Three of Spades: THE DARK MONEY OF ELECTION DENIAL – MEET THE UIHELINS

 

“the Uihleins — the most powerful donor couple in the GOP, if not all of politics”

Through their political spending, they have established a web of financial influence that connects them with “dark money” groups, conservative super PACs, activists spreading disproven theories about former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election and campaigns to derail direct democracy efforts in multiple states

 

 

Billionaire megadonor couple funding election denial with extensive influence machine and dark money network

By Olivia Buckley and Anna Massoglia

September 15, 2023

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2023/09/billionaire-megadonor-couple-funding-election-denial-with-extensive-influence-machine-dark-money-network-uihlein/

[This article is part of a series that is funded in part by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism that follows the money around the spread of election misinformation.]

[This article is part of U.S. Democracy Day, a nationwide collaborative on Sept. 15, the International Day of Democracy, in which news organizations cover how democracy works and the threats it faces. To learn more, visit usdemocracyday.org.]

Billionaire shipping supply magnates Richard “Dick” Uihlein and his wife, Elizabeth “Liz” Uihlein, have come to prominence in recent years as conservative megadonors. Through their political spending, they have established a web of financial influence that connects them with “dark money” groups, conservative super PACs, activists spreading disproven theories about former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election and campaigns to derail direct democracy efforts in multiple states by curtailing citizens’ ability to bypass lawmakers through ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments.

Prior to entering the shipping business, Richard Uihlein, a descendent of one of the founders of Milwaukee’s famous Schlitz Beer, initially worked for a company co-founded by his father Edgar. In 1980, Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein founded Uline, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of cardboard boxes and other packaging supplies. While Uline found modest success as a privately held company for several decades, ProPublica reported that its sales skyrocketed to $6.5 billion in 2020, spurred by the e-commerce boom that grew from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Uihleins have collectively given more than $250 million to federal candidates and political groups since the 2016 election cycle, according to a new OpenSecrets analysis. The bulk of those contributions — over $233 million — came from Richard Uihlein himself. Over the first six months of the 2024 election cycle alone, Uihlein poured more than $20 million into federal contributions. The couple has given an additional $83.8 million to state and local candidates since the start of the 2022 election cycle.

The couple scaled up their political activity even more leading up to and during the 2022 elections, with $82 million in giving, making Richard the top conservative donor for the cycle, according to OpenSecrets’ analysis.

During the 2020 cycle, the Uihelins gave nearly $3.3 million combined to pro-Trump super PAC America First Action.

In 2022, the Uihleins spent a total of $50 million opposing the reelection bid of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) through both direct contributions to Trump-endorsed Republican challenger Darren Bailey and contributions to People who Play by the Rules PAC, which ran ads in support of Bailey’s candidacy.

Richard Uihlein has also funded initiatives spreading disproven conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Before the Uihleins emerged as major donors, Richard Uihlein had an established relationship with the Tea Party Patriots, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit co-founded by conservative activist and former congressional candidate Amy Kremer. Kremer was one of the organizers of the Stop the Steal rally that preceded the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

During the 2020 election cycle, Uihlein was the top donor to the Tea Party Patriots super PAC and has given the operation at least $4.29 million since the 2016 election.

After her tenure with Tea Party Patriots, Kremer co-founded Women for America First, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that helped sponsor and organize the rally that preceded the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, and was listed on the rally’s National Park Service permit records. Uihlein additionally gave a small amount to the Women for Trump hybrid PAC, an affiliate of Women for America First.

OpenSecrets’ analysis of tax records found that the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, a charitable foundation controlled by Richard Uihlein, has steered more than $2.2 million to conservative student group Turning Point USA, with $1 million of that in 2020 and another $250,000 in 2021. Turning Point’s affiliated 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Turning Point Action, was listed as a sponsor of the rally on Jan. 6, 2021.

Each year, Uihlein’s family foundation also gives a modest $3,500 contribution to the Eagle Forum, the sister organization of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, another sponsor of the rally.

In 2021, Uihlein’s family foundation also gave more than $1 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute, which describes itself as “a home base and a networking hub for conservatives here in Washington” that helps associates “build the relationships and gain the education and training necessary to thrive in an environment that too often strips you of your resolve.”

