World and Nation

Reversing course, Soros to give to a pro-Obama ‘super PAC’

Billionaire George Soros is committing $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the “super PAC” supporting President Barack Obama, two people with knowledge of the matter said Thursday, a significant donation that could help spur further contributions to the group in the closing weeks of the election campaign.

A longtime political adviser to Soros, Michael Vachon, made the announced the donation at a luncheon Thursday hosted by the Democracy Alliance, said the two people, who were present. The alliance is a group of liberal donors who have already invested heavily in building grass-roots organizations and research institutes.

Soros, a retired hedge fund manager, will also give an additional $500,000 to two super PACs backing congressional Democrats. Other donors at the lunch were expected to commit between at least $10 million more to Democratic super PACs, suggesting that many — like Soros — had overcome their aversion to financing super PACs that focused only on advertising.

The gathering, which was headlined by former President Bill Clinton, suggested a rapprochement of sorts between progressive donors who have traditionally favored “movement-building” and Democratic strategists who badly want large checks to pay for the party’s emerging super PAC apparatus, which has only recently begun to draw significant financial support, much of it from traditional party sources like Hollywood, trial lawyers, and unions.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, also attended the event, reflecting the growing embrace by party officials of super PACs supporting the party. The donors and officials were gathered at the Park Avenue apartment of Donald and Shelley Rubin, New York philanthropists and Obama donors who gave $1 million to Priorities USA this month.

“Donors are no longer sitting on the sidelines,” said Susan McCue, a spokesman for Majority PAC, which supports Senate Democrats. “They see how high the stakes are on key issues and with the Supreme Court.”

While Democratic super PACs have begun to attract a growing number of donors giving six- and seven-figure checks, they remain far behind their Republican equivalents in terms of fundraising. The four top Democratic groups had together raised less through the beginning of September then Restore Our Future, which is backing Mitt Romney.

Soros’ own giving remains low compared with the biggest donors on the conservative side this cycle.