WASHINGTON — Making a major foray into partisan politics, multibillionaire George Soros is committing $10 million to a new Democratic-leaning group aimed at defeating President Bush next year.
Soros, who in the past has donated on a smaller scale to Democratic candidates and the party, pledged the money to a political action committee called America Coming Together, spokesman Michael Vachon said.
The group plans a $75-million effort to defeat Bush and "elect progressive officials at every level in 2004," targeting 17 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
"The fate of the world depends on the United States, and President Bush is leading us in the wrong direction," Soros said in a written statement. "ACT is an effective way to mobilize civil society, to convince people to go to the polls and vote for candidates who will reassert the values of the greatest open society in the world."
Soros has been better known for his philanthropy and a $1-billion effort to try to prevent the proliferation of Russian nuclear weapons after the Soviet Union collapsed. He said earlier this summer that he was lessening his Russian spending after finding it was subsidizing programs such as education reforms better paid for by the government.
ACT said it plans a large-scale effort to register voters and mobilize them to go to the polls. It claims to have $30 million in commitments and plans a national fund-raising drive.
The group is headed by Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY's List, a group dedicated to winning the election of Democratic women who support abortion rights, such as New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The new PAC's co-founders include Steve Rosenthal, head of the Partnership for America's Families and former political director for the AFL-CIO; Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union; Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive director; and Cecile Richards, president of America Votes, a new Democratic-leaning group that includes many of the same members as America Coming Together.