Non-profit

Fund for Policy Reform

Location:

New York, NY

Tax ID:

26-4351242

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $100,000,000
Expenses: $61,993,114
Assets: $55,419,398

Formation:

2009

President:

Patrick Gaspard

Filings:

2018 Form 990

The Fund for Policy Reform is a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization founded and funded by left-of-center megadonor George Soros within his Open Society Foundations network of groups. The Fund for Policy Reform provides grants to left-of-center organizations, most notably in drug policy, criminal justice, and election administration policy, in addition to providing general support for left-of-center organizations and causes.

The Fund for Policy Reform Trust is the “sister” nonprofit for the Fund for Policy Reform and acts as its clearinghouse. Other major organizations funded by George Soros include the Open Society Foundations and Foundation to Promote Open Society.

Background

The Fund for Policy Reform was founded in 2009 and established through a $100 million donation by left-of-center billionaire and Democratic donor George Soros. [1] Though the Fund for Policy Reform began with a focus on supporting left-of-center environmentalist advocacy, the Fund is now active in public welfare, opposition to capitalism, criminal justice reform, and drug policy. [2]

The Fund for Policy Reform is part of Soros’s Open Society Foundations, a network of left-of-center foundations which comprise one of the largest left-of-center funding networks in the world, distributing almost $1 billion per year to left-wing organizations around the world. [3]

Activism

The Fund for Policy Reform is a 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofit lobbying and advocacy organization which supports of left-of-center policy in the United States and around the world, giving grants to various nonprofits to advance a progressive agenda. Though younger than the rest of the Soros-backed Open Society Foundations, the Fund has made a substantial impact in drug policy, criminal justice, and left-of-center electoral reform.

In 2017, the Fund for Policy Reform gave its largest grant to the Open Society Policy Center, totaling $16,759,566 in 2017 alone. [4] The Open Society Policy Center engages in direct left-of-center lobbying on issues ranging from criminal justice to tax policy at the federal level, associated with the Open Society Foundations. [5] The Open Society Policy Center also gives grants to other lobbying organizations, including the Democratic Party establishment-aligned Center for American Progress Action Fund, the left-wing Center for Community Change Action, and left-of-center dark money organization NEO Philanthropy. [6]

In 2017, the Fund gave a $10,000,000 grant to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which pushes to federally expand access to abortion. [7]

Voting and Electoral Policy

The Fund for Policy Reform has given substantial funding to voter mobilization efforts and electoral reform. In 2017, the Fund gave $1,000,000 to America Votes, which brands itself as the “coordination hub of the progressive community.” [8] [9] America Votes aims to flip key swing states in favor of Democratic candidates. [10]

In 2017, the Fund gave a $500,000 grant to the Democracy Integrity Project (TDIP), a Soros-funded organization which claims to investigate foreign interference in American elections. [11] TDIP endorses claims that Russia substantially manipulated the 2016 American presidential election, sending daily news briefs to media outlets across the country in an attempt to spread a narrative of election interference. [12] Though TDIP is ostensibly nonpartisan,  Dan Jones, a former Clinton administration volunteer and top staffer to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), incorporated the organization just 11 days after President Donald Trump took office. [13]

Campaign for One New York

Fund for Policy Reform donated $250,000 to the Campaign for One New York (CfONY), a controversial advocacy group aligned with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) in 2015. [14] In January 2015, Michael Vachon, one of Soros’s advisers, invited de Blasio to speak at the Democracy Alliance Conference in Chicago to a group of major liberal donors. [15] In response to the invitation, one of de Blasio’s consultants encouraged de Blasio to accept the invitation because “Vachon = Soros.” [16] De Blasio went on to deliver the keynote address.

