Why Do Two Smart Alabama Politicians Disagree About George Soros?

Greg Markley


In the 1972 movie “The Candidate,” Robert Redford plays an idealistic first-time candidate for the U.S. Senate. He ran a long-shot campaign and defeated a three-term Republican. After his win, the Redford character grabbed his campaign manager for a private talk. As journalists clamor outside the door, the candidate asks his strategist: “What do we do now?” He never gets an answer.

Wes Allen, incoming Alabama secretary of state, is a veteran politician, unlike the Redford character. Allen has been a state representative for four years and the probate judge in Pike County for a decade. He has directed many elections. Unlike the new senator in the movie, he knows what to do and wants to fulfill his promises to his constituents.

“First and foremost, ERIC was not founded nor funded by George Soros, and to claim otherwise is either dishonest or misinformed,” wrote John Merrill, current secretary of state, in a February 2022 public letter. “Representative Wes Allen (R-Troy) falsely claimed that the Electronic Registration Information Center is a ‘Soros-funded, leftist group.’”

 Merrill added: “ERIC was founded by the original seven-member states: Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Washington with the assistance of Pew Charitable Trusts. Also, ERIC’s operating costs are funded completely by annual dues paid by member states, not by George Soros.”

For context, let’s look briefly at Hungarian-American businessman Soros. Now aged 92, he has donated 64% of his original fortune, which was $8.6 billion. Forbes magazine called him “the most generous giver” based on his net worth and the share of it that he has provided to charities and foundations.

He survived the Nazis in Budapest, Hungary, and later studied at the London School of Economics, receiving a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in philosophy. By 1954, he was on his way to great wealth. Most of his donations have been to the Open Society Foundations, which he founded in 1993.

But Soros became a subject of multiple conspiracy theories — everything from antisemitic (he is Jewish), to having ERIC corrupting elections, the latter an idea that Allen believes. Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly gave a nearly 10-minute monologue on Soros’ supposed sins in 2007.

Breitbart News regularly publishes articles blaming Soros for anything they think might stick. In October 2018, a story in the magazine Fast Company was headlined, “Buckle up! Here’s a timeline of George Soros conspiracy theories.” The focus is on Soros as a global figure with a strong impact in the world economy, as a “puppet master” for various plots.

But as Merrill explained last February, ERIC shows no evidence of fraud. Indeed, this system has operated in Alabama as a bulwark in election integrity.

“It identified more than 24,000 voter records of potential duplicate registered voters in which an Alabama voter had duplicate records with potential inaccurate data. Eric helped us match these voter records, and 95% of those duplicate records are no longer on the Alabama voter rolls.”

Merrill is concerned that the progress made with ERIC’s help would be discarded for political expediency, not because of anything Soros did.

“By leaving ERIC for cheap political points, Representative Allen (as secretary of state) could undermine the election security measures that have made Alabama the gold standard for election integrity throughout the nation,” Merrill said.

Allen will be sworn into office on Jan. 16 and plans to set up a different system. He will use the postal service’s Change of Address program to identify potential out-of-state voters. He expects to work closely with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency driver license offices and the state Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics to maintain voter rolls.

“I have heard repeatedly as I traveled through the state for the last year and a half that people want us out of ERIC,” Allen noted in a press release. “They don’t want their personal information or the personal information of their children to be sent to this out-of-state group. I promised I would end our participation and that is what I am taking these steps to do.”

In a profile in the Alabama Daily News in 2019, Allen explained the two most important things his father points out are needed in a leader. His dad is state Sen. Gerald Allen (R – Tuscaloosa).

“Just seeing his work ethic and seeing how hard he works has been something that has been passed on to me,” the younger Allen said. “There is no one who outworks him. He has also passed on to me that if you want to do this job and do it well, you have to be a good listener.”

Judging by the quick moves to drop ERIC as soon as he is sworn in in January, and to do so after listening to voters concerned that Soros may have a grip in Alabama’s elections system, Allen will likely be a hands-on secretary of state.

 Greg Markley moved to Lee County in 1996. He has a master’s in education from AUM and a master’s in history from Auburn University. He taught politics as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and civilian life, he has contributed to The Observer since 2011. He writes on politics, education and books. gm.markley@charter.net.



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