By James Harding in Washington
Published: January 12 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 12 2005 02:00
A group of billionaire philanthropists is to donate tens of millions more dollars to develop progressive political ideas in the US in an effort to counter the conservative ascendancy.
George Soros, who made his fortune in the hedge fund industry; Herb and Marion Sandler, the California couple who own a multi-billion dollar savings and loan business and Peter Lewis, the publicity-shy chairman of an Ohio insurance company, gave more than $63m in the 2004 election cycle to organisations seeking to defeat George W. Bush.
The left-leaning billionaires agreed, at a meeting in San Francisco last month, to commit a larger sum over a longer period, to foster progressive ideas and people.
Far from being disillusioned by the defeat of John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, the billionaires have resolved to invest further in the intellectual future of the left, said one person involved. Their commitment to provide new money comes amid criticism of the efforts of high-profile donors such as the Hungarian-born Mr Soros to sway US politics, as well as doubts about the effectiveness of record funding in helping the Democrat cause in 2004.