CfONY was a source of controversy for its operations. De Blasio hired several outside political consultants while serving as mayor, whose salaries were funded by private interest groups, causing uproar over conflicts of interest between the consultants’ firms, who often worked with large special interest groups, and those of the public office. [17] The consultants were paid nearly $2.3 million in the first year and a half of De Blasio’s term, with most of the money coming from the “Campaign for One New York,” a nonprofit created by political professionals from de Blasio’s campaign to push his initiatives. [18]

Because the Campaign for One New York is technically a nonprofit, there is no limit to the amount of funds it can accept from donors, and as such was criticized as a dark money campaign to get around campaign finance regulations and allow special interest groups to buy off the New York City government. [19]

Drug Policy

The Fund for Policy Reform was one of the major donors behind the legalization of recreational marijuana in California in 2016, giving $1.97 million to the Open Society campaign committee, which passed it on to Drug Policy Action, an Oakland-based left-of-center drug advocacy organization. [20] The Fund also gave a $9.5 million grant to Drug Policy Action to support its action in pushing left-of-center drug policy in 2014. [21]

In 2016, Drug Policy Action launched a $4.7 million campaign to pass Proposition 64, a statewide measure to legalize recreational marijuana. [22] Nearly $4 million of that total budget came from the Fund for Policy Reform. [23] Moreover, the Fund for Policy Reform directly donated $6,140,000 to the measure. [24]

The Fund for Policy Reform’s donation was challenged by Democratic consultant Andrew Acosta, who led the campaign to defeat Proposition 64. [25] Drug Policy Action funded the Yes-on-64 campaign. Acosta and his attorneys argued that because Drug Policy Action was funded by a Soros-funded organization, then if Soros is the source of the $4 million, California laws would be triggered which would require that he be identified in all ads as one of the major funders of the measure. [26]

Criminal Justice

In 2017, the Fund for Policy Reform gave its second-largest donation to the left-of-center American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), totaling $13,750,000 in 2017 alone. [27] The Fund further granted $200,000 to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals while also giving a total of $590,867 to local police associations in New Jersey, Texas, California, and Massachusetts. [28]

California Ballot Measures

In 2016, the Fund for Policy Reform led the charge to abolish capital punishment in California through Proposition 62, leading a $16 million campaign which, if successful, would end the death penalty in the state. Proposition 62 failed, upholding capital punishment, while Proposition 66, which expedited the execution process and was opposed by the Fund, passed in 2016. [29]

In 2016, the Fund also contributed to the campaign for Proposition 57, which would allow parole consideration for people convicted of nonviolent felonies once the prison term for the primary offense has been completed, allow sentence credits for good behavior or educational achievements, and allow juvenile judges to determine whether juveniles aged 14 or older should be prosecuted and sentenced as adults. [30] [31] The measure passed with the support of the Fund in 2016.

Today, Proposition 57 faces massive criticism, in that it did not exempt sex offenders from the requirements for parole consideration. California, as a result of the proposition supported by the Fund for Policy Reform, must now consider thousands of sex offenders for early parole, including those who were convicted of pimping children. [32]

International Grantmaking

In addition to domestic policy, the Fund for Policy Reform has provided substantial international grants to promote left-of-center policy abroad. Most of the international funding in 2017 went to Europe, with grants totaling $12,086,117. [33]

The Fund for Policy Reform also provided $548,010 in South America in order to “strengthen democracy,” offered $247,879 in grants to Sub-Saharan Africa, and gave $570,000 total in grants to South Asia. [34]

Leadership

Founder

George Soros is the founder and board chairman of the Fund for Policy Reform. Soros is the founder of the Open Society Foundations, a private grantmaking foundation closely affiliated with the Fund for Policy Reform. [35] The Open Society Foundations has provided grant funding for projects supporting left-of-center democracy in 120 different countries, distributing $15.2 billion since 1984. [36]

