EXCLUSIVE — A Republican state attorney general is asking members of Congress to probe a Justice Department grant that he says benefits a “radically progressive” George Soros-linked group responsible for training prosecutors in ways to implement a soft-on-crime approach to their work.
Missouri’s Attorney General Andrew Bailey sent letters to congress Wednesday to urge both Republican and Democrat lawmakers “to further investigate and eliminate funding for programs that are counter-productive to public safety” and that “aid or encourage prosecutors to abuse discretion by refusing to bring criminals to justice.”
Bailey’s letters follow what he describes as a “galvanizing moment” in Missouri when disgraced St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner – “a progressive soft-on-crime prosecutor” – let a repeat criminal out on bail who then drove his speeding car into a young girl, leaving her with injures that required the amputation of both of her legs.
Gardner ultimately resigned after mounting evidence of duty dereliction and criticism from both political parties.
“As states like Missouri are leading the fight to uphold justice and put criminals behind bars, organizations and their partners in the federal government are doing just the opposite,” Bailey wrote. “The fact is, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in lock-step with radicals like George Soros, is actively funding organizations like the Vera Institute that are turning our streets into war zones,” he said.
Bailey names the Vera Institute — a Brooklyn-based advocacy group that says it wants to “transform the criminal and legal justice systems” with ties to Washington, D.C., Democrats — as a “deeply embedded” key partner in Gardner’s former office, “turning it into a catastrophic social experiment more concerned with lowering prosecution rates than convicting violent criminals.”
Soros’ Open Society Foundations donated nearly $11 million to the Vera Institute in previous years.
Bailey says Gardner “bragged” that her office “partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice’s Reshaping Prosecution program to shrink the system and instigate transformational change in St. Louis” as it implemented a “new approach centered on … racial equity.”
“Ms. Gardner’s partnership with George Soros and the Vera Institute, with the aim of ‘actively shrinking the criminal legal system’s footprint,’ was a disastrous experiment, and it unmoored the office from sound law enforcement practices. The Vera Institute is a far-left advocacy organization dedicated to broad and nebulous goals such as moving away from ‘case-by-case’ prosecutorial discretion (deemed to be a ‘narrow view of justice’), choosing instead to focus on ‘systemic impact of case decisions.’”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Vera said the group “entered into a partnership with then-Circuit Attorney for the City (CAC) of St. Louis Kim Gardner on a project to analyze her office data, measure racial disparities and identify areas for reform, and increase transparency with her community. The partnership helped the CAC implement policy reforms such as increased diversion programs that promote safety by addressing underlying drivers of crime and reducing recidivism.”
“Vera’s role was to collect and analyze data and work with CAC staff to conceive policy solutions, which CAC leadership then decided whether to implement,” the group described.
“Vera’s recommendations were based on research and data from the St. Louis community. Vera uses industry best practices to analyze local administrative data to understand how prosecutorial decisions impact public safety and racial disparities. Our research is reviewed by the Institutional Review Board and meets the highest standards. More importantly, our recommendations seek to promote public health and safety through alternatives to prosecution and incarceration that have been proven to build safer communities,” the group said.
According to publicly available information provided on the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) website, the Vera Institute has been awarded hundreds of millions of dollars since at least 2009.
In that same year, then-President Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, gave the keynote address at Vera’s third annual Justice Address in New York City in which he thanked Vera for being an “extraordinary partner to the government in the administration of justice.”
The OJP each year chooses law enforcement-related groups working to prevent and control crime to which to provide federal funding. The OJP’s budget is appropriated by Congress. In 2023, OJP’s requested budget was $6.2 billion. According to publicly available documents, Vera was awarded at least $4.5 million in grand money.
“As long as state leaders are forced to fight not only progressive prosecutors and radical billionaires, but also our own DOJ using tax dollars to undermine the rule of law in our communities, the battle becomes far more difficult to wage,” Bailey wrote in his letter.
Bailey sent letters to House and Senate Judiciary Committee leadership and House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership.
The Department of Justice did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.