Soros Assails Critics for 'Endangering Our Country'

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Billionaire political activist George Soros, at the center of a controversy involving the alleged use of American taxpayer dollars to support needle exchange programs, Thursday accused his critics of "bigotry" and said they were "endangering the country."

"I really have to question the motives of people who are arguing that the federal government should not support or not use organizations like ours on tasks where we are very well qualified," Soros said, responding to a question from Cybercast News Service at an event in Baltimore. "It is this kind of bigotry and carrying party politics to extremes that is endangering our country."

Soros was responding to allegations made by U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), who believes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) violated congressional intent by giving taxpayer dollars to groups like Soros' Open Society Institute (OSI), which support needle exchange programs in Central Asia and elsewhere.

USAID records, obtained by Cybercast News Service , show that the agency guided its grant recipients to spend federal funds in such a way as to free private dollars for the purchase of "clean" needles and syringes for intravenous drug users.

But Soros had a ready explanation for that on Thursday.

"We are not using any government monies for needle exchange. We are using our own funds for needle exchange. And our 'harm reduction' program in Central Asia, I think, has made a significant contribution," he said.

As Cybercast News Service reported on April 25, Soros' Open Society Institute received more than $30 million in U.S. taxpayer assistance between 1998 and 2003, mostly through USAID, yet Soros spent more than $20 million during the 2004 presidential campaign to try to defeat President Bush.

Thursday, he made reference to his political opposition to the president.

The "bigotry" and political extremism to which Soros referred are the reasons why, "in my personal capacity, I have been active in opposing this government," he said.

Asked about some congressional efforts to discontinue federal funding of his Open Society Institute and its subsidiaries, Soros said, "We have been there before the U.S. government was there and we will be probably there after they have gone."

Soros was in Baltimore Thursday to announce the awarding of a new grant to the city.

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