Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Soros Demands Apology From Hastert Over Drug Comment, Hill Says

Soros Demands Apology From Hastert Over Drug Comment, Hill Says

Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- George Soros, head of the 10th largest hedge-fund company, demanded an apology from U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, after the lawmaker speculated that some of Soros's money might come from drug cartels, The Hill newspaper reported.

``I don't know where -- if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from,'' Hastert, 62, told Fox News Sunday. Asked whether Soros got funds from drug cartels, Hastert said Soros ``has been for legalizing drugs in the country. So I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there.'' Soros has given $12.6 million to groups opposing President George W. Bush, according to Internal Revenue Service records.

Soros, 74, faxed Hastert a letter yesterday saying the implication that he gets money from criminals is untrue and offensive. Hastert, chairman of this week's Republican National Convention in New York, ``should be ashamed'' and back up his claims or apologize, Soros wrote, according to the newspaper.

``He's not going to apologize,'' Hastert spokesman John Feehery told Bloomberg News. Hastert was referring to Soros- funded groups such as the Open Society Institute and the role they may play with independent political organizations called 527 groups. Soros supports legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

``The simple fact is that the Speaker was talking about the fact that 527s are unaccountable and that no one knows where their money is coming from,'' Feehery said. ``He never said drug cartels. He was talking mostly about drug groups like Open Society and other groups that Mr. Soros has funded and that promote the legalization of narcotics.''

Soros didn't respond to a call for comment. Soros was the highest-paid hedge fund manager in the world last year, earning about $750 million, according to a survey by Institutional Investor's Alpha magazine.