President

Patrick Gaspard is the president of the Open Society Foundations and its affiliates, including the Fund for Policy Reform. [37] Gaspard is the former United States ambassador to South Africa, but he also has significant ties to the American political left. [38] Gaspard began his career as a New York City union organizer, serving as national political director for the massive left-of-center Service Employees International Union (SEIU). [39] Gaspard then went on to join Democratic politics directly, serving as the Obama White House director of political affairs, the director of the Democratic National Committee, and the national director of Obama for America (now Organizing for America) during the 2008 presidential election. In 2018, Gaspard reported total compensation of $939,600 from all Soros groups. [40]

Christopher Stone, the former president of the Fund, is a professor at Harvard University and former director of the left-of-center Vera Institute for Justice. [41]

Board of Directors

In 2018, the Fund for Policy Reform’s board of directors included the following individuals: [42]

  • Patrick Gaspard: President (Total Compensation: $939,600)
  • George Soros (board chairman)
  • Jonathan Soros (until Sept. 5, 2018; son of George Soros)
  • Alexander Soros (son of George Soros)
  • Andrea Soros Colombel (daughter of George Soros)
  • Pierre Mirabaud: Chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association and a prominent investor [43] [44]
  • Ethan Zuckerman (until Oct. 3, 2018)
  • Maija Arbolino (board treasurer; Total Compensation: $458,738)
  • Gail Scovell (board secretary; Total Compensation: $499,560)

Staff

The highest-paid employees of the Funder for Policy Reform in 2018 were: [45]

  • Auro Sean Nicholas Fraser: Program Officer (Total Compensation: $116,744)
  • Angelica Prieto Maria Zamora: Program Officer: (Total Compensation: $116,744)
  • Nicolas Hernandez Gonzalez: Program Officer: (Total Compensation: $116,744)

Funding

The Fund for Policy Reform was funded entirely by George Soros in 2009, when he gave $100 million to establish the Fund for Policy Reform directly to support the Climate Policy Initiative. [46]

Financial Overview

The Fund for Policy Reform is a 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofit created to lobby on certain policies.

The Fund for Policy Reform has a single donor: the Fund for Policy Reform Trust, another Soros-affiliated 501(c)(4) nonprofit that acts as a financial clearinghouse for the Fund for Policy Reform, its sole grant recipient. In 2017, the Fund reported $100 million in revenues. That figure grew by 7.5 times in 2018 to $750 million, all of which came from the Fund for Policy Reform Trust. [47] [48] In 2018, the Fund’s total expenditures were $142.6 million, its net assets were $607.4 million, and it made $136 million in grants to other organizations. [49]

Donors to Fund for Policy Reform

The IRS does not require 501(c)(4) nonprofits to disclose their donors, only the amounts of their donations and which groups they make grants to.

In 2018, Fund for Policy Reform indicated a single donor who gifted the nonprofit $750 million. [50] That $750 million came from the Fund for Policy Reform Trust, a related 501(c)(4) nonprofit. [51]

Grants from Fund for Policy Reform

In 2018, Fund for Policy Reform paid out $136 million in grants to other organizations. The following are notable grant recipients in 2018: [52]

Financial Documents

The 2018 IRS Form 990 filing for Fund for Policy Reform was obtained by the Capital Research Center in March 2020 and is available here.

References

  1. Taub, Stephen. “More Hedge Fund Managers Join ‘Giving Pledge’.” Institutional Investor.

    Institutional Investor, October 3, 2017. https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b150qf3k33xzfb/more-hedge-fund-managers-join-giving-pledge. ^

  2. Taub, Stephen. “More Hedge Fund Managers Join ‘Giving Pledge’.” Institutional Investor, October 3, 2017. https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b150qf3k33xzfb/more-hedge-fund-managers-join-giving-pledge. ^
  3. Soros, George. “The Capitalist Threat.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, May 9, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1997/02/the-capitalist-threat/376773/. ^
  4. “Fund for Policy Reform.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2017. Part II, Line 1. ^
  5. “OSPC Summary of Lobbying Activities: 2017, Fourth Quarter.” Open Society Policy Center,

