by Gabe Kaminsky
President Joe Biden’s Treasury Department appointed two people to its “racial equity” committee that run nonprofits that received millions from left-wing billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) network, records show.
On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen unveiled the members for its Committee on Racial Equity, which will advise the agency on how “to advance racial equity in the economy and address acute disparities for communities of color.” Felicia Wong and Lorella Praeli, two committee members, lead four nonprofits that got over $15.7 million from OSF’s network between 2016 and 2020, according to OSF’s grant database.
The chair of the committee is former Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, now a Columbia University professor. The committee has 25 members who work in a variety of fields, including academia, nonprofits and the financial services sector. Committee participation does not require members to give up their jobs.
The committee is a product of Treasury’s 2021 “equity assessment.” Biden on his first day in office signed an executive order called “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government” that directed federal agencies to conduct equity assessments.
Wong, the committee’s vice chair, is president and CEO of two groups that have received grants from OSF’s network. One is the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank seeking to “carry forward” Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy that is critical of capitalism. The other is Roosevelt Forward, the institute’s sister group that publishes papers on “progressive” economic policy.
While Roosevelt Forward’s website does not list Wong as president and CEO, a spokeswoman for the Roosevelt Institute told the DCNF she is. Treasury lists Wong as having the role on its website and Wong’s Twitter bio does the same.
The institute between 2016 and 2020 accepted almost $4.7 million from OSF’s Foundation to Promote Open Society (FPOC), a grant-making charity. The grants were for a variety of initiatives, including “general support,” policy analysis on “poverty reduction” in the South and the institute’s now-defunct “Great Democracy Initiative,” which was aimed at “producing bold, progressive solutions to the biggest problems facing our country.”
In 2019 and 2020, Roosevelt Forward accepted $425,000 from OSF’s Open Society Policy Center, which does “advocacy on domestic and international issues aimed at elevating justice and advancing a progressive U.S. foreign policy.” Those grants were to support Roosevelt Forward’s “policy advocacy on prescription drug pricing and pharmaceutical regulation” and “advocacy on potential government appointments.”
“Any efforts to address inequality in the United States must account for the legacy of racial exclusion built into our economy,” said Wong in a Tuesday statement. “I look forward to working with this distinguished group of leaders to propose ways to harness Treasury’s power and authority to redress these harms, toward a more just and equitable future.”
Wong also notably ran investment services between 2006 and 2012 for the Democracy Alliance, a well-funded left-wing “network of donors” that Soros has donated to.
Hayden Ludwig, senior investigative researcher at the conservative think tank Capital Research Center, told the DCNF that the OSF grants further show how the Biden administration” draws heavily from the rank of professional left-wing activism” to staff its agencies.
“Clearly the activist wing is in the driver’s seat of the Democratic Party,” said Ludwig.
Another committee member whose group has received OSF funding is Lorella Praeli, co-president of the left-wing charity Community Change and its affiliated 501(c)(4) lobbying arm Community Change Action. The charity focuses on myriad policy issues, including immigration reform, while the lobbying arm invests in congressional races and focuses on “voter engagement.”
Between 2016 and 2020, OSF’s Open Society Policy Center and FPOC gave Community Change roughly $2.6 million and Community Change Action over $8 million. The grants to the charity were mostly for “general support” while the grants to the lobbying arm were for advocacy on immigration policy, labor policy and childcare expansion.
Community Change was formerly called the Center for Community Change, which was listed on the group’s fiscal year 2020 tax documents.
One conservative watchdog group probing the Biden administration told the DCNF that the racial equity committee’s appointments of Wong and Praeli are “further evidence” of how the Left has been effective at “cultivating a revolving door” between nonprofit advocacy, finance, academia and the government.
“Basically these folks just move back and forth between these organizations changing their badges, but serving a single goal to increase the scope and influence of the federal government in the lives of Americans,” said Tom Jones, executive director of the American Accountability Foundation.
The racial equity committee will meet four times per year and members serve two-year terms, The New York Times reported. Members will be “on call” to weigh in on issues the committee considers relevant to their expertise, Treasury’s Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo told the Times.
Community Change, Community Change Action, Praeli, OSF and Treasury did not respond to requests for comment.
Roosevelt Institute pointed the DCNF to Wong’s Tuesday statement, as did Wong.
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Gabe Kaminsky is a reporter at The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Felicia Wong” by Roosevelt Institute. Photo “Lorella Praeli” by Lorella Praeli.