Jan. 6 Megadonor Helping Ohio GOP Preemptively Overturn Will of the Voters - The Intercept

In November, Ohio voters could decide on ballot measures covering abortion, cannabis legalization, and qualified immunity, the legal principle that protects government officials, including police, from many civil suits. Before those proposals are voted on, however, a separate measure put forward for an August special election could determine their fate. The measure would amend the state constitution to require more votes to approve the November ballot measures.

The constitutional amendment is deeply unpopular — it was first introduced in January and faced bipartisan opposition — but the proposal counts a major national political force among its supporters: Chicago-area billionaire Richard Uihlein, a GOP megadonor who supported groups involved in the January 6 attack in Washington and subsequent efforts to overturn elections.

The amendment is one of a raft of efforts in states across the country where extremist Republicans are taking drastic measures to circumvent the will of the public on issues like abortion, criminal justice, and education.

Uihlein’s support for the amendment to preempt the ballot measures is being funneled through a new political action committee formed in March called Save Our Constitution PAC, which is running ads in support of the change. Uihlein, founder of the shipping company Uline, gave the PAC $1.1 million last month. The contribution has not yet appeared in public financial disclosures and was first reported by the Columbus Dispatch. Uihlein has also funded smaller independent expenditures backing the measure, according to Public Wise, which also operates a PAC. (Neither Save Our Constitution PAC nor representatives for Uihlein responded to requests for comment.)

One of the country’s biggest conservative political donors, Uihlein was the primary funder of the group that organized the rally that preceded the January 6 attack on the Capitol. In the days after the attack, he and his wife gave more than $5 million to groups seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election. Last month in Wisconsin, the Uihleins poured money into a competitive state Supreme Court race and backed a conservative candidate who lost.

Critics of the constitutional amendment have pointed out that voting on the proposal in August, instead of November, could mean that Republicans pushing the measure are violating a recently passed election law — that was advanced by Republicans. The August vote, however, will go ahead as planned unless the state Supreme Court decides otherwise in response to a pending lawsuit.

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The Intercept

Locations: Ohio Chicago, IL Wisconsin 

Organizations: Republican Party (GOP) Save Our Constitution PAC Columbus Dispatch 

People: Richard Uihlein 

Tags: Abortion Cannabis Legislation Qualified Immunity Corruption Lobbying 

Type: Headlines