A leaked 2009 document marked “classified” from George Soros’ Open Society Institute calls the Obama presidency a “make or break” moment for “transformative change” in immigration reform, “racial justice,” and a myriad of other issues.
“We are living in a ‘make or break’ moment for building open society in America. There is no need to wax eloquent about why. The factors were not all in play even just a year ago,” Ann Beeson and Bill Vanderberg wrote in a document titled “Special Funding to Seize This Transformative Moment.”
Beeson is the former executive director of U.S. programs at the Open Society Foundations and is currently the executive director for The Center for Public Policy Priorities. Vandenburg is the program director for U.S. special initiatives and partnerships at the Open Society Foundations.
The”hacktivist” group DCLeaks released over 2000 files from Open Society Foundations and other Soros groups Saturday.
Beeson and Vandenberg wrote: “the abuses of the prior Administration began the wake up call. Obama raised the pitch by running – and winning – on a platform of transformative change. The global economic crisis then elevated the risks and opportunities for building a better society. There is now a perfect storm for real change. What is OSI’s role in this moment?”
The document states that OSI provide up to $10 million for projects. OSI now goes by the Open Society Foundations and was founded by Soros. It has a budget of $930.7 million in 2016.
“Without additional funds, many organizations and leaders will lack the capacity to take advantage of this historic moment, and the perfect storm may pass with no real change in its wake,” Beeson and Vandenberg wrote in the February 2009 memo.
The U.S programs division of OSI wanted “special funding” to four different areas. These are:
Advance the most challenging issues – including mass incarceration, immigration, drug policy, and structural inequality – as part of the transformative national agenda.
Ensure transparency, accountability and equity in the development and implementation of economic recovery plans
Increase public participation in policy reform efforts by those most impacted, including people of color, immigrant, and low-income communities
Integrate recent innovations in organizing and technology into more organizations and movements.
The memo then goes on to list organizations that should receive grants to achieve each of these goals. To push for criminal justice reform, the OSI said the Council of State Governments and the Justice Mapping Center among other groups should get support. “We could expand support for model reentry programs that provide training for former prisoners, such as a newly forming national Clean Energy Corps and the National Service Corps,” the memo states.
Beeson and Vendenberg wrote, “OSI should provide funding to strengthen the capacity of national groups focused on specific issues – racial justice, LGBT equality, women’s rights, and immigrants’ rights – to develop an over-arching equality agenda.” A group they identify as being able to take a “lead role in this effort” is the National Council of La Raza.
The memo states that a successful agenda “cannot be a typical liberal issue ‘laundry list.’” “If done thoughtfully, such an effort could build a left/ right coalition utilizing ‘common good’ or ‘shared fate’ framing.”
The OSI document also calls for funding in government transparency groups and organizations that encourage government spending towards programs that benefit minorities and previously incarcerated individuals.
The effort discussed in the memo rises up out of something referred to as “Unity 2009.” “In December and January, we also began discussions about an emerging table of organizations committed to supporting a new, large scale economic recovery policy campaign – a ‘new new deal.’ This effort is now called Unity 09.”
“The structure of the [Unity 2009] effort has changed significantly since we last discussed it, largely due to concerns raised by USP’s staff and General Counsel,” the memo states. It goes on to say that Unity 09 “will not be a new organization” but instead consist of various non-profits that collaborate.
“The initial Unity 2009 convening in DC included thirty-five organizational leaders. Several OSI grantees participated, including the Center for American Progress, Center for Community Change, National Council of La Raza, National Immigration Forum, and State Voices,” Beeson and Vandenberg wrote. “Beyond these groups, however, Unity 2009 lacks inclusion of people of color, immigrant, student, and faith community organizations.”
The memo points to John Podesta and Andy Stern as leaders in the Unity 2009 effort. It states that both “are well-connected with the new Administration and on the Hill.”
Stern is the former president of the Service Employees International Union and a current senior fellow at Columbia University. Podesta served as Counselor to President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff to former President Bill Clinton. He is currently Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.