Part of the Conservative Partnership Institute is the Election Integrity Network, a self-described “national hub” to “develop and share research and information, develop policy proposals and create legal strategies” that is lead by Cleta Mitchell.

Mitchell is a former Trump advisor who worked to challenge 2020 election results and was a longtime lawyer for several conservative dark money groups. She currently serves on the board of advisors for the Election Assistance Commission and recently faced criticism over comments at a Republican National Committee donor retreat, where she reportedly called for curtailing voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters.

Uihlein’s family foundation also gave $1.2 million to American Majority, which provides training to conservative activists.

The Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank that has advocated for loosening child labor protections in certain states, is another major recipient of Uihlein money. The family foundation has given the Foundation for Government Accountability nearly $18 million since 2013, with its largest donation reported in its most recent tax return. In 2021, the family foundation gave FGA $3.6 million, making them FGA’s largest beneficiary that year.

The Foundation for Government Accountability has been a key player in the Uihleins’ electoral influence machine, supporting several notable attacks on direct democracy at the state level. Direct democracy is the practice where voters in some states may bypass elected representatives to cast a vote directly on legislation or constitutional amendments, typically in the form of a ballot measure or referendum decided by a simple majority. In 2021, the Foundation for Government Accountability published a legal memo that argued for instituting a 60% supermajority to pass ballot initiatives and referendums at the state level. Following the publication of the memo, the Opportunities Solutions Project — FGA’s lobbying arm — testified in favor of a Missouri bill that would have added additional barriers to get referendums on the ballot.

The Uihleins received further scrutiny for supporting Ohio Issue 1, a ballot initiative that would have instituted a supermajority requirement to make amendments to the state constitution by popular vote. Voters struck down Issue 1 in August 2023 ahead of an upcoming vote to codify abortion access by constitutional amendment.

FGA Action, an alias used by Opportunities Solutions Project, also gave $71,970 to the ballot committee Arkansas Issue 2 and $50,000 to the committee supporting South Dakota HJR 5003, both attempts to raise the standard for passing ballot measures from a simple majority to 60%. Uihlein gave an additional $1.9 million in 2022 to the ballot committee opposing Michigan Proposal 2, which ultimately passed to expand early voting in the state.

Several Uihlein-associated groups operate under the umbrella of Restoration of America, including Restoration PAC, Restoration Action, Fair Courts America and VoteRef.

Restoration Action, the dark money group affiliated with Restoration PAC, a super PAC funded largely by Richard Uihlein, took in over $20.5 million in revenue 2021, nearly double the $10.4 million it brought in the prior year, according to tax records for the organization. The group’s 2022 fundraising haul was more than 300 times as much as the roughly $64,000 it brought in over the course of 2019 and 51 times the highest revenue recorded any prior year. Unlike super PACs, which are legally required to report its donors to the Federal Election Commission, Restoration Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that keeps its donors’ identities secret from the public.

Legally named the Voter Reference Foundation, VoteRef is a subsidiary of Restoration Action, which is run by former Trump campaign official Gina Swoboda. The group has published millions of voters’ names, birthdates, addresses and voting histories so anyone can search for discrepancies between the number of ballots cast in specific geographical areas and the number of voters on voter rolls. VoteRef has also spread claims about purported discrepancies in voter registrations despite election officials’ criticism that its methodology is flawed.

Fair Courts America formed in 2022 with the stated objective of attacking “Democrat-controlled courts who invent law out of thin air.” The super PAC spent at least $4.5 million in support of conservative judge Daniel Kelly, who ultimately lost a consequential race for Wisconsin’s Supreme Court in January of this year.

Another closely-tied super PAC, Americas PAC, received $1 million from Restoration Action and about $1.4 million from Restoration PAC in 2021. During the 2020 cycle, Americas PAC was funded mostly by Uihlein’s $2.35 million in contributions. During the following cycle, its funding shifted from Uihlein to Restoration PAC and Restoration Action, effectively adding an extra layer of insulation between Uihlein and the super PAC.
Oct. 3, 2023: An earlier version of this report inadvertantly labeled Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) as a Republican.

[Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit OpenSecrets.
For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact OpenSecrets: info@opensecrets.org]

 

House divided: The megadonor couple battling in the GOP’s civil war

Dick and Liz Uihlein have landed on opposite sides of some of the main fights illustrating the divides in the Republican Party.

