Election to stop out-of-state special interests funded by out-of-state special interests

Issue 1 pamphlet
Posted at 6:35 PM, Aug 02, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The election that Republicans say will stop out-of-state interests groups from meddling in Ohio has primarily been financed by out-of-state interest groups.

The dollar signs keep going up to fund each side in Ohio’s Aug. 8 special election.

"You've got to have money, obviously, to get your message out," state Rep. Adam Bird (R-New Richmond) said.

Issue 1 would raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to pass from 50%+1, a simple majority, to 60%.

RELATED: How Ohio’s Issue 1 could affect the rest of the country

News 5 has covered Issue 1 extensively. Click or tap here to read more.

Republicans like Bird have said voting yes on Issue 1 will stop out-of-state special interests from influencing Ohio.

The vote no campaign has raised $14.8 million, while vote yes has $4.8 million, according to newly-filed campaign finance reports.

"I think this speaks to what we, as Republicans, have said from the get-go — that there's gonna be a lot of money coming in from the coast, especially elites that want to come in and change Ohio," he said.

Vote no campaign

Political action committee (PAC) One Person, One Vote is responsible for leading the vote no campaign.

Of the $14.8 million raised by them, 83% has come from out of state.

The largest contributors of money are in D.C., California, Ohio, Virginia and New York. The groups giving the most money are the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a progressive fund in DC and the Tides Foundation, a similar group from California. They gave $2.5 million and $1.8 million, respectively.

The Ohio Education Association has given more than a million, as well. Their president, Scott DiMauro, explains the national interest shows what a deep threat Issue 1 is.

"I think there was a very broad-based group of people coming together, really standing up to invest in Ohio's democracy," DiMauro said.

Still, Ohioans have given millions, but in smaller amounts, like $25 or $1,000. Of the number of donations, Ohio donations make up 70% of the total distinct donation amounts, equaling $2.4 million.

Yes, they have money coming in from out of state, but that’s because people don’t want to see democracy remain in Ohio, DiMauro said. Plus, parent organizations of chapters in Ohio, like the ACLU and National Education Association, have been supporting them.

Many grassroots organizations haven’t donated because they are volunteering and knocking on doors instead, he added. Also, they aren't the ones who are trying to change Ohio law, but protect it, which goes against the "out-of-staters trying to mess with our constitution" argument.

DiMauro then seems to suggest that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

"I think it's an issue of hypocrisy," DiMauro said. "Their funding is coming almost exclusively from an out-of-state billionaire."

Vote yes campaign

PAC Protect Our Constitution is responsible for leading the vote yes campaign.

$4 million of the $4.8 million raised by vote yes supporters came from one man. Richard Uihlein is an Illinois billionaire and a major supporter of groups that helped organize the rally on Jan. 6, 2021 that led to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

This means that roughly 83% of out-of-staters are funding the yes campaign, too. This billionaire also spent an additional million dollars before the bill was even passed out of the General Assembly. When asked about this, Bird said they don't have enough money because Republicans are fundraising for themselves.

"You got all these people that are raising money for their campaign, and there's only so much money to go around for political campaigns," Bird said. "Maybe some money came from out of state, but a vast majority, more money came from out of state for vote no."

Without Uihlein, the vote yes campaign wouldn't even break $1 million.

When it comes down to it, both sides are being funded by outside interests at almost exactly the same rate.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.