Paths of Soros and Pawlenty cross at e-commerce company

By Laurie Bennett

March 21, 2014 at 11:21am

Business can make for strange political bedfellows.

Take, for example, Digital River, Inc., a provider of e-commerce solutions.

One of its largest stockholders is Soros Fund Management, the investment firm founded by George Soros, a liberal who has given millions of dollars to Democratic causes.

George Soros

Tim Pawlenty

On its board of directors is Tim Pawlenty, who has spent and helped raise millions of dollars on Republican campaigns.

Pawlenty, president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, served as a Republican governor of Minnesota before unsuccessfully seeking his party’s nomination for president in 2012. He co-chaired Mitt Romney’s campaign.

As the banking sector’s chief (but unregistered) lobbyist in Washington, Pawlenty focuses on domestic concerns such as the Fed, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Soros, who funds projects around the world through his Open Society Foundations, is more outspoken on foreign policy.

On Thursday, during a panel discussion in Germany, he discussed the crisis in Crimea.

America’s challenge is “to help Ukraine rather than just punishing Russia,” he said. “Just punishing Russia will push Putin further into a corner and as a wounded animal he would strike back and it would be a lose-lose proposition.”

Soros recently has increased spending on lobbying in the U.S.. He cut back on his political contributions after the 2004 presidential campaign, but opened his wallet again in 2012, writing $1 million checks to American Bridge 21st Century and to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting President Obama’s re-election.

Should Pawlenty decide to re-enter national politics, he could have a hard time criticizing big money on the left, since it has provided a paycheck. His 2012 compensation package at Digital River (the most recent publicly available) was $197,705.

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