy of the office,” former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley told the newspaper. “If they win in San Diego or Sacramento, L.A. is next.

You mean the city where the Mexican mafia runs the prisons? That city? Soros headlines a consortium of private funders, the American Civil Liberties Union and other social justice groups and Democratic activists who are willing to put their money where their Marxism is.

Notwithstanding its headline, nowhere in the body of the post did it actually state that Soros’s money was “intercepted,” much less detail when, where, why, or by whom. Nor did it state that Soros was faceing prison time for contributing to election campaigns.

Moreover, neither of those allegations could be found in the 23 May 2018 Los Angeles Times story the blog post cited as the main source of its claims. The Times‘ coverage focused on the unprecedented amount of money flowing from wealthy liberal donors into local, nonpartisan district attorney election campaigns around the country. Soros wasn’t the only contributor of such funding (but he was the largest). Although the article raised questions about the wisdom and propriety of injecting partisan cash into these elections, it imputed no illegality to Soros’s actions.

Besides fabricating claims about Soros’ going to jail, the blog post distorted the total dollar amount the billionaire contributed to district attorney campaigns: $18.97 million as of May 2018 (according to the Times), not $1.8 billion as claimed. We have not found the higher figure cited in any legitimate news reports.

In short, the author of the widely aggregated blog post fudged the facts and added fabricated claims to transform legitimate reporting on George Soros’s localized campaign contributions into a political smear. Who was that author? Although the majority of reproductions of the post included no byline, we did find one listed on what appears to be the original post, which was published on a web site called Right Wing News on 25 May 2018. It was authored by Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, whose byline appears on many other articles on that site as well as on other far-right web publications.

We note, however, that two major revisions were made after Monroe-Hamilton’s post was originally published. First, the headline was changed from “BREAKING: $1.8 BIL Of Soros’ Money Just Intercepted – He Could Officially Go To Prison For Years” to “OPINION: $1.8 Million Of Soros’ Money Just Intercepted – He Should Officially Go To Prison For Years.” Second, the sentence “Soros thinks he can do this by dumping $1.8 billion into four of the 56 district attorney positions in California…” was changed to “Soros thinks he can do this by dumping $1.5 Million into four of the 56 district attorney positions in California …”

No such corrections were added to versions of the post published on any other site we checked, including viralitythings.us.

Monroe-Hamilton, Terresa.   “OPINION: $1.8 Million of Soros’ Money Just Intercepted – He Should Officially Go to Prison for Years.”
    Right Wing News.   25 May 2018.

Monroe-Hamilton, Terresa.  “OPINION: $1.8 Million of Soros’ Money Just Intercepted – He Should Officially Go to Prison for Years.”
  Right Wing News.  25 May 2018 (revised version).

Mikelionis, Lukas.  ” Soros Spends Big in California’s DA Races in Bid to Reshape Criminal Justice System.”
    Fox News.   24 May 2018.

St. John, Paige and Abbie Vansickle.   “Here’s Why George Soros, Liberal Groups Are Spending Big to Help Decide Who’s Your Next D.A.”
    Los Angeles Times.   23 May 2018.

viralitythings.us.   “BREAKING: $1.8 BIL of Soros’ Money Just Intercepted – He Could Officially Go to Prison for Years.”
    4 July 2018.

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