By ALEX ISENSTADT

02/06/2023

When Ronna McDaniel was looking to sew up support for her reelection as Republican National Committee chair, she announced an endorsement from one of the GOP’s most influential megadonors: Liz Uihlein.

Hours later, McDaniel’s conservative insurgent rival, Harmeet Dhillon, announced her own new backer: Dick Uihlein, Liz’s husband.

The RNC contest is only the most recent party fight that has seen the husband-and-wife duo land on opposite sides. After Liz Uihlein came out in support of former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in the 2022 Wisconsin governor’s race, Dick Uihlein released a public statement praising rival Kevin Nicholson as an “outsider” who “can shake things up.”

And while Dick bankrolled bomb-throwing conservative Josh Mandel in last year’s Ohio Senate primary, Liz financed two other candidates — one of whom, Jane Timken, was the former state party chairwoman.

“Dick is super hard core, and his wife is not so much,” said former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, a past Dick Uihlein ally who was elected in the 2010 conservative wave. Candidates from “the hard right and the tea party and blow it up and burn it down — those were the kind of politicians that Dick always supported. His wife was a bit more establishment. So, they would often disagree on certain candidates.”
The split between the Uihleins — the most powerful donor couple in the GOP, if not all of politics — has come to represent the rift cleaving the Republican Party writ large. While Liz has spent millions of dollars buttressing the party hierarchy, including candidates and super PACs backed by GOP leaders, Dick has invested even more heavily in tearing it down, pouring millions into far-right primary challengers and insurgent groups.

Those close to the Uihleins say they have a warm and affectionate marriage, despite their differences over politics. Friends say their personalities complement one another: She is outgoing and engaging, he more quiet and reserved, and sometimes prickly.
The two worked hand-in-hand to launch a shipping supplies company out of their basement in 1980, starting out selling carton resizers. According to Forbes, the southeastern Wisconsin-based Uline — which now sells goods out of an 800-plus page catalog, with items ranging from beer carriers to butcher paper — brought in $6.2 billion in revenue last year.

The couple’s combined political giving to federal candidates and causes over the last decade tops $230 million, plus tens of millions more to state-level groups, according to campaign finance records. Dick is the more active donor, but Liz has made millions of dollars’ worth of contributions in her own right.

The Uihleins started contributing to candidates in the 1990s, and their diverging views on politics soon showed through.
Dick donated to a pair of far-right candidates during the 1996 Republican primary, Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes. Liz, meanwhile, later revealed that she voted for Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1992 and 1996 elections.

Their donations began to soar after the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision easing campaign finance restrictions, but the beneficiaries of their largesse were almost immediately at odds. Dick — who has privately complained that Republican leaders give in too easily — funneled vast sums to anti-establishment groups like the anti-tax Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Action, two groups that frequently clashed with party leadership over contested GOP primaries.

Dick would later become the primary funder of Restoration PAC, a super PAC that, according to its website, exists to support “truly conservative candidates, and [oppose] Leftists and the woke agenda.”

Liz, however, focused her giving on mainstream party organizations: During last year’s midterm election, she was a major donor to the RNC, the GOP’s House and Senate campaign arms, and to super PACs aligned with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Those who know the Uihleins — neither of whom responded to requests for comment — say they look for starkly different things when it comes to deciding where to direct their funds. They describe Liz as driven by pragmatism, methodically seeking out the Republican most likely to win.

She has doled out cash to party organizations that protect sitting Republican incumbents, like the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the McConnell-linked Senate Leadership Fund. And Liz is known for maintaining close ties with the party hierarchy. One of her top aides, Tony Povkovich, is serving on the host committee for the 2024 Republican National Convention, to be held in Milwaukee, Wis. According to one person familiar with the discussions, she has offered to financially support the convention.

Liz has also attended RNC finance events, and during the 2016 campaign, then-RNC Chair Reince Priebus tapped her to serve on a fundraising committee benefiting Donald Trump.

Dick, by contrast, is drawn to conservative purists, anti-establishment outsiders and underdogs — some of whom are seen as lost causes.

Over the years, he has been criticized for squandering millions of dollars on failed longshot candidates, including several in 2022, like Illinois gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey and Arkansas Senate hopeful Jake Bequette. He has funded unsuccessful primary challenges against a number of sitting GOP officeholders, including former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, Arkansas Sen. John Boozman and the late Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran.

