Person

Michael Vachon

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Spokesman and Chair, Soros Management Fund

Political Consultant

Professor

Michael Vachon serves as a spokesman for billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros and as Chairman of the Soros Management Fund.[1] He is active on the boards of left-of-center enterprises with ties to Soros and his Open Society Foundations (OSF), including NYC Partners, the Democracy Alliance, and Catalist. Vachon also teaches International and Public Affairs as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs (SIPA).[2]

Education and Early Career

Vachon graduated in 1991 with an MA in International Relations from SIPA.[3][4] He worked as a financial journalist before serving as director of communications at the Commonwealth Fund where he also served on the Fund’s executive committee.[5]

Soros Spokesman

Vachon later served as the director of communications for both the Open Society Institute (now Open Society Foundations) and the Soros Foundation Network (SFN). He later moved to the position of spokesman and personal advisor to Soros.[6] In addition to media relations and advising Soros on politics, Vachon often performs the duties of chief of staff to Soros,[7] and serves as a liaison between Soros and Democratic political operatives and OSF-funded nonprofits.[8]

For instance, Vachon has often relayed Soros’s wishes on policy to Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP) founder John Podesta, who also served as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign Chairman.[9]

Vachon has vigorously defended his Soros’s reputation and motives and expressed quite openly the left-of-center goals that drive them. In 2014, he candidly told Forbes that Soros had given about $25 million “focused on reforming marijuana laws specifically, including decriminalization, medical marijuana use and full-blown legalization.”[10]

Vachon has echoed Soros’s belief that the United States needs campaign speech regulation to limit involvement by wealthy business  interests but defends Soros’s giving tens of millions of dollars to influence politics.[11] Vachon has argued that “independent” expenditures on behalf of right-of-center campaigns will always be too great because the funds are coming from those who are acting in their economic self-interest.”[12] The tens of millions of dollars that Soros spends toward political campaigns, he argues, serve “the common interest.”[13]

Vachon told the Washington Post that Soros gave $5 million to a trust that supports litigation against state voting laws that inconvenience traditional Democratic voters. Democratic lawyer Marc E. Elias initially approached Soros with the idea of funding these challenges to help “up and down the ballot.” Vachon noted that Soros liked the idea and recognized the need to fund partisan efforts to challenge these laws, as opposed to simply funding non-partisan efforts to ease voting restrictions. Elias put Soros’s donation to use “protecting the Obama coalition.”[14]

Additional Political Involvement

Vachon serves or has served on the boards of several left-of-center nonprofits, including Soros’s left-wing economic think tank, the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET); NYC Partners; and the Democracy Alliance. He also serves on the Board of Managers of the for-profit data company Catalist.[15] [16] [17] [18]

Vachon’s reported position on the board of Democracy Alliance would allow him to serve as the “eyes and ears” of his boss in the powerful alliance of liberal donors.[19] Soros helped form this association after sinking nearly $30 million into Democrat John Kerry’s failed 2004 presidential campaign. The Alliance operates as an exclusive club in which members agree to dedicate at least $200,000 per year to left-of-center causes.[20] [21]

Vachon’s Board of Directors seat at Catalist provides him meaningful influence over one of the premier data firms that services left-of-center nonprofits and political campaigns. Catalist “compiles, enhances, stores, and dynamically updates data on over 240 million unique voting-age individuals across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” Like Democracy Alliance, this enterprise sprang from the Democratic Party’s 2004 presidential defeat. In 2014, the Alliance set Catalist a baseline funding level of $500,000, with a target of $750,000.[22]

In 2015, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Vachon to the Board of Directors of his NYC Partners. NYC Partners seeks to form partnerships between municipalities for de Blasio’s “local-to-global equity agenda,” to advance left-wing issues like income inequality and climate change.[23] OSF Vice President Patrick Gaspard gave the introduction to de Blasio’s keynote address at NYC Partners 2017 Mayors’ Summit on Migration and Refugee Policy and Practice, which NYC Partners hosted in partnership with OSF.[24]

References

  1. “Company Overview of Catalist LLC.” Bloomberg. March 27, 2018. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=282351410&privcapId=50279638&previousCapId=50279638&previousTitle=Catalist%20LLC.
  2. Faculty Directory. Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://sipa.columbia.edu/faculty-research/faculty-directory/michael-vachon.
  3. Faculty Directory. Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.
  4. Michael Vachon. LinkedIn. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-vachon-14b2586/.

