Billionaires Peter Lewis and George Soros have each pledged $10 million to America Coming Together, a newly formed political organization designed to defeat President Bush in the next presidential election. But who is Peter Lewis, the less well known of these two money men?
A billionaire, Lewis is the chairman and chief executive officer of Progressive Corporation, the fourth-largest U.S. personal auto insurer, which insures high-risk motorists who can’t get insurance anywhere else. Stories in the media depict Lewis as a philanthropist who has given $50 million to the Guggenheim Museum in New York and $55 million to his alma mater, Princeton University. But what are they leaving out? A leading U. S. business reference manual, Hoover’s Handbook of American Business l999, actually described Lewis in print as “a functioning pot-head.”
Lewis, who proudly describes himself as “half screwball, half businessman,” showed up at a meeting with a Cleveland City Council president wearing a Lone Ranger outfit. His house features an elaborate series of paintings of Chinese communist Mao Tse-tung by Andy Warhol. But most significant is the fact that this self-described “screwball” has tried to change America to suit his own tastes. The anti-drug group, National Families in Action, says that Lewis has “contributed heavily to the destruction of thousands of America’s children” by promoting the medical marijuana hoax and leading kids to believe that “pot is OK.”
That’s a reference to the fact that Soros and Lewis have helped bankroll the campaign to legalize pot, featuring a slick public relations effort that falsifies the dangerous nature of marijuana and presents it as “medicine.” Since 1991, Lewis has contributed $5 million to the ACLU to fight drug laws, and he has made large contributions to drug “legalization” campaigns in Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Utah, Florida, Maine, and Massachusetts.
Not one of the recent news reports on Lewis mentioned that on a trip to New Zealand three years he was arrested and admitted to three charges of importing drugs after customs officers found two ounces of hashish and 1.7 ounces of marijuana in his luggage. Of course, Lewis said he was carrying the drugs for “medicinal purposes.” The Washington Times reported that the incident “sparked a political furor after the charges were dropped and his identity was suppressed by a court in New Zealand.” New Zealand Judge David Harvey dropped the charges and invited Lewis to watch the challenger rounds for the America’s Cup yacht race while in New Zealand and to “enjoy the fresh air.” The judge had issued a suppression order against the release of Lewis’ name, stating, “The consequences of publication would far outweigh the crime.”
Lewis has been heavily involved in U.S. Democratic Party politics for years. He started by working as the Ohio finance chairman for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign. “I did it essentially because I hated Richard Nixon,” Lewis said. He is a close friend of Senator Ted Kennedy, who uses Lewis’ accommodations to “relax” when in Cleveland.