Dick’s anti-establishment bent has strained his relationship with Republican leaders — many of whom resent him for financing primary challengers against incumbents and for bolstering candidates they contend hurt the party’s prospects. A single seven-figure donation from Dick, senior Republicans complain, can become a serious headache.

Some top Republicans say they don’t bother reaching out to Dick and only work with Liz, though Dick has on occasion cut six-figure checks to the main party committees in Washington.

“She likes to be a much more influential Republican Party donor,” Walsh said. “Dick could give a fuck about any of that.”
Those who’ve interacted with the Uihleins say they make their spending decisions independent from one another, take their meetings with candidates separately and rely on different teams of gatekeepers.

While Liz is known to lean on Povkovich, Dick is advised by a team of hard-edged conservative activists including Dan Proft, a radio show host who waged an unsuccessful 2010 campaign for Illinois governor, and John Tillman, who leads the libertarian-leaning Illinois Policy Institute. Brian Timpone, a former TV reporter who oversees a network of conservative websites, is another key figure in Dick’s orbit.

Candidates pitching Liz must show they have a path to victory. Those appealing to Dick must prove they are true believers.
“They come at it from two different perspectives. Dick is ideological and insurgent-focused, and Liz is just more about issues and about mechanics of the campaign and, ‘How are you going to win?’ and ‘What’s your message?’” said Keith Gilkes, a longtime Wisconsin-based GOP strategist. “They’re completely opposite people in terms of the questions and conversations with candidates.”

That has caused strains at times. According to two people familiar with the discussions, Liz privately expressed anger over her husband’s decision to spend millions of dollars to bolster disgraced ex-Gov. Eric Greitens during last year’s Republican Senate primary in Missouri. Greitens, who stepped down from the governorship after being accused of sexually assaulting his hairdresser, was aggressively opposed in the primary by McConnell’s political operation. Greitens ended up losing the nominating fight.

Walsh recalled that Dick “would often awkwardly laugh about, or talk about, the fact that there’s tension at home because she’s supporting somebody and he’s supporting somebody else.”

Liz appeared to address the divide between her and her husband following the 2020 election, when she wrote a post on her company’s website arguing that families could survive their political differences. Even though she voted for Clinton in the ‘90s, Liz recounted, her marriage “still survived.”

“Family,” she wrote, “still trumps politics.”

Whether the Uihleins — who live in Lake Forest, Ill., about 25 miles south of their company headquarters — clash during the 2024 election remains unclear. Some people familiar with the couple point out that, despite their differences, the two have sometimes overlapped in their support for candidates and causes.

One instance came during the 2016 GOP primary, when both gave millions in support of then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s short-lived presidential bid. “Both are conservative. They just both have strong opinions on individual candidates,” Walker said. “One of the ones they agreed on was me.”

 

That Cardboard Box in Your Home Is Fueling Election Denial

A previously unreported boom in profits for the shipping supply giant Uline has provided the funds for a deeply conservative Midwestern family to bankroll anti-democracy causes around the country.

by Justin Elliott, Megan O’Matz and Doris Burke

Oct. 26, 2022

[ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.]

Much of the cardboard and paper goods strewn about our homes — the mail-order boxes and grocery store bags — are sold by a single private company, with its name, Uline, stamped on the bottom. Few Americans know that a multibillion-dollar fortune made on those ubiquitous products is now fueling election deniers and other far-right candidates across the country.

Dick and Liz Uihlein of Illinois are the largest contributors to Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who attended the Jan. 6 rally and was linked to a prominent antisemite, and have given to Jim Marchant, the Nevada Secretary of State nominee who says he opposed the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020. They are major funders to groups spreading election falsehoods, including Restoration of America, which, according to an internal document obtained by ProPublica, aims to “get on God’s side of the issues and stay there” and “punish leftists.”

Flush with profits from their shipping supply company, the Uihleins have emerged as the No. 1 federal campaign donors for Republicans ahead of the November elections, and the No. 2 donors overall behind liberal financier George Soros. The couple has spent at least $121 million on state and federal politics in the last two years alone, fighting taxes, unions, abortion rights and marijuana legalization.

From Minor to Major Donors

Modest donors a decade ago, the Uihleins have emerged as the top donor to federal Republican causes this cycle.

