Richard Uihlein and his wife, Liz, own the Uline shipping corporation and are longtime mega-donors to ultra-conservatie politicians and causes. As billionaires, they were “among the biggest donors to the 2022 midterms,” according to Politico, and in 2018 they donated $21 million to Republican candidates, making them the largest donors to the party that year. The Uihleins have given millions to the Club for Growth and made six-figure contributions to the Republican National Committee and to the party’s House and Senate campaign arms. In the past, they have bankrolled anti-establishment politicians such as Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reported that in 2021 the Uihleins donated $17.3 million to right-wing super PACs, and in 2020 Richard Uihlein was the fifth-biggest donor to outside political spending groups in that year’s federal elections. His donations totaled more than $63 million and went to a number of super PACs, including America First Action, Club for Growth Action, the Senate Leadership Fund, and Restoration PAC.
The Uihlein foundation has also funded far-right media groups, including The Federalist, The Daily Caller News Foundation, the Media Research Center, and the Real Clear Foundation ($350,000). In the same year, the foundation gave $400,000 to the Center for Security Policy, an anti-Muslim hate group. Between 2014 and 2019, the Uihleins gave more than $11 million to the Foundation for Government Accountability, a State Policy Network member that advocated for dropping people from Medicaid during the pandemic.
January 6, 2021
- The Uihleins donated more than $4 million to the Tea Party Patriots, one of the groups that participated in the rally at the Ellipse before the attack on the Capitol.
- Uihlein also donated to Turning Point USA, a group that chartered buses to bring its members to the rally.
The Big Lie
- Several candidates supported by Uihlein for elected office in the 2022 midterm election cycle are major election deniers. Key recipients include Doug Mastriano for Pennsylvania governor and Jim Marchant the Republican Nevada Secretary of State nominee.
- The Uihleins donated $750,000 to FDRLST, a media outlet that spread disinformation about the 2020 elections.
- The Ed Uihlein Family Foundation has donated millions to groups that challenged the outcome of the 2020 election, such as such as the Conservative Partnership Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability, according to The Daily Beast. The foundation gave $16.8 million in 2020.
- Richard Uihlein gave $1.25 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute, which employs Cleta Mitchell, the attorney for the Trump campaign who was on Trump’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger pushing the latter to “find” 11,780 more votes for Trump.
- Uihlein also donated to the Federalist Society, the conservative association of lawyers that includes Trump’s former attorney John Eastman and Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney-Barrett.
- The Texas Public Policy Forum (TPPF), which drew up a series of post-election scenarios in conjunction with the Claremont Institute, received $50,000 from Uihlein.
- American Conservative, a media outlet that claimed Democrats had stolen the election, received $25,000 from Uihlein.
- Judicial Watch also received $25,000 and challenged the results of the election.
- Sons of Liberty, a conservative media outlet that broadcast claims of fraud after the election, was given $300,000.
- The Brennan Center for Justice reports that Uihlein has donated to secretary of state candidates who promote The Big Lie, including Jody Hice in Georgia and Jim Marchant in Nevada.
Post-2020 Election Subversion
- Restoration Action, the 501(c4) associated with Restoration PAC, has spent a reported $2 million on attack ads targeting members of Congress in three states who were likely to vote for the For the People Act to protect voting rights.
- The Voter Reference Foundation (VoteRef), a project of Restoration Action PAC, has targeted midwestern swing states and is posting voter roll information online, although this may expose voters to identity theft. The group claims it is addressing discrepancies in voting data, although experts have debunked this.
- VoteRef hired Metric Media to conduct data procurement and analysis. A 2021 report from Columbia University’s Tow Center found that Metric Media has a network of 1300 websites that claim to offer local news across the U.S. It also accepts money from political interest groups targeting swing states.
- Uihlein donated $3 million to the Foundation for Government Accountability, which launched an investigation into how election officials spent private money that had been donated to shore up election systems prior to the 2020 vote.
- Restoration PAC, which receives most of its funding from the Uihleins, spent at least $78,000 on election advertising in Green Bay, Wisconsin and the surrounding Brown County area in the run-up to the April 2022 primary.