Is George Soros bankrolling the Black Lives Matter movement? Did he give $33m to the movement? As The Daily Beast reports (1), many right wing blogs, social media pages and groups and even Fox News seem to believe so. In July Bill O’Reilly on his hugely popular show, The O’Reilly Factor, made similar allegations and since then the rumor has gained a lot of currency in conservative circles.
Could the allegations be true? Is George Soros funding the movement through his Open Society Foundation? First, it is a known fact that through his Open Society Foundation, George Soros has bankrolled numerous organizations that advance causes that are dear to him in more than 100 countries (2). Most of these causes, like support for education of the underprivileged, integration of minority groups like the Roma people in Europe or support for pro-democracy groups in countries such as Russia are deeply rooted in his own identity and personal experiences. Born in Hungary in 1930 and raised at a time of economic and political turmoil in Europe, Soros survived the Holocaust during World War 2 and escaped communism in Hungary to England for his university education before moving to the US where he has amassed a fortune of around $24 billion from his work as one of the most successful hedge fund managers in history (3). This huge fortune has enabled him to not only give generously to charities he supports but also become an influential political activist.
In the US, most of his political activism has been in support of liberal causes. This has earned him the wrath of many right wing activists and groups. These activists and groups have no love not only for George Soros but for the Black Lives Matter movement and its tactics as well. Starting as a simple hashtag to express anger over the killing of an unarmed black teenager, the movement has moved from twitter to lectures, local organizations and protest groups. The disruption of political rallies of presidential candidates by some of these protest groups has particularly angered many right wing activists and opinion leaders who feel the protests have become a political tool of Hillary Clinton and his most prominent financial backer, George Soros.
As Ken Zimmerman, the head of Open Society Foundation’s US programs confirms, Soros financially supports many groups that address the central issue of Black Lives Matter movement- police brutality against blacks. However, there is no evidence that Soros ever donated $33m directly to the movement. According to the foundations 2014 financial records, the $33m it spent in the US in 2014 was distributed to many groups promoting social justice issues. Black Lives Matter is not among the groups that were funded. In any case, as Zimmerman argues, even if they wanted to, funding Black Lives Matter is almost impossible because it lacks centralized structures to make such funding possible.
These facts make the allegation that Soros bankrolls the Black Lives Matter movement untrue. Open Society Foundation’s financial records show that to be the case and even if Soros wanted to, the Black Lives Matter movement is so amorphous that such funding is not possible.