In 2021 to 2022, the Uihleins contributed over $60 million and ranked 1st

In 2009 to 2010, the Uihleins contributed $319,000 and ranked 34th

Credit: Source: OpenSecrets

Uline’s core business — selling boxes — is so boring there’s an entire Simpsons bit devoted to its dullness. But tax records obtained by ProPublica show the company, which is privately held and does not publicly disclose financial results, has experienced an astonishing boom.

The Uihleins, who make the vast majority of their money from the company, reported around $18 million in income in 2002, according to the records. That rocketed fortyfold, to $712 million, in 2018. Thanks to the pandemic-induced online shopping surge, Uline has grown even more since.

While the Uihleins rarely speak to the press — they didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story — they have become well known in political circles. But the explosion of the Uihleins’ wealth as well as the roots of their politics have not been well understood.

The German-American clan made their original fortune in the 19th century as owners of the Milwaukee brewery Schlitz. Family members were staples of the Chicago Tribune society pages.

When Dick and Liz Uihlein donated millions in recent years to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, they were following in a family tradition. Edgar J. Uihlein of Chicago was among the handful of largest donors to the original America First Committee, the aviator Charles Lindbergh’s group that opposed the United States’ entry into World War II. (It’s unclear whether that was Edgar Sr., Dick’s grandfather, or Edgar Jr., his father, who had just graduated from college.) While America First drew supporters from across the political spectrum, it was most associated with rightists. Uihlein’s donation was disclosed in 1941. Later that year, Lindbergh gave an openly antisemitic speech assailing Jewish influence.

When Edgar Uihlein Sr. died in 1956, his estate was valued at $4.8 million — more than $50 million in today’s dollars — and the money was left in a trust for his heirs, newspapers reported at the time.

Dick’s father, Edgar Uihlein Jr., who had started a plastics company after serving in the Navy during World War II, established himself as an important funder of far-right political groups in the 1960s.

A document from 1963 identifies Edgar Uihlein Jr. as on the National Finance Committee of the John Birch Society. Founded a few years earlier, the group quickly became a significant force to the right of the Republican Party, known for its obsessively anti-communist politics. The Birchers combined hostility to New Deal social programs with lurid conspiracies, famously campaigning against “the horrors of fluoridation,” a supposed Red plot.

The group fiercely opposed civil rights. An entry in one 1963 Birch newsletter railed against the upcoming March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King would give his “I Have a Dream” speech: “the only good Americans who should have anything to do with this Communist-instigated mob in any way, or pay any attention to it in Washington, are the police required to maintain law and order.”

Edgar Uihlein Jr. supported politicians who embraced segregation. In early 1962, he sponsored a speech that brought to Chicago a former U.S. Army general named Edwin Walker. Walker toured the country attacking supposed communist conspiracies and civil rights, while celebrating the Southern defeat of Reconstruction, which he labeled “the tyranny within our own white race.”

The Anti-Defamation League, which tracked far-right figures in the period, has archives showing Edgar Uihlein Jr.’s involvement with several other groups and campaigns, including a $1,000 contribution to the presidential campaign of segregationist George Wallace in 1968. It’s not clear when, if ever, Uihlein’s association with the John Birch Society ended. As late as 1977, the founder of the group wrote a long letter to him asking for money.

Edgar Uihlein Jr.’s second child, Dick, born in 1945, grew up in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Lake Bluff and got the same sort of blue-blood education (Phillips Andover, Stanford) as his father (Hotchkiss, Princeton). Amid the social upheavals of the ’60s, Dick Uihlein didn’t waver: He married Liz before graduating from college in 1967, joined the family business and immersed himself in conservative politics. He worked on the 1969 Illinois congressional campaign of Phil Crane, who won a crowded Republican primary in an upset on a hardline anti-tax and anti-communist platform.

In one of the only interviews he’s ever given, Dick Uihlein told National Review in 2018 that he got his politics from his father, who often went by Ed. At the family breakfast table growing up, Uihlein recalled, “My father would talk about the importance of capitalism and the evils of socialism.” Dick said that same year that “my father shared many of the same values that I have, conservative values.”

Dick Uihlein said he shared his father’s values in court testimony in 2018.

Dick and Liz Uihlein continue to revere Edgar Jr., who died in 2005. Dick Uihlein named the family foundation after his father, and it now sends tens of millions of dollars to right-wing institutions. Among the recipients of the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation’s grants are the Federalist Society and think tanks that have pushed misleading claims about the 2020 election, such as the Conservative Partnership Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability, as the Daily Beast reported.

