The lawyer representing Hillary Clinton’s recount efforts recently led legal battles against state voting laws with an infusion of funding from billionaire George Soros.
On Saturday, Marc Elias, the Clinton team’s general counsel, announced Clinton’s campaign would participate in Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s recount effort in Wisconsin. Elias also said the Clinton campaign would participate if Stein decides to pursue recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Elias is a senior lawyer at the Perkins Coie law firm, which also represents Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
In July, the New York Times reported Soros had pledged up to $5 million for a legal fight led by Elias against what the newspaper characterized as “restrictive voting laws enacted in recent years by Republican-controlled state governments.”
The Times further reported on Elias’ Soros-financed efforts:
Elias, who specializes in voter-protection issues, was in contact with Mr. Soros in January 2014 when Mr. Elias was exploring a series of federal lawsuits before that year’s midterm election and in advance of the 2016 campaign, according to Mr. Soros’s political adviser, Michael Vachon. (Mr. Elias declined to comment on Friday about the funding of the lawsuits.)
The goal is to try to influence voting rules in states where Republican governors and Republican-led legislatures have enacted election laws since 2010, and to be ready to intervene if additional measures are passed over the next 17 months.
At the time, Soros helped pay for two lawsuits in Ohio and Wisconsin, and the billionaire activist contributed funds for suits that, according to the Times, “Mr. Elias and several other groups filed last year in North Carolina.”
In August, the Washington Post spotlighted the Soros-funded legal work of Elias in a profile titled, “The crusade of a Democratic superlawyer with multimillion-dollar backing.” The newspaper described Elias as the “go-to lawyer for Democrats in recount fights and redistricting battles.”
The Post reported on Elias’s top benefactor:
With a multimillion-dollar commitment from liberal mega-donor George Soros, Elias is challenging laws that, he argues, diminish the impact of important Democratic Party constituencies of African Americans, Latinos and young people.
“I don’t think people should think we’re done filing lawsuits for this election cycle,” Elias said in a taxicab interview after two flights and a two-hour weather delay delivered him to Phoenix.
The Post detailed the evolution of Soros’s financial backing:
While Elias will not discuss the funding for his project, Soros’s spokesman Michael Vachon said Elias approached them with a set of proposals for challenging state restrictions that would be helpful “up and down the ballot.”
That was appealing to Soros, who began his political giving with voter mobilization efforts, Vachon said. And they agreed with Elias that there was work to be done beyond what the civil rights groups, to which Soros also contributes, were doing. …
Soros has given $5 million to the trust that funds the litigation, Vachon said, and Elias said he has picked his shots with an eye toward “protecting the Obama coalition” of African Americans, Latinos and young people.
Clinton’s direct involvement through Elias in the recount efforts follows a New York Magazine article by contributing editor Gabriel Sherman last week first revealing that Clinton’s campaign had been urged by “a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers” to call a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
“The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked,” Sherman reported.
Bonifaz is the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute (NVRI), where he also served as General Counsel.
The NRVI’s website documents it is the recipient of “generous foundation and institutional support” from 24 past and present grantors, including Soros’s Open Society Institute.
The NRVI is also funded by the Soros-funded Tides Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation, which has partnered with the Open Society Foundations on numerous projects. President Obama served as a paid board member of the Joyce Foundation for eight years from 1994 to 2002. Joyce has also been a prominent donor to the Soros-funded Media Matters For America progressive activist group.
It is worth noting that from 2012 to 2014, New York Magazine’s Sherman was the Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow at New America, a think-tank that, like the NRVI, received funding from Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the Joyce Foundation in addition to scores of other liberal groups. Another New America donor is the Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation. Jonathan is George Soros’s son.
New America describes itself as “renewing American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the Digital Age. We generate big ideas, bridge the gap between technology and policy, and curate broad public conversation.”
The recount efforts jumpstarted after Jill Stein at the last minute last Friday filed a petition for a recount in Wisconsin.
According to Politico, Stein was prompted by Sherman’s article:
Stein first set a goal to raise $2.5 million to fund a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania based off a report from New York Magazine that said prominent cybersecurity experts were urging Hillary Clinton’s campaign to contest the results there, citing suspicious results.
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