By Dan Eggen, Thursday, September 27, 4:02 PM

George Soros, the liberal billionaire investor who has largely laid low during the 2012 elections, announced $1.5 million in pledged donations Thursday to a trio of super PACs backing President Obama and congressional Democrats, PAC officials said.

Soros, who became nationally prominent in 2004 when he spent more than $20 million on independent groups supporting Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), will give $1 million to Priorities USA Action — which is supporting Obama — and $500,000 to Majority PAC and House Majority PAC, which are running ads on behalf of Democratic candidates for Congress.

The move could signal a softening of resistance by Soros and other wealthy liberals to contributing to super PACs and other independent groups that can accept unlimited donations. Soros had previously given $1 million to the American Bridge opposition research group and smaller checks to other groups, but had suggested he was unlikely to get involved more directly.

Even with more than $2.5 million in total donations, however, Soros’s financial commitment pales in comparison with conservative donors such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has said he will give up to $100 million to groups supporting Mitt Romney and other Republicans this year.

Other top Republican donors include Houston homebuilder Bob Perry ($16 million) and Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons ($15.75 million). The top Democratic giver on record so far is New York hedge fund manager Jim Simons, who has given a combined $4 million to the same super PACs to which Soros just agreed to contribute.

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