The Uihleins’ political giving reflects these longings for a bygone era. Dick Uihlein is a major funder of the American Principles Project, which runs ads attacking what it calls “transgender ideology,” abortion and the teaching of “critical race theory.”

Last year, Uihlein weighed in on recalling four school board members in a small town north of Milwaukee because of their support for COVID-19 safety protocols and “equity” training for teachers. More recently, in his home state of Illinois, Uihlein has spent more than $50 million to back the Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, who has drawn criticism for saying the Holocaust “doesn’t even compare” to the toll of abortions and for accusing Democrats of “putting perversion into our schools” for adopting a sex ed bill that includes information about gender identity and same-sex couples.

The Uihleins were huge beneficiaries of a tax provision promoted by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., that was included in the Trump tax overhaul and are continuing to support the Wisconsin senator and fund attack ads against his opponent.

In 2018, when the New York Times published a profile labeling the Uihleins “The Most Powerful Conservative Couple You’ve Never Heard Of,” the company began to get calls from angry liberal customers canceling their accounts, a former sales staffer recalled. A website, Refuse Uline, was launched that lists alternatives to the company. But as the company’s only shareholders, the Uihleins only have to answer to themselves.

When COVID-19 hit, as Liz Uihlein campaigned against shutdowns and required workers to return to the office before vaccines were available, demand for Uline’s shipping and cleaning supplies surged. In 2020, as other businesses shuttered, sales at Uline shot up 14% to $6.5 billion, according to an internal report obtained by ProPublica.

Stung by a worker shortage, Uihlein emailed Wisconsin’s Democratic governor in July 2021 urging him to “get government out of the way” by immediately cutting people off of expanded federal unemployment benefits that had helped people weather the pandemic. Uline needed to fill 500 jobs, she noted in the email, which ProPublica obtained via a public records request. The governor did not oblige.

It’s not clear when the Uihleins, who are both 77, will retire. But the next generation is in place. The couple’s adult children are executives at the company, and they have begun to give money to federal candidates — all conservatives. Dick and Liz Uihlein, meanwhile, have been taking steps to preserve their multibillion-dollar empire for their descendants by shielding it from the hated estate tax.

Over the years, they have gradually transferred the shares of Uline into a so-called “dynasty trust,” which now appears to hold a majority of the company, according to the tax records and business documents filed in Florida. Bob Lord, a lawyer at tax reform group Patriotic Millionaires, said dynasty trusts are typically designed to avoid estate and other transfer taxes for ultra rich families.

“The goal is for the company to remain in the family for possibly hundreds of years,” he said. “And the wealth generated by the company will accumulate untouched by estate tax.”

 

Wisconsin Demcracy Campaign:

Influence Peddler for August 2022 –Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein

https://www.wisdc.org/news/press-releases/136-press-release-2022

August 1, 2022

(This profile updates information and figures in an earlier April 2016 feature about Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein.)

Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, of Lake Forest, Ill., were among the top contributors nationwide for the past decade to GOP and conservative candidates and causes in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

In the first 18 months of the 2022 election cycle, the Uihleins doled out $38 million to support federal GOP candidates, party committees, and Super PACs, ranking them 2nd among all individual contributors.

Some of the couple’s contributions went to the campaigns of several ultra-rightwing members of Congress and Big Lieproponents who claim the 2020 presidential election was rigged, including Republican Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, of Arizona, Marjorie Taylor Green, of Georgia, Mo Brooks, of Alabama, and Madison Cawthorn, of North Carolina.

Richard Uihlein also contributed $2.5 million to Team PAC, a Super PAC that supports disgraced GOP U.S. Senate candidate and former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 following allegations that he sexually assaulted his hairstylist.

In the 2020 election cycle, the Uihleins spent about $75 million to back federal GOP candidates, committees, and outside electioneering groups that disclose their fundraising and spending. That outlay made the Uihleins the fourth largest donors during that cycle.

In the 2018 election cycle, the Uihleins contributed about $38 million to federal GOP candidates and committees, ranking them 4th among all donors that time around.