    May 9, 2018. https://opensocietypolicycenter.org/reporting/ospc-summary-of-lobbying-activities-2017-fourth-quarter/. ^

  6. “OSPC Summary of Lobbying Activities: 2017, Fourth Quarter.” Open Society Policy Center, May 9, 2018. https://opensocietypolicycenter.org/reporting/ospc-summary-of-lobbying-activities-2017-fourth-quarter/. ^
  7. Fund for Policy Reform, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Schedule I. ^
  8. “Fund for Policy Reform.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2017. Part II, Line 8. ^
  9. “America Votes.” America Votes, August 4, 2019. https://americavotes.org/. ^
  10. “America Votes.” America Votes, August 4, 2019. https://americavotes.org/. ^
  11. Sperry, Paul. “Soros-Funded Media Echo Chamber Pushes Impeachment.” The Federalist,

    March 25, 2019. https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/21/soros-funded-pr-shop-constructing-media-echo-chamber-push-impeachment/. ^

  12. Sperry, Paul. “Soros-Funded Media Echo Chamber Pushes Impeachment.” The Federalist,

    March 25, 2019. https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/21/soros-funded-pr-shop-constructing-media-echo-chamber-push-impeachment/. ^

  13. Sperry, Paul. “Soros-Funded Media Echo Chamber Pushes Impeachment.” The Federalist, March 25, 2019. https://thefederalist.com/2019/03/21/soros-funded-pr-shop-constructing-media-echo-chamber-push-impeachment/. ^
  14. Kaplan, Thomas. “Mayor De Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private Consultants Help Shape City Hall.” The New York Times. The New York Times, November 4, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-hired-guns-private-consultants-help-shape-city-hall.html. ^
  15. Kaplan, Thomas. “Mayor De Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private Consultants Help Shape City Hall.” The New York Times. The New York Times, November 4, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-hired-guns-private-consultants-help-shape-city-hall.html. ^
  16. Kaplan, Thomas. “Mayor De Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private Consultants Help Shape City Hall.” The New York Times. The New York Times, November 4, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-hired-guns-private-consultants-help-shape-city-hall.html. ^
  17. Kaplan, Thomas. “Mayor De Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private Consultants Help Shape City Hall.”

    The New York Times. The New York Times, November 4, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-hired-guns-private-consultants-help-shape-city-hall.html. ^

  18. Kaplan, Thomas. “Mayor De Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private Consultants Help Shape City Hall.”

    The New York Times. The New York Times, November 4, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-hired-guns-private-consultants-help-shape-city-hall.html ^

  19. Fermino, Jennifer. “De Blasio Raises $1.5M for Political Nonprofit, with Cash Coming from

    Rich Donors with City Hall Business.” nydailynews.com. New York Daily News, April 9, 2018. https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-raises-1-5m-political-nonprofit-article-1.2295247. ^

