Ed Uihlein Family Foundation
The Ed Uihlein Family Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization controlled by right-wing mega-donor Richard Uihlein. The foundation, named for Richard's father, has been a vehicle for the Uihlein family to conduct advocacy for far-right issues and influence elections. Past recipients of grants from the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation have included groups linked to the Koch brothers such as Americans for Prosperity, as well as the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for Competitive Politics (now known as the Institute for Free Speech).
News and Controversies
Misused Donations to Texas Congressman Steve Stockman
In 2013, former Texas Republican Congressman Steve Stockman solicited a $350,000 donation from the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation. The intention of the donation was to fund a "Freedom House" dormitory in Washington D.C. to provide right-wing interns and young professionals accommodation when working in the capital. However, according to the testimony of FBI agents at Stockman's corruption trial, the funding was placed into an empty bank account for a non-profit controlled by Stockman called Life Without Limits. Within a week, Stockman and his aids used $82,000 of the funding to pay for personal credit card debt, campaign costs, a friend's substance abuse rehabilitation treatment and an employee's wife's funeral.
Richard Uihlein testified at the trial about his perception of Stockman, stating “I felt they were trustworthy. And I trusted that they would spend the money the way they said.” In total, Stockman was accused of stealing $775,000. Stockman's attorney argued that he was tricked by his aides into misusing the donation. Two of Stockman's aides plead guilty to charges related to misappropriation of charitable funding. In November 2018, Stockman was found guilty on 23 counts, including money laundering, conspiracy and making false statements, sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay about $1 million in restitution.
Funding Union-Busting Groups
The Ed Uihlein Family Foundation provided funding to numerous right-wing groups that have litigated a variety of cases attacking labor unions. The foundation has contributed large significant sums of money to the Illinois Policy Institute, whose legal arm, the Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the main representatives of the plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court case ''Janus v. AFSCME Council 31''. Plaintiffs in the Janus case were funded by a wide array of right-wing corporate interests and the decision is responsible for undermining union ability to collect dues from non-union members, regardless of the benefits unions provide non-union members.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation also litigated on behalf of the plaintiffs in Harris v. Quinn, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2014. The Harris case also attacked union dues collection powers similar to Janus. The decision invalidated the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act which had allowed fee sharing arrangements and the ability for unions to collect dues from all workers they benefit, setting the stage for Janus several years later.
Through supporting the Illinois Policy Institute/Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation aligned itself with other far-right and anti-union donors such as Donors Trust, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking, and the Charles Koch Institute.
Defending Donald Trump
Richard Uihlein has openly supported President Donald Trump, even attending his inauguration wearing a baseball hat which read “01.20.17 just can’t wait.” He has also used the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation to continue supporting Trump during his presidency that has been shrouded by allegations of corruption and impropriety.
The foundation is a major donor to the National Legal and Policy Center, contributing $50,000 annually between 2010 and 2016. The National Legal Policy Center has been suing Democratic politicians and affiliated groups while defending Republicans for decades. The group gained national attention in 1993 when it sued to open First Lady Hillary Clinton's healthcare task force meetings. Recently the group has sought to bring a legal challenge against special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the impropriety of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Peter Flaherty, Chairman of the group, said he became interested in challenging the Mueller probe after reading an op-ed which argued the appointment of the special counsel was unconstitutional. The National Legal and Policy Center hired Paul Kamenar to mount a legal challenge against Mueller's appointment, arguing he was not a constitutionally valid special counsel because he should be considered a “principal officer of the United States,” and therefore should have been appointed by the president. The challenge brought by the National Legal Policy Center and Kamenare was rejected by a federal district court judge in D.C. in August.
- Total Revenue: $12,687,397
- Total Expenses and Disbursements: $10,353,347
- Total Assets: $16,996,391
- Total Revenue: $12,033,064
- Total Expenses and Disbursements: $11,011,798
- Total Assets: $14,662,341
- Total Revenue: $13,563,265
- Total Expenses and Disbursements: $10,355,821
- Total Assets: $13,676,244
- Richard Uihlein, Director/President
- Lucia Uihlein Higgins, Director/President
- Fredericka Anne Goldenberg, Director/President
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation
736 N Western Ave
Lake Forest, IL 60045
- Inside Philanthropy, "Levers of Influence: How These Top Donors Back Conservative Causes"
- Who, What, Why?, "From the Shadows, Top GOP Donor Benefits from His Investments"
- Think Progress, "Meet the Billionaires Who are Paying Trump's Legal Bills"
- Eric Garcia, Donor Testifies About Stockman Misspending His Contribution to Charity, Roll Call, March 22, 2018.
- Eric Garcia, Plea Deal Reveals Stockman Accused of Stealing $775,000, Roll Call, March 23, 2017.
- Matt Stevens, Steve Stockman, Ex-Congressman, Gets 10 Years in Prison for Stealing Charitable Donations, New York Times, November 7, 2018.
- Celine McNicholas & Zane Mokhiber, Who's Behind the Janus Lawsuit?, The American Prospect, February 26, 2018.
- Michelle Ye Hee Lee & Michael Scherer, Meet the little-known ‘big fish’ megadonor setting the tone for GOP primary races, Washington Post, April 30, 2018.
- Ali Dukakis, The conservative DC legal group behind a challenge to Mueller probe, ABC News, August 18, 2018.
- 2016 Ed Uihlein Family Foundation 990 Form, accessed November 20, 2018.
- 2015 Ed Uihlein Family Foundation 990 Form, accessed November 20, 2018.
- 2014 Ed Uihlein Family Foundation 990 Form, accessed November 20, 2018.