In the 2016 election cycle, the couple contributed $22 million to federal candidates, parties, and Super PACs. Among their largest beneficiaries was former GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

In addition to their contributions to federal committees and candidates, the couple doled out $2 million to the state Republican Party and another $2.11 million to Wisconsin legislative and statewide candidates between January 2010 and December 2021.

The top state recipients of Uihlein contributions between January 2010 and December 2021 were:
Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $1.31 million;
Walker, $319,500;
Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, $166,500;
Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $60,200;
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn, $40,000.

Uihlein flushed $4.5 million into a Super PAC, Fighting for Wisconsin, that backed Nicholson’s 2022 run for governor. In 2018, Uihlein blew nearly $11 million to back Nicholson’s unsuccessful bid to be the GOP U.S. Senate candidate.

Richard Uihlein also serves as president of the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, which provides grants to civic organizations as well as rightwing groups and causes. Some of those foundation grants were made to groups connected to efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

Between 2014 and 2020, the foundation has spent about $91 million mostly on grants to groups, including:
* American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
* American Majority
* Conservative Partnership Institute
* The Federalist Society
* Heritage Foundation
* Turning Point USA
Americans for Prosperity

Donor Organizations
1. Illinois Policy Institute (Non-profit)
2. Think Freely Media (Non-profit)
Donation Recipients
1. American Conservative Union (ACU) Foundation (Non-profit)
2. Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) (Non-profit)
3. Free the People (Non-profit)
4. Independent Institute (Non-profit)
5. Network of enlightened Women (NeW) (Non-profit)
6. Philanthropy Roundtable (Non-profit)
7. Pro-Life Action League (Non-profit)
8. The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) (Non-profit)

 

The Most Powerful Conservative Couple You’ve Never Heard OfThe Republican Power Couple Helping to Shape the 2018 Midterm

The billionaire Republican donors have poured money into groups backing right-wing candidates, helping to shape the 2018 midterm elections.

By Stephanie Saul and Danny Hakim

June 7, 2018

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/us/politics/liz-dick-uihlein-republican-donors.html

Meet Dick and Liz Uihlein.

They spell it like this, but they spell their company name like this. “Uline” — it sounds familiar, right? You’ve probably used their boxes.

The Wisconsin-based company has grown to be much more than boxes. It’s a packaging supply giant with over 6,000 employees. The family comes across as unassuming in these corporate videos. But when it comes to politics, they’re anything but. The Mercers, the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson already have the name recognition, but the Uihleins may be the biggest Republican donors you’ve never heard of.

They’re pouring their massive wealth into super PACs backing insurgent right-wing candidates, already spending roughly $26 million on federal elections this cycle. Candidates backed by Uihlein generally support the Trump agenda, sometimes veering even further to the right. “A proven conservative fighting for Mississippi values.”

Earlier this year Mr. Uihlein gave $2.5 million to Jeanne Ives for governor in their home state of Illinois. She ran this ad against incumbent Bruce Rauner in the primary. “Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls bathroom.” The ad was criticized as transphobic. “That’s exactly what, typically, a transgender man looks like —” “No, it’s not.” Ives lost. “Roy Moore, leadership we can trust.”

Mr. Uihlein also gave over half a million dollars to super PACs supporting Roy Moore in Alabama. Moore’s campaign was compromised when several women accused him of sexually assaulting them as teens. “I trusted Mr. Moore, because he was the district attorney.” A Democrat ended up winning that Senate race.

Mr. Uihlein contributed half a million dollars to a super PAC behind Patrick Morrisey. He turned the “drain the swamp” rallying cry into something resembling a terrorist threat in this campaign ad. “Let’s not just change Washington, let’s blow it up and reinvent it. That‘s better.” Morrisey won the Republican primary in West Virginia, after President Trump disparaged his controversial opponent.

“Mr. President, if you are watching right now, let me tell you: Your tweet was huge.” Sometimes the Uihleins support outsider candidates who wouldn’t stand a chance without the money. Wisconsin voters hadn’t heard of Kevin Nicholson, a political newcomer trying to unseat Democrat Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator.

Then Mr. Uihlein donated over $7 million to super PACs supporting Nicholson. The Republican Party has endorsed a different candidate in that race. But polls suggest that Nicholson is now a strong contender. The Uihleins spend the most in their home states of Illinois and Wisconsin, but they fund candidates across the country.

 

 

“Power provides psychological compensation: it impels a person who cannot rule himself to rule others.”

— Richard Pipes