Campaigns supporting or opposing Ohio Issue 1 have raised a combined $32.25 million. More than 80% of contributions for and against Issue 1 came from out-of-state donors. Issue 1, which is on a special election ballot for Aug. 8, 2023, would make three changes to the ballot measure process in Ohio, including increasing the voter approval threshold for new constitutional amendments to 60%, expanding the signature distribution requirement for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments, and eliminating the signature cure period for initiated amendments.
Protect Our Constitution is leading the campaign in support of Issue 1. Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-12) and Ohio House Majority Whip James Hoops (R-81) are co-chairs of Protect Our Constitution. Protect Our Kids Ohio registered to support Issue 1, as did Protect Women Ohio, which is also leading the opposition campaign to a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to establish a state constitutional right to abortion, contraception, and other reproductive matters. Voters will decide on the abortion-related initiative in November. Together, these PACs received $15.55 million. However, $10.01 million, or 64% of the support’s total funds, was for Protect Women Ohio, which is spending funds on two ballot measures. The average contribution to the three PACs was $17,438, and the median contribution was $100. About 84.41% of the contributions came from individuals or entities with out-of-state addresses.
Protect Women Ohio is supporting Ohio Issue 1, in addition to opposing the abortion-related initiative. Issue 1 would require a 60% vote, rather than the current simple majority (50% plus one) vote, on future constitutional amendments, including those on the ballot in Nov. 2023. On July 25, the abortion-related initiative, which is a constitutional amendment, qualified for the ballot. Under Issue 1, a 60% vote would be required on the abortion-related initiative.
One Person One Vote is leading the campaign in opposition to Issue 1. The PAC received $16.66 million. The average contribution to the PAC was $8,944, and the median contribution was $25. About 78.48% of the contributions came from individuals or entities with out-of-state addresses.
With $30 million between the support and opposition PACs, Issue 1 is the most expensive ballot measure in Ohio since 2017, when voters decided on the record-setting Issue 2, which saw $77.41 in contributions. Issue 2 was related to state agencies and prescription drug prices.
Who are the top donors to the committees supporting Issue 1?
The following were the top donors to the three PACs supporting Issue 1:
- Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a 501(c)(4) based in Washington, D.C., that seeks to end abortion procedures in the U.S., contributed $6.36 million to Protect Women Ohio, which formed to oppose the citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to establish a state constitutional right to abortion, contraception, and other reproductive matters. Protect Women Ohio is also spending funds to oppose Issue 1.
- Richard Uihlein, CEO of Uline Corporation, contributed $4.00 million to the Protect Our Constitution PAC. Uihlein, a businessman based in Illinois, has donated to Republicans and conservative nonprofits. Uihlein contributed to a federal Super PAC, Save Our Constitution, which lobbied for Issue 1 in the Legislature. Uihlein has also reported contributions to Ron DeSantis for President and Ted Cruz for Senate since June 1.
- Protect Women Ohio Action, Inc., a committee incorporated in Arlington, Virginia, donated $4.00 million to Protect Women Ohio. Protect Women Ohio Action, Inc., received funding from two donors, The Concord Fund, also known as the Judicial Crisis Network, and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.
- The Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, and Diocese of Columbus, which are ecclesiastical jurisdictions of the Roman Catholic Church in Ohio, contributed a combined $900,000 to Protect Women Ohio.
- The American Principles Project, a 501(c)(4) organization based in Arlington, Virginia, that has provided funds to the Restoration PAC and Fight for Schools and Families, donated $185,000 to the Protect Our Kids Ohio PAC, which registered to support Issue 1.
Who are the top donors to the committee opposing Issue 1?
- The Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization based in Washington, D.C., that has supported progressive policies and ballot measures, donated $2.64 million. In 2022, the Sixteen Thirty Fund contributed to campaigns supporting certain abortion policies, minimum wage increases, and voting and election policies.
- The Tides Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization based in San Francisco, California, contributed $1.88 million. In 2023, the Tide Foundation also provided funds to the campaign for a ballot initiative to prohibit foreign spending in elections in Maine.
- The American Advocacy Action Fund, based in Burlingame, California, contributed $1.00 million to the campaign.
- The Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, donated $1.00 million.
- Karla Jurvetson, a resident of Palo Alto, California, provided $998,869. Jurvetson is a physician and political donor, who has also contributed to the Biden Victory Fund and Emily’s List, among others, since June 1.
Campaigns were required to file contributions and expenditures information for transactions through July 19, 2023. The next campaign finance deadline for the special election is September 15, which is 38 days after the election.