Business magnate George Soros, one of the largest contributors of funding for marijuana legalization efforts around the globe, is the biggest billionaire backer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Bloomberg reported this week.
Soros, the hedge fund manager, investor and activist, was the largest contributor among Bloomberg Billionaires Index members to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, according to the Bloomberg article.
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Soros and his foundations have shelled out nearly $11.9 million for Clinton’s campaign, Bloomberg reported, adding that the former U.S. Secretary of State had garnered $21.1 million for her campaign and related political action committees by 17 U.S. billionaires on the index:
While the role the wealthiest play in American politics has come under increased scrutiny with growing attention to income inequality fueling the rise of populist candidates, contributions from U.S. billionaires on the Bloomberg index amount to 3 percent of the $708 million raised by the two candidates, as of the latest Federal Election Commission filings.
Hedge fund billionaire George Soros is the biggest spender among donors on the index, giving almost $11.9 million to Clinton’s cause. A Hungarian immigrant to the U.S., Soros is the 17th-richest person in the country with $24.7 billion, according to the index. The co-founder of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies — and former NSA codebreaker — James Simons, is the second-biggest spender, giving $7 million to Clinton.
Clinton has said she supports states serving as the “laboratories of democracy” for potential legalization and has promised, if elected, to reschedule marijuana to a Schedule II substance from a Schedule I substance.
Alternatively, Clinton’s counterpart Donald Trump has raised just over $1 million from 12 members of the billionaires index, Bloomberg reported. Trump has said he supports states’ rights on marijuana issues and that he would not use federal authority to shut down existing markets.
In 2014, Forbes reported that Soros’ drug reform financial contributions totaled about $200 million:
“He’s played a historic role in the evolution of drug policy reform from a movement that was at the fringe of U.S. politics to one that is in the mainstream,” said Ethan Nadelmann, who runs the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance.
The largest recipient of that $200 million is the Drug Policy Alliance. Nadelmann said his organization has worked with Soros for decades, and that the foundation now gives roughly $5 million a year to his nonprofit or one of its affiliates.
Nadelmann recalled his organization’s first success with Soros’s help: when they won key states for medical marijuana in the late 1990s.