Richard (Dick) Uihlein, son of Edgar Uihlein, is an American businessman and billionaire who co-founded ULINE Corporation in 1980, a shipping and packaging materials company headquartered in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Uihlein has contributed tens of millions to conservative campaigns and causes. Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote in 2015 that the Uihleins "are quickly becoming the Koch brothers of Wisconsin politics."
- 1 Bankrolling the U.S. Senate Campaign of Kevin Nicholson
- 2 2016 Election Influence
- 2.1 Funding Club for Growth
- 2.2 Funding for Senator Ron Johnson
- 2.3 Funding for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
- 2.4 Funding for Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz
- 2.5 Funding to Defeat Donald Trump in Presidential Primary
- 2.6 Funding Americas Pac to Defeat Hillary Clinton
- 2.7 Funding Liberty Principles PAC for Illinois Races
- 2.8 Other Contributions
- 3 Wisconsin DNR to Swap Lakefront Property with Scott Walker Benefactor Liz Uihlein
- 4 Liz Uihlein Named to the Trump Victory Committee
- 5 Bankrolling Wisconsin Politicians
- 6 Illinois Election Spending
- 7 2014 Election Cycle
- 8 2012 Election Cycle
- 9 Ed Uihlein Family Foundation
- 10 References
Bankrolling the U.S. Senate Campaign of Kevin Nicholson
Uihlein is bankrolling "Solutions for Wisconsin", a super PAC supporting the Senate campaign of Republican Kevin Nicholson, as of July 2017 the billionaire has contributed $3.5 million to the super PAC, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Kevin Nicholson, a former Democrat, joined the Republican primary on July 26, 2017, running against incumbent Senator Tammy Baldwin.
2016 Election Influence
According to the Federal Election Commission, Richard Uihlein contributed a total of $19,068,500 to super PACs, Hybrid PACs and Historical Soft Money Party Accounts while his wife Liz has contributed $2,525,000 (As of July 22, 2016). Uihlein is the fourth largest contributor to outside spending groups in the 2016 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, spending a total of $13,658,500 in disclosed outside spending. (As of July 22, 2016).
Funding Club for Growth
Uihlein contributed $3,250,000 to Club for Growth Action in the 2016 election cycle; the 527 PAC serves as the outside spending and advertising arm of the national 501(c)(4) right-wing non-profit group Club for Growth.
Club for Growth Action has spent a total of $13,144,808 in the 2016 election cycle, most of the group's independent expenditures are comprised of negative advertising against Democrats, Donald Trump and challenging incumbent Republicans in their primaries. (Spending totals as of July 22, 2016).
Funding for Senator Ron Johnson
According to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Restoration PAC poured money into Wisconsin in support of Ron Johnson's re-election bid, attacking Democratic challenger Russ Feingold's campaign. That spending includes $500,000 on TV advertising in Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Madison last summer.
Restoration PAC has put out ads attacking both Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold.
Funding for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein contributed a combined $5 million to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's Unintimidated PAC in 2015, placing them alongside right-wing billionaire donor Diane Hendricks as top contributors to the super PAC that supported Walker's failed 2016 presidential bid.
Our American Revival
Funding for Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz
Trusted Leadership PAC
Trusted Leadership was one of a number of super PACs that supported Ted Cruz's failed 2016 presidential campaign. Trusted Leadership filed its statement of organization with the FEC on February 19, 2016, and serves as an umbrella organization to four other pro-Cruz super PACs: Keep the Promise PAC, Keep the Promise I, Keep the Promise III and Keep the Promise to Veterans.
Keep the Promise PAC
On January 7, 2016, Politico reported that Uihlein donated $1 million to another Cruz super PAC, Keep the Promise PAC. "He is one of the top five courted GOP donors," Ryun told CNN. "For us to land him is a good shot in the arm for Ted, and it really sets the stage going into Iowa."
FEC records indicate Uihlein made a $1 million contribution to the PAC on January 6, 2016.
Funding to Defeat Donald Trump in Presidential Primary
Uihlein contributed heavily to the conservative, anti-Trump independent expenditure group Our Principles PAC. The single largest disclosed donation Uihlein has made was a $2 million contribution to Our Principles PAC on March 21, 2016.
Funding Americas Pac to Defeat Hillary Clinton
Uihlein is the principal source of funding for Americas PAC, contributing $500,000 to the group in 2016 (as of July 20), $500,000 in 2015 and $670,000 in 2014. The conservative group spent $339,740 on advertising opposing Hillary Clinton in 2015, $141,600 on advertising opposing Russ Feingold (D-WI) in 2016, $92,832 against Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and $233,064 against Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) (as of July 20).
