Soros political committee pours cash into Philly DA’s race

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 Criminal defense lawyer and candidate for Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner will benefit from outside spending in the race. A political committee associated with liberal billionaire George Soros is buying TV ads to support him in the seven-candidate race for the Democratic nomination. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Criminal defense lawyer and candidate for Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner will benefit from outside spending in the race. A political committee associated with liberal billionaire George Soros is buying TV ads to support him in the seven-candidate race for the Democratic nomination. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A political committee associated with liberal billionaire George Soros is buying TV ads to support Philadelphia district attorney candidate Larry Krasner.

Philadelphia has contribution limits for political candidates, but U.S. Supreme Court decisions — including Citizens United — permit outside groups to spend whatever they want to support a candidate, as long as they don’t coordinate their efforts.

Soros has been funding progressive candidates for district attorney around the country, and a new political committee associated with the billionaire has bought about $280,000 worth of TV ad time to support Krasner, according to two sources familiar with the ad buy.

Krasner, a civil rights attorney who’s represented protesters for years, has been endorsed by several progressive organizations.

The new political committee, called Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety, is based in Washington, according to the committee’s filing with the city election board.

It’s registered at the same address as Soros’ national committee that funds progressive prosecutor candidates. In an email Tuesday night, its treasurer, Whitney Tymas  said, “Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety is supporting Larry Krasner for district attorney because of his commitment to public safety and criminal justice reform.”

The ad buy is for one week; it’s more than 10 times what a committee could legally give to Krasner or any other candidate in a full year under the city’s contribution limits.

Krasner is one of seven candidates in the May 16 Democratic primary.

Rich Garella, a spokesman for Krasner’s campaign, said in a brief interview there has been no coordination between the campaign and Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety.

“Larry enjoys the support of a broad coalition of local and national progressive organizations,” Garella said.If the group keeps spending for Krasner at this pace, it would amount to $840,000 by Election Day.

The other big spender in the DA’s race is attorney and real estate developer Michael Untermeyer, who’s put $550,000 of his own money into his campaign. Candidate contributions are not subject to campaign finance limits.

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