Leaked Soros Memo: How to Advance Obama’s Use of Executive Action

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: Soros Fund Management Chairman George Soros attends a meeting
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

NEW YORK – Just prior to the November 2014 midterm elections, George Soros’s Open Society Foundations held a board meeting at which the organization discussed how it could further the use of President Obama’s executive action authority to bypass Congress during Obama’s final two years in office.

Notably, the event featured a lunch session with Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

The details were contained in a 67-page hacked file detailing the September 29-30, 2014 Open Society U.S. Programs board meeting in New York.  The file was reviewed in full by Breitbart News.

States the document: “Confident that open society goals can be advanced despite the political forecast for the remainder of the president’s term, our grantees are actively involved in exploring the possibilities of executive action in areas of USP (Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs) concern, including racial profiling, the census, and voter registration.”

The board meeting’s minutes state outright that Soros’s organization was seeking ways to “further” the use of potential executive actions by Obama:

There are two years remaining in the Obama Administration, and it is projected by all that the anticipated results of the fall elections will make legislative accomplishments of significance nearly impossible. U.S. Programs (USP) grantees, and the OSF (Open Society Foundations) network more broadly, are thinking about how the administration can cement progress on key priorities through executive actions, while also minimizing problematic developments with long-term consequences.

Using three anchor grantees and a former senior administration official as discussants to detail their views of priorities and constraints, we will consider both the most promising substantive areas for executive action (in areas from transparency to criminal justice to wage and labor rules) as well how OSF might effectively further these.

Foundation grantees are “actively involved” in exploring the use of presidential executive actions, the document related:

Confident that open society goals can be advanced despite the political forecast for the remainder of the president’s term, our grantees are actively involved in exploring the possibilities of executive action in areas of USP concern, including racial profiling, the census, and voter registration.

The Foundations’ U.S. Programs had already begun to influence Obama’s executive action efforts, the document relates:

Whatever the outcome of next month’s elections, analysts expect continued gridlock in Congress, making any policy reforms that require legislation extremely unlikely. The President has telegraphed his determination to make progress on his priorities through administrative regulations and procedures; as he put it, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

USP has begun to influence the administration’s efforts, as evidenced by our central role in launching the philanthropic partnership to the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to promote opportunity for boys and men of color, as well as our ongoing efforts to encourage broad administrative relief to some segment of the undocumented population following the elections.

The Foundations’ memo discussed areas of possible executive action that could fundamentally impact the U.S. political system.

There are some areas of executive action that have especially long-lasting consequences (e.g., nominations) and other steps which would be critical to framing issues for the 2016 election and the next president. How do we balance the relative merits of each approach?

The document notes the public pays less attention to executive decisions during a president’s final two years, believing the president’s powers are on the decline.

“Some of the most significant achievements of the Reagan, Clinton and Bush presidencies took place in their final two years. The public may pay less attention to the Executive then, and the president’s perceived power may be on the wane, but he continues to possess the same, significant constitutional authority.”

Muñoz, who served on the Foundations’ U.S. Programs board in 2008, joined the September 2014 board meeting to “discuss the Obama administration’s approach to select issues (criminal justice, immigration) and the remainder of his term,” according to a summary provided by the hacked memo.

The possible executive actions being pushed are “sophisticated in their approaches, which range from broad and large-scale proposals to ideas more likely to fly under the radar,” the hacked file states. “Our anchor partners, in particular, are thinking about how best to leverage the last two years, during which the President will have to adjust to ‘lame duck’ status.”

The Open Society, together with partner grantees, assembled a general list of potential presidential executive actions on numerous issues, such as the following:

Voter registration, including pushing online voting:

  • Direct Health and Human Services to ensure that the federally facilitated health-care exchanges created as part of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) incorporate voter registration opportunities as required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA, or “Motor Voter Act”), and direct federal agencies to find ways to increase voter participation nationwide.
  • Issue guidance interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act with respect to accessibility of polling places, privacy when voting, and competence requirements.
  • Assist states with voter registration modernization efforts, including statewide database improvements, vote by mail, online registration and voting, and same-day registration.
  • Direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to develop new data collection points that provide greater insight into county-based Election Administration and the ways in which voters interact with election systems (i.e., number of votes cast, type of voting machines used, provisional ballot statistics, etc.)

It should be noted that in January 2014, Obama’s 10-person Presidential Commission on Election Administration released its recommendations for reforming the U.S. election process, including transitioning to voting via tablet computers and other technologies.

The commission recommended:

Software-only products can be integrated with off-the-shelf commercial hardware components such as computers, laptops, tablets, scanners, printers, and even machine-readable code scanners and signature pad products.

Tablet computers such as iPads are common components of these new technologies. They can be integrated into the check-in, voting, and verification processes in the polling place.

The commission highlighted new technologies in which the voter can “pre-fill” sample ballots at home to be scanned later at the polling place.

Obama’s presidential panel dismissed concerns about hacking. The commission stated: “The fact that a tablet or off-the-shelf computer can be hacked or can break down does not mean such technology is inherently less secure than existing ballot marking methods if proper precautions are taken.”

Meanwhile, other executive actions recommended by the Foundations include the following on judicial nominations:

  • Continue to prioritize racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of federal judicial nominees, and focus on nominating lawyers with a diverse professional background as well.
  • Encourage Senate leadership to continue to support simple majority votes for cloture on judicial nominees and a reduction in the number of debate hours on judicial nominees.
  • Reform the Senate Judiciary Committee deference to the “blue slip” procedure when there is inaction/obstruction by home-state senators that lead to lengthy delays in the nomination process.

On so-called criminal justice reform, Soros’s group drafted the following possible executive action ideas:

  • Direct the Justice Department to identify federal prisoners to whom the Fair Sentencing Act would retroactively apply, and recommend commutations for all those eligible, barring exceptional circumstances.
  • Issue an executive order to “ban the box” on federal agency job applications, except for law enforcement positions.
  • Direct the Attorney General to issue new guidance banning discriminatory law enforcement techniques.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

With research by Joshua Klein.


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