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February 17, 2005
Democrat's Main Money Man Funded Lynne Stewart Defense

Yesterday, New York state GOP chairman Steven Minarik made a stupid remark about the Democrats being the party of "Barbara Boxer, Lynne Stewart and Howard Dean,", as if the entire party could be characterized by the recently convicted terrorist abetter Stewart, who passed operational messages from Sheikh Abdel Rahman to his followers. DNC chair Howard Dean called on Minarik to apologize or resign, and Gov. George Pataki rightfully called Minarik's remarks outside the "realm of appropriate political discourse."

However, National Review's Byron York reveals today that the main money man for the Democrats in last year's election cycle, George Soros, partially funded Lynne Stewart's criminal defense, raising questions of propriety and political damage to the candidates Soros once backed:

Billionaire financier George Soros, whose opposition to President Bush's conduct of the war on terror caused him to pour millions of dollars into the effort to defeat the president, made a substantial donation to the defense fund for radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, who last week was found guilty of giving aid to Islamic terrorists.

According to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Soros's foundation, the Open Society Institute, or OSI, gave $20,000 in September 2002 to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee.

In filings with the IRS, foundation officials wrote that the purpose of the contribution was "to conduct a public education campaign around the broad civil rights implications of Lynne Stewart's indictment."

Answering questions by e-mail, Amy Weil, a spokeswoman for the Open Society Institute, said the foundation contributed to Stewart's fund because "it appeared to us at that time that there was a right-to-counsel issue worthy of our support."

That money was needed to conduct the political campaign Stewart waged to pressure the Department of Justice to drop the case, which the Left turned into yet another of its causes. Some of the money also underwrote the defense itself, Weil admitted, although after a while OSI quit donating cash to the effort.

At the start of the election campaign in 2003, Soros pledged millions of dollars to do whatever it took to get George Bush out of the White House. His foundations and his direct donations benefitted Howard Dean to start, through funding of MoveOn, Americans Coming Together, and direct funding. He then backed John Kerry as well as other 527s to manuever around campaign-financing limits, and wound up reportedly spending over $25 million by the end of the election. It's fair to characterize Soros as the single most important contributor to the Democratic effort in 2004, and all signs point towards his continued kingmaking for future campaigns.

His support of a convicted terrorist enabler, however, may well wind up making his largesse more of a liability than an asset for a political party already seen as fatally soft on terror. How will Howard Dean make the case to the American people that the Democrats can keep the country safe when his majority stockholder fights to keep terrorists and their messengers out of prison and on television, giving orders out to the lunatics via talk-show interviews? Will Hillary be able to keep Soros out of her pocketbook for the Senate run in 2006, let alone 2008? George Soros just handed the GOP a big stick with which to beat the Democrats, and inadvertently gave Steven Minarik some undeserved political cover.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 17, 2005 1:11 PM

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Here we go again. The Grey Lady is making the assertion that it is somehow OK for lawyers of criminals to help their clients in criminal activity (reg. required)The conviction of Lynne F. Stewart for providing material aid to terrorism [Read More]

Tracked on February 17, 2005 5:37 PM

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