Funding Liberty Principles PAC for Illinois Races
Uihlein accounts for nearly all of the funding to Liberty Principles PAC having contributed $5,050,000. The Super PAC is run by Dan Proft, a former conservative radio commentator and 2010 Illinois Gubernatorial candidate who's failed campaign was bankrolled by Uihlein. The Super PAC supports conservatives running for the Illinois General Assembly.
Other large contributions Uihlein has made to right-wing and Republican outside spending groups are noted below (As of July 20, 2016):
- $800,000 to Senate Conservatives Action (multiple donations)
- $500,000 to Citizen PAC, Inc. on January 21, 2016
- $500,000 to Senate Conservative Reform Action PAC on June 2, 2016
- $255,000 to Madison Project (multiple donations)
- $250,000 to FreedomWorks for America on August 31, 2015
- $100,000 to Carly Committee for America on September 8, 2015
- $76,000 to Illinois Families First on February 26, 2016
- $45,000 to Fight for Tomorrow (multiple donations)
- $25,000 to Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund on January 16, 2016
Wisconsin DNR to Swap Lakefront Property with Scott Walker Benefactor Liz Uihlein
Lee Bergquist reported on September 19, 2015 that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had agreed to sell 1.75 acres of lakefront property to Elizabeth Uihlein. The land would give one of Uihlein's other properties direct access to the lake. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the agreement initially "call(ed) for the DNR to sell Uihlein 765 feet of frontage on Rest Lake in the Town of Manitowish Waters for $275,000. She currently owns an adjacent 11-unit condominium complex without lake access."
George Meyer, executive director of the World Wildlife Federation and former Wisconsin Natural Resources Secretary said that "selling prime shoreland on a northern Wisconsin lake is a terrible precedent... It appears to be some kind of special treatment." In 2013 the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature ordered the DNR to put 10,000 acres up for sale by June, 2017. Uihlein privately contacted the DNR about purchasing the land, which was not initially put up for sale. "Records show the DNR received two appraisals — for $238,000 and $384,000 — and negotiated a sale closer to the lower appraisal. The price of $275,000 is $359 per foot of lake frontage," Lee Bergquist reports. There was no public input on the agreed upon deal.
On September 23 the governor-appointed Natural Resources Board voted unanimously to put the sale on hold. The DNR reworked the deal to make it a land swap on July 13, 2016. Under the new deal Uihlein would give the DNR 42.7 acres of land for the lakefront property.
The Uihlein's have been an imposing presence in the Manitowish Waters community and have financed a number of local projects. A $2.4 million paved bike path was completed in 2014 and a $1 million lakefront pavilion project was recently built, both paid for by the right-wing megadonors. They also own a hotel, a condominium complex, coffee shop, restaurant, spa and two gift shops in the business district. Their activity has been controversial in the small town where some members of the community have expressed concern over the Uihleins' commitment to protecting the environment. Liz Uihlein was cited for violating the Vilas County shoreline ordinance when she clear-cut trees on one of her properties close to the lake.
Both Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein contributed heavily to Scott Walker's gubernatorial campaigns as well as a combined $5 million to Walker's Unintimidated PAC during his presidential campaign.
Liz Uihlein Named to the Trump Victory Committee
On May 24, 2016 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Elizabeth Uihlein was selected by the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to sit on the Trump Victory Committee. The committee will raise funds for the Republican National Committee, the Trump campaign and 11 state party committees.
Bankrolling Wisconsin Politicians
Richard Uihlein has deep ties to the state of Wisconsin, where his great-grandfather was a co-founder of Schlitz Brewing Company. His shipping company Uline is headquartered in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein have used their massive fortunes to bankroll various conservative politicians in the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin campaign finance laws dictate that the contribution limit for a gubernatorial candidate is $10,000, however, due to a 1987 change to campaign finance laws in the state, the normal donation limits are suspended for a candidate facing a recall for a period of time. In 2011, Governor Walker received large checks from multiple supporters including $284,000 from the Uihleins.
Listed below are contribution totals made by the Uihleins to various state-level campaigns, based on data compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign as of May 2016.