  5. Faculty Directory. Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.
  6. McMorris, Bill. “Michael Vachon: The Consigliere, George Soros’ right hand man sits on the board of shadowy liberal group.” Washington Free Beacon. September 12, 2012. Accessed March 26, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/democracy-alliance/michael-vachon-the-consigliere/.
  7. Faculty Directory. Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://sipa.columbia.edu/faculty-research/faculty-directory/michael-vachon.
  8. “WikiLeaks Reveals How Billionaire ‘Progressives’ Run The Democratic Party.” Investor’s Business Daily. November 2, 2016. Accessed April 3, 2018. https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/wikileaks-reveals-the-billionaire-progressives-that-run-the-democratic-party/
  9. “’Make Soros happy’: Inside Clinton team’s mission to please billionaire VIP.” Fox News. October 27, 2017. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/10/27/make-soros-happy-inside-clinton-teams-mission-to-please-billionaire-vip.html.
  10. Chloe Sorvino. “An Inside Look At The Biggest Drug Reformer In The Country: George Soros.” Forbes. October 2, 2014. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2014/10/02/an-inside-look-at-the-biggest-drug-reformer-in-the-country-george-soros/#1678e4c21e29.
  11. York, Byron. The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of the Democrats’ Desperate Fight to Reclaim Power. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2005.
  12. McChesney, Robert and Victor Pickard, ed. Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It. New York: The New Press, 2011.
  13. York, Byron. The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of the Democrats’ Desperate Fight to Reclaim Power. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2005.
  14. Barnes, Robert. “The Crusade of a Democratic Superlawyer with Multimillion-Dollar Backing.” The Washington Post. August 7, 2016. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/the-crusade-of-a-democratic-super-lawyer-with-multimillion-dollar-backing/2016/08/07/2c1b408c-5a54-11e6-9767-f6c947fd0cb8_story.html?utm_term=.4168b4e925a3.
  15. “Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).” Influence Watch. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/institute-for-new-economic-thinking/.
  16. “Mayor de Blasio Names Board of Directors of NYC Global Partners.” Official Website of the City of New York. May 7, 2015. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/296-15/mayor-de-blasio-names-board-directors-nyc-global-partners.
  17. “Democracy Alliance.” Influence Watch. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/organization/democracy-alliance-da/.
  18. Catalist Board of Managers. Catalist. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.catalist.us/about/board-managers/.
  19. McMorris, Bill. “Michael Vachon: The Consigliere, George Soros’ right hand man sits on the board of shadowy liberal group.” Washington Free Beacon. September 12, 2012. Accessed March 26, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/democracy-alliance/michael-vachon-the-consigliere/.
  20. “George Soros.” Influence Watch. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/person/george-soros/.
  21. Democracy Alliance. Influence Watch. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/organization/democracy-alliance-da/.
  22. Catalist. Influence Watch. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.influencewatch.org/for-profit/catalist/.
  23. “Mayor de Blasio Names Board of Directors of NYC Global Partners.” Official Website of the City of New York. May 7, 2015. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/296-15/mayor-de-blasio-names-board-directors-nyc-global-partners.

  24. “New York City Global Mayors Summit on migration and refugee policy and practice 18-19 September 2017: Hosted by the City of New York In Partnership with the Open Society Foundations, Concordia and Columbia University’s Global Policy Initiative.” Global Policy Initiative: Columbia University. Accessed March 27, 2018. http://globalpolicy.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/gms_18sep2017.pdf.
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