George Soros poured nearly $2 million into the Philadelphia District Attorney candidacy of Larry Krasner. As we all know, Krasner won.
Factors beyond donor money influenced the race, including perhaps voter apathy. Although the 18 percent Democratic turnout rate was higher than in past primaries, that’s still less than a fifth of the party. Soros’ money may not have been the biggest factor pushing previously apathetic Philadelphians to vote. But that still doesn’t eliminate the troubling fact that someone who had no connection to the Philadelphia area tried to manipulate, legally of course, a local race of such overwhelming importance.
And now Soros is trying to do it in my neighborhood.
Earlier this week news sources reported that Soros had donated $100,000 to the campaign of Jack Stollsteimer, a Democrat who is running against Katayoun (Kat) Copeland, the Republican incumbent for DA of Delaware County who took over when then-DA Jack Whelan became a judge. I don’t know if Soros has ever visited Delco (he should, it’s lovely), but he knows that it is on the edge of turning blue. And so he is using his considerable financial weight to help that happen, targeting the most important local race this election cycle.
I don’t know either of the DA candidates well, and my objections to Soros’ involvement in this race is not about picking one candidate against the other. I have had contacts with Copeland and I like what I’ve seen. She strikes me as an advocate for victims’ rights, and her office helped me in connection with a case involving an abused immigrant. I don’t have anything personal against Stollsteimer, either. I’m told he’s a good man.
This isn’t about either of them personally. This is about a man who has no connection to my corner of the world attempting to impose his agenda on a crucial local race without any real understanding of how that will impact the people who have to live with the fallout. This is about diminishing the voices of voters who could see their choices heavily influenced by a man they don’t know and money they can never hope to earn in three lifetimes.
We often talk about the negative impact of money on campaigns, and that debate should continue.
In Philly, we’ve seen how the hand of Soros has worked out. Krasner’s agenda, which he made clear during his campaign, was to radically revamp the way we do criminal justice in the city, eliminating cash bail for many offenses, charging cases at the lower end of the statutory spectrum, moving some cases out of the prosecutorial pipeline altogether, seeking lower sentences and taking on the issue of probation.
Some love what he’s doing. I think he’s been a disaster, and I am not alone. Some victims of violent crime and their families see Krasner as placing the rights of defendants above concern for the people they are accused of hurting. Judging from recent cases — including that of Michael White, who was just acquitted of the death of Sean Schellenger — it’s not hard to see why they feel that way.
George Soros does not know Michael White or the man he killed. He probably doesn’t have much of a relationship with Krasner, either. But Soros shares a progressive ideology with our DA and used his money to amplify Krasner’s voice so he could help bring their shared agenda to our city.
There is something concerning about a stranger placing his very weighty thumb on the scales of a local state race where he will not bear the consequences.
We will. And if you want to see what that looks like, you can ask the Schellenger family.
Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelph-ia Inquirer, and can be reached at email@example.com.