- $290,000 to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as of 2016 ($114,500 of which was contributed by Elizabeth Uihlein)
- $50,000 to Prosser Victory Recount Fund (Former Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser)
- $21,000 to Wisconsin State Senator Van Wanggaard
- $17,700 to Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch ($10,200 of which contributed by Elizabeth Uihlein)
- $10,000 to Wisconsin State Supreme Court Candidate James P. Daley
- $10,000 to Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman
- $5,000 to Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley
- $5,000 to Attorney General Brad Schimel
- $4,500 to Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald ($2,500 of which contributed by Elizabeth Uihlein)
Illinois Election Spending
According to the Illinois State Board of Elections Uihlein has made 263 contributions to politicians and organizations in the state of Illinois, totaling $10,410,550 as f April 2016.
Supporting Millionaire Bruce Rauner's 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign
The large contributions to Rauner were permitted due to an Illinois state law which states that if a candidate puts $250,000 of their own money into a statewide race contribution limits for all candidates in the race are nullified.
Uihlein was Investigated Over Contributions to Rauner
Uihlein was investigated shortly after the election for his contributions to Rauner. A state law passed in 2008 in Illinois states that "Any business entity whose contracts with State agencies, in the aggregate, annually total more than $50,000, and any affiliated entities or affiliated persons of such business entity, are prohibited from making any contributions to any political committees established to promote the candidacy of (i) the officeholder responsible for awarding the contracts or (ii) any other declared candidate for that office." As the State-Journal Register reported, "according to comptroller's records, Uline has been paid more than $80,000 for purchases by agencies under the governor in fiscal year 2015, which ends June 30. The previous year, fiscal 2014, such agency purchases from Uline totaled more than $86,000. The total was about $70,000 in fiscal 2013 and $100,000 in fiscal 2012." It was determined that Uihlein did not break the law "because the small purchases weren’t under 'let or awarded' contracts, a new state procurement officer (said)."
Uihlein Bankrolled Proft's Short-Lived Primary Campaign
Uihlein contributed $595,000 to the failed primary campaign of conservative commentator Dan Proft in late 2010, this amount comprised of over 50% of all contribution's to Proft's campaign. Proft received less than 8% of the vote in the 2010 Illinois Republican Gubernatorial Primary.
Proft now runs Liberty Principles PAC.
2014 Election Cycle
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Uihlein was the 10th largest contributor to special interest groups during the 2014 election cycle, contributing $4,676,000 to conservative outside spending groups.
2012 Election Cycle
According to the Center for Responsive Politics Uihlein was the 34th largest contributor to outside spending groups during the 2012 election cycle, donating $1,855,000 to conservative groups.
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation
Richard Uihlein serves as the director and president of the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit located in Lake Forest, Illinois bearing the name of Uihlein's father Edgar.
Lucia Uihlein Higgins is listed as the group's director/secretary and Fredericka Anne Goldenberg (Uihlein) is listed as director/treasurer.
According to their 2014 form 990, "the Ed Uihlein Foundation is organized and operated for the sole purpose of making cash contributions to qualifying public charities. The Foundation does not engage in any other direct charitable activities."
Total Revenue: $13,563,265
- Contributions, gifts, grants, etc., received: $13,417,794
- Dividends and interest from securities: $120,990
- Net gain from sale of assets : $24,479
- Other income: $2
Total expenses and disbursements: $10,355,821
- Compensation of officers, directors, trustees, etc: $0
- Accounting fees: $6,300
- Taxes: $2,573
- Other expenses: $31,104
- Contributions, gifts, grants paid: $10,315,844
Total assets: $10,468,800
- Cash: $7,074,076
- Investments - corporate stock: $3,394,724
- Net assets: $10,468,800
Richard Uihlein contributed $13,417,794 to the group during the 2014 calendar year.
Ed Uihlein Foundation Made Grants To Many Right-Wing Organizations
The Ed Uihlein Foundation's latest IRS filing reveals that a large number of the grant recipients are non-profits devoted to promoting a right-wing political agenda:
- $3,000 to Accuracy in Academia
- 15,000 to Accuracy in Media
- $100,000 to the Center for Competitive Politics
- $50,000 to the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute
- $500 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute
- $3,500 to the Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense
- $400,000 to the Foundation for Government Accountability
- $5,000 to the Independent Institute
- $1,000,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute
- $200,000 to the Institute for Humane Studies
- $50,000 to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute
- $300,000 to the Landmark Legal Foundation
- $200,000 to the Media Research Center
- $50,000 to the National Legal and Policy Center
- $100,000 to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
- $10,000 to Pro Life Action League
- $200,000 to the Federalist Society
- $10,000 to the Heartland Institute
- $20,000 to the Heritage Foundation
- $1,251,390 to the Jack Miller Center
- $200,000 to the Leadership Institute
- $300,000 to Think Freely Media
- $50,000 to Turning Point USA
- $100,000 You Can Run But You Can't Hide International
- ULINE, About Us: Company History, corporate website, accessed on April 5, 2016.