  20. Cadelago, Christopher, and Jim Miller. “Money and Marijuana: Donors with Ties to Industry Give to Legalize Pot.” sacbee. The Sacramento Bee, August 26, 2016. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article97932817.html. ^
  21. Cadelago, Christopher, and Jim Miller. “Money and Marijuana: Donors with Ties to Industry Give to Legalize Pot.” sacbee. The Sacramento Bee, August 26, 2016. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article97932817.html. ^
  22. Morain, Dan. “Shedding Some Light on Dark Money in Yes-on-64 Campaign.” sacbee. The Sacramento Bee, October 8, 2016. https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/dan-morain/article107006332.html. ^
  23. Morain, Dan. “Shedding Some Light on Dark Money in Yes-on-64 Campaign.” sacbee. The Sacramento Bee, October 8, 2016. https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/dan-morain/article107006332.html. ^
  24. “Proposition 64 – Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute.” California Secretary of State. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.sos.ca.gov/campaign-lobbying/cal-access-resources/measure-contributions/marijuana-legalization-initiative-statute/. ^
  25. Morain, Dan. “Shedding Some Light on Dark Money in Yes-on-64 Campaign.” sacbee. The Sacramento Bee, October 8, 2016. https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/dan-morain/article107006332.html. ^
  26. Morain, Dan. “Shedding Some Light on Dark Money in Yes-on-64 Campaign.” sacbee. The Sacramento Bee, October 8, 2016. https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/dan-morain/article107006332.html. ^
  27. “Fund for Policy Reform.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2017. Part II, Line 4. ^
  28. “Fund for Policy Reform.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2017. Part II. ^
  29. Shafer, Scott. “California’s Death Penalty Survives Vote, Get Streamlined.” KQED News, November 9, 2016. https://www.kqed.org/news/11159910/californias-death-penalty-on-track-to-survive-vote-get-streamlined. ^
  30. “Proposition 57.” FollowTheMoney.org. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=40814637. ^
  31. “Fund for Policy Reform.” FollowTheMoney.org. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=42085295&default=contributor. ^
  32. “California Must Consider Earlier Parole for Sex Offenders, Judge Rules.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2018. https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-sex-offenders-20180209-story.html. ^
  33. “Fund for Policy Reform.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2017. Schedule F, Part I, Line 1. ^
  34. “Fund for Policy Reform.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2017. Schedule F, Part I, Lines 2-4. ^
  35. “George Soros.” georgesoros.com, 2019. https://www.georgesoros.com/. ^
  36. “Open Society Foundations.” Open Society Foundations, 2019. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/. ^
  37. “Patrick Gaspard.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/who-we-are/staff/patrick-gaspard. ^
  38. “Patrick Gaspard.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/who-we-are/staff/patrick-gaspard. ^
  39. “Patrick Gaspard.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed October 28, 2019. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/who-we-are/staff/patrick-gaspard. ^
  40. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform. 2018. Part VII. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  41. “Christopher Stone Selected to Lead Open Society Foundations.” Open Society Foundations, December 7, 2011. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/newsroom/christopher-stone-selected-lead-open-society-foundations ^
  42. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform. 2018. Part VII. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  43. “Pierre Mirabaud.” The Hedge Fund Journal, 2019. https://thehedgefundjournal.com/pierre-mirabaud/. ^
  44. “Fund for Policy Reform.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2017. Part VII, Section A. ^
  45. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform. 2018. Part VII. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  46. Di Mento, Maria. “Soros Pledges $100-Million to Human-Rights Group.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 7, 2010. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/Soros-Pledges-100-Million-to/159989. ^
  47. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform. 2018. Part I. Lines 12, 13, 18, 22. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  48. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform Trust. 2018. Schedule I. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-Trust-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  49. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform. 2018. Schedule B (redacted) Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  50. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform. 2018. Part I. Lines 12, 13, 18, 22. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  51. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform Trust. 2018. Schedule I. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-Trust-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  52. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Fund for Policy Reform. 2018. Part I: Line 13. Schedule I. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/Fund-for-Policy-Reform-2018-Form-990.pdf ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Christopher Stone
    Former President
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2009

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $100,000,000 $61,993,114 $55,419,398 $24,690,546 N $100,000,000 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $30,200,000 $18,881,992 $12,850,074 $20,128,108 N $30,200,000 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $38,887,118 $1,437,973,977 $12,718,156 $495,923 N $17,500,000 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $9,447,896 $19,626,896 $1,453,399,059 $21,343 N $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $-2,099,749 $19,532,251 $919,773,192 $16,215 N $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $-3,282,483 $16,224,900 $539,406,071 $28,219 N $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $4,377,720 $9,275,761 $501,558,543 $45,460 N $5,000,000 $0 $5 $0 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $501,144 $7,834,899 $59,327,040 $35,049,364 N $0 $0 $501,144 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Fund for Policy Reform

    224 W 57TH ST
    New York, NY 10019-3212