On Saturday, crowds of women in knitted pink “pussy hats” crowded the streets of cities around the country to voice their dissatisfaction with newly-inaugurated Donald Trump. In Washington, D.C., the largest of the marches across the country was even bigger than the inauguration crowd the day prior. Like other recent left-leaning demonstrations, the Women’s March described itself as a grassroots effort coordinated by many local leaders. However, a look at its website shows that the march has numerous ties to groups receiving significant financial support from left-leaning philanthropist George Soros.
The website for the Women’s March on Washington lists 402 groups as “partners.” Some, including the AFL-CIO, the ACLU, and MoveOn.org are groups with longstanding ties to the Democratic party and liberal causes. Planned Parenthood and the Natural Resources Defense Council were the top two financial sponsors of the event.
The Soros family has long supported Planned Parenthood. Last year, Soros gave Planned Parenthood an additional $1.5 million to help it respond to the release of undercover videos showing the sale of body parts from aborted fetuses. His son donated another $1 million around the same time. His donations to Planned Parenthood since 2000 total more than $20 million.
The March’s other “premier partner,” the Natural Resources Defense Council, states on its website that it receives funding from Soros’ Open Society Foundations. “The George Soros-backed Open Society Institute and Foundation to Support Open Society gave NRDC over $2.2 million since 2008,” the group says.
These two groups are merely the most prominent recipients of Soros money. Fifty-six of the groups listed as “partners” of the March have received some financial support from Soros. Donations range in size from $24,000 to more than $34 million over the last 15 years. Many of the donations are to pro-choice groups and to organized labor.
All told, Soros’s donations to these groups add up to nearly $90 million between 2000 and 2014. When asked about Soros’ support, a spokesperson for the foundation said in a statement that there was “no truth” to “false reports” that Soros was funding protests directly.
“We support a wide range of organizations — including those that support women and minorities who have historically been denied equal rights,” she said. “Many of whom are concerned about what policy changes may lie ahead. We are proud of their work. We of course support the right of all Americans to peaceably assemble and petition their government—a vital, and constitutionally safeguarded, pillar of a functioning democracy.”
Although he may not have given money solely for the sake of protesting, the prevalence of Soros money at the Women’s March resulted in a protest that, despite its supposed grassroots origins, has alienated many women who are ambivalent about Trump, but do not agree with the liberal focus of the march.
“As someone who voted for Trump, I don’t feel welcome, nor do many other women who reject the liberal identity-politics that is the core underpinnings of the march, so far, making white women feel unwelcome, nixing women who oppose abortion and hijacking the agenda,” wrote Asra Q. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and self-described “lifelong liberal feminist.“
In addition to the ties to left-leaning philanthropists, twenty-two of the march’s partner groups were signatories to an anti-Trump petition published in the New York Times after then-candidate Trump said in December 2015 that he wished to limit immigration from Muslim countries.
Even before the inauguration, the march exposed tensions between different allied groups. The march’s original organizers were criticized for lacking ethnic diversity and the march’s name was changed from the “Million Woman March” to the “Women’s March” after social media criticism that the name echoed the Million Man March held in 1995. In response, the Women’s March adopted a new name and recruited co-chairs with experience campaigning for minority rights. In the process, it pushed aside some women who felt that their concerns had been overlooked out of concern for minority inclusion.