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George Soros has pumped $18 billion into Open Society Foundations, making it a philanthropic giant

Billionaire George Soros has pumped nearly $18 billion into the Open Society Foundations the last several years, turning it into one of the world’s largest philanthropic organizations.

The money comes from the personal wealth of the 87-year-old Soros, Laura Silber, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said Tuesday.

The shift of some of Soros’ wealth from his investment firm was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Forbes listed Soros’ personal net worth as of Tuesday at $23 billion.

Soros, who lived through the Nazi occupation in his native Hungary, later fled communist rule in the country and eventually immigrated to the United States. He has become a leading backer of liberal causes and candidates, including Hillary Clinton.

Soros established his first foundation in 1984 in Hungary, and he founded the Open Society Foundations in the U.S. in 1993. Soros has spent nearly $14 billion funding a host of programs around the world, including refugee relief and public health efforts.

The foundation said it is the second-largest in the world after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Open Society’s 2017 budget is $941 million, with giving organized around seven global regions and 10 themes, including early childhood and education, human rights movements and institutions, and justice reform and the rule of law.

But the foundation has been the subject of controversy for its work in the United States, such as supporting Planned Parenthood and criminal justice issues also advocated by the Black Lives Matter movement.

In 2014, the foundation contributed $1.4 million to help pass California’s Proposition 47, which reduced drug possession and minor theft charges to misdemeanors. Soros provided other funding less directly.

jim.puzzanghera@latimes.com

Twitter: @JimPuzzanghera

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UPDATES:

10:25 a.m.: This article was updated with staff reporting and additional background information.

This article was originally published at 9:05 a.m.

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