George Soros, a Hungarian-American New York benefactor of liberal causes, won’t be on the ballot for Texas governor next year. Yet Gov. Greg Abbott, who has yet to draw a consequential Democratic challenger, has repeatedly singled out Soros in speeches, emails and tweets.
Abbott’s July 14 re-election kickoff speech invoked Soros just after mention of Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. "Liberals think they’ve found cracks in our armor. In 2014, I won Harris County and Bexar Country. In 2016, Hillary won them both," Abbott said. "What happened? George Soros for one. He poured big money into Harris County, and they won every countywide race.
"Liberals are messing with Texas," Abbott continued. “Every far-left liberal you can think of from George Soros to Nancy Pelosi is trying to undo the Texas brand of liberty and prosperity.”
Abbott earlier warned donors about "liberal billionaire" Soros in a June email blast. The same week, the governor was featured at a conservative Colorado Springs gathering where he drilled in on Soros's 2016 spending on behalf of Democrat Kim Ogg's winning Harris County run for district attorney.
“There’s a lot of money going into the state of Texas that you all would not even know about,” Abbott said, according to a National Journal recording. “I mention two words that should put a shiver down the spine of everyone in this room: George Soros,” he said. Soros, he said, gave “half a million dollars” to Ogg — and Clinton carried the county as well.
We found that Soros spent more than that. Campaign records indicate Soros made 10 donations totaling $1,456,800 to the Texas Safety and Justice PAC, which redirected $644,477 to the Texas Democratic Party; $583,684 in support of Ogg; and before that, in the Democratic primary for district attorney, $246,854 in support of candidate Morris Overstreet.
The PAC dissolved in 2017, though, its penultimate act being a $3,421.99 refund to Soros.
“And so,” Abbott said in Colorado, “we’ve got our work cut out for us going forward,” adding that his campaign intends to gather “an army” of 10,000 to 15,000 iPad-toting supporters to canvass door to door. “The reason, in part, is that is the model that George Soros used so effectively,” Abbott said.
Abbott again hammered Soros in a July 29 commentary for the Washington Examiner, saying that in 2016, Soros “reportedly spent nearly $11 million on a dozen local district attorney races, including one in Harris County, Texas. The vast majority of his selected candidates won when their opponents were overwhelmed by the inflow of cash and negative campaigning,” Abbott wrote.
Soros, like Abbott, didn’t respond to requests for comment. But if he is gearing up to sway Texans in state races, it looks like he’ll be doing so for the first time.
From 2000 into 2017, according to our search of campaign reports, Soros didn’t personally donate money to candidates for state office in Texas.
A Soros daughter-in-law, Jennifer Allan Soros, contributed $1,000 in 2004 to Democrat Mark Strama of Austin in his winning bid for a Texas House seat and made two 2014 donations totaling $5,000 to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis. In 2010, Andrea Soros, daughter to George, ponied up $1,500 to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White, who otherwise hauled in a $10,000 donation from Jonathan Soros, whose father is George.
Add up those Soros-connected donations and they’re chicken feed compared with the millions spent in a typical Texas governor’s race.
Texas journalist Chris Hooks pointed out in an August story for the Texas Observer that Abbott has company in warning about Soros. The story said U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz “tells his supporters that the son of the ‘notorious’ Soros has given a few thousand dollars to his opponent, fearfully offering that ‘the partnership between Beto O’Rourke and the billionaire Soros family won’t be easy to overcome,’ and adding in another email that the Soros family had gone ‘ALL IN’ on ‘knocking off Ted.’”
The Observer story says Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick “feels he’s the bigger target” of Soros, “emphasizing that he’s been made ‘Public Enemy #1’ by the Soros Machine, who is ‘putting a big spotlight on my race for re-election’ and ‘will invest millions in Texas to try to defeat me.’”
Patrick’s political consultant, Allen Blakemore, didn’t reply to our inquiries about Soros. We separately asked the Republican Party of Texas what it considers the most accurate accounting of Soros fueling Texas Democrats. Jamie Bennett said the party didn’t have information on the topic.