- Daniel Bice, "Uihleins spend big to help Ron Johnson defend Senate seat from Russ Feingold," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 4, 2015.
- Bill Glauber, [ http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2017/07/26/former-marine-kevin-nicholson-launches-gop-wisconsin-senate-bid/511893001/ Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson launches GOP Wisconsin Senate bid against Tammy Baldwin], Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2017.
- Federal Election Commission, Contributor search results: Richard Uihlein, FEC, accessed on July 22, 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, 2016 Top Donors to Outside Spending Groups, opensecrets.org, accessed April 27, 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Club for Growth Action, opensecrets.org, accessed July 22, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, FEC Forc 3X Report of Receipts and Disbursements Mid Year Report, FEC filing, July 30, 2015.
- Federal Election Commission, FEC Form 3X REPORT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS Year End Report, FEC filing, January 29, 2016.
- Daniel Bice, Big money pouring into Senate race, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 23, 2015.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Unintimidated PAC: contributors, 2016 cycle, opensecrets.org, accessed April 27, 2016.
- Dan Balz, Scott Walker forms committee in preparation for 2016 presidential bid, The Washington Post, January 27, 2015.
- Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Influence Peddler of the Month: Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, organizational website, April 1, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, April Monthly FEC filing: Trusted Leadership PAC, FEC filing, April 20, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Statement of Organization: Trusted Leadership PAC, FEC filing, February 19, 2016.
- Fredreka Schouten, First look: Ted Cruz allies launch new super PAC, USA Today, March 4, 2016.
- Daniel Strauss, Cruz super PAC scoops up $1 million donation from megadonor Uihlein, Politico', January 7, 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Uihlein, Richard: Donor Detail, opensecrets.org, accessed May 13, 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Search: Richard Uihlein, Donors, opensecrets.org, accessed May 13, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, July Quarterly Report: Americas PAC, FEC filing, July 15, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Itemized Receipts: Americas PAC, FEC filing, January 29, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Year-end FEC report: Americas PAC, FEC filing, January 29, 2016.
- Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures: Americas PAC, FEC filing, April 14, 2016.
- National Institute on Money in State Politics, Uihelin, Richard Ellis (Dick), Followthemoney.org, accessed June 20, 2016.
- Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Liberty Principles PAC, Illinois Sunshine, accessed June 20, 2016.
- Lee Bergquist, DNR agrees to sell prime lake frontage to big Scott Walker donor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 19, 2015.
- Lee Bergquist, DNR board tables sale of lakefront land to Walker donor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 23, 2015.
- Lee Bergquist, Lake frontage land trade proposed in Vilas County between DNR, Uihlein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 14, 2016.
- Lee Bergquist, Manitowish Waters' main benefactors get mixed reviews, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 16, 2015.
- Bill Glauber, Diane Hendricks, Liz Uihlein to raise funds for Trump, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 24, 2016.
- Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Campaign Finance Database, organizational website, accessed May 13, 2016.
- Andrea Seabrook, Sky's The Limit In Campaign Cash For Wis. Governor, National Public Radio, June 5, 2012.
- Illinois State Board of Elections, Contributions List: Richard Uihlein, governmental website, accessed on April 25, 2016.
- National Institute on Money in State Politics, Rauner, Burce Vincent, followthemoney.org, accessed June 20, 2016.
- Illinois state Board of Elections, Contribution Limits Off Search, government website, accessed June 20, 2016.
- Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Compiled Statutes: (30 ILCS 500/50-37) Sec. 50-37. Prohibition of political contributions., governmental website, accessed on April 5, 2016.
- Bernard Schoenburg, $2M Rauner donor's company does business with state, has exceeded $50K limit past 4 years, The State Journal-Register, June 13, 2015.
- Bernard Schoenburg, Bernard Schoenburg: Election results don't change Rauner stand, The State Journal-Register, March 23, 2016.
- National Institute on Money in State Politics, Proft, Dan, followthemoney.org, accessed June 20, 2016.
- Paul Merrion, The Koch of conservative politics in Illinois: Uihlein, Crain's Chicago Business, September 28, 2013.
- Center for Responsive Politics, 2014 top donors to outside spending groups, opensecrets.org, accessed April 27, 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, 2012 top donors to outside spending groups, opensecrets.org, accessed April 27, 2016.
- Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, IRS Form 990 2014, Internal Revenue Service, May 26, 2015.