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Billionaire-funded group pushes efforts to erode democracy in key US states | US News

A Florida group funded primarily by Illinois billionaires is pushing recent attacks against direct democracy in states such as Ohio and Missouri. south dakota and Arkansas.

of Government Accountability FoundationA Florida-based group that belongs to a coalition of conservative think tanks called national policy networkhas played a key role in recent efforts to raise the bar for passing a referendum initiative from a simple majority to a majority, making it harder to put policies on the ballot in the first place.

These efforts are aimed at protecting abortion rights, raising the minimum wage, and sabotaging citizen-led voting efforts to expand Medicaid. In effect, the FGA and its allies seek to give 41% of voters an effective veto power to override the wishes of the remaining 59%.

In at least four states, the FGA and its lobbying arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, have lobbied and testified in favor of changes to vote-driven rules that enact minority rules, and in some cases, those Funding voting committees advocating change. The FGA also publishes reports, legal memos, editorials and polls that advocate the emasculation of direct democracy.

The latest match is in Ohio. Republican Senator of the Month It passed a bill that would require future constitutional amendments to have at least 60% of voter support, rather than a simple majority, which would make it harder for the amendments to get on the ballot. Ohioans will now vote in August on whether to approve the higher threshold.

The controversial plan is meant to derail abortion rights efforts due to be voted on in November.

When Ohio Republicans first proposed a super-majority requirement last year, representatives of the FGA’s lobbying division said: the only person to testify in favor of. The FGA’s lobbying department testified at a public hearing earlier this year that it again supported the proposal. House and Senate. The FGA argued that the proposal was necessary to “make it more difficult for out-of-state billionaires and black-market groups to change Ohio law.”

Once the bill passed the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature, Illinois billionaire Dick Uiline donated $1.1 million The newly formed Defend Our Constitution PAC posted an ad urging state legislatures to support the bill.Willin is Be expected We will try to contribute more as the August vote gets closer.

The Uihlein-controlled foundation is also the FGA’s largest known source of funding, $17.6 million Since 2014, Uihlein is one of them. Primary Funder of denial of elections.Among other things, Uihlein poured tens of millions Join his “Restoration of America” ​​network, Facilitate foolish selection conspiracy theory and it created controversial A database that published personal information of voters online under the guise of exposing election fraud. For the 2022 cycle, Dick Uillain and his wife Liz was also a top contributor Even election-denying candidates like Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and Nevada secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant.

FGA itself 2021 to start focusing on ‘election integrity’and boasted Last year, he said, “we won more than 70 electoral integrity policies in 19 states.”

The FGA also promotes super-majority requirements. Ohio Other states will do the same after at least 2021.

That year, the FGA legal memo Arguing for the constitutionality of the 60% requirement for enacting a ballot initiative, report He denounced how voters in red states like Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska approved the expansion of Medicaid through the ballot initiative process. The FGA and its lobbying arm also began testifying in support of the state’s efforts to make it harder to enact voting measures, and its in-house polling firm announced Ohio. vote He indicated a threshold of 60% voter support and put other limits on the initiative’s process.

The FGA’s tactics in Ohio reflect tactics that have been used before and failed. Arkansas and South Dakota.

In Arkansas, the FGA Lobbying Division produced a document last year that read: fact sheet, editorial and Social media post Upvoting question 2 raises the voting initiative threshold to 60%.As an underground financial group supporting billionaires warned Regarding the “shady group funded by billionaires you’ve never heard of” pushing voting measures in Arkansas, donated $65,000 To the voting committees that support the supermajority requirement. Arkansas voters beat the bill by 19 percentage points.

Representative of the Lobbying Division of the FGA, South Dakota testified in February 2021 HJR5003A constitutional amendment requires 60% approval. The bill was passed and put to a vote in June 2022 with the aim of blocking the Medicaid expansion initiative, which is scheduled for a November 2022 vote.FGA Lobbying Division at the time donated $50,000 Despite upholding the majority requirement to the balloting committee, voters rejected the bill by 35 points.Later that year, South Dakota voters Approved expansion of Medicaid.

The FGA also put pressure on the Missouri legislature to set new hurdles in the initiative’s process. In 2021, FGA’s lobbying arm will be released vote Claiming to show public support for “the integrity of the initiative,” letter To the Missouri legislative leadership advocating super-majority requirements and other changes to the initiative process. “Without reform,” warns the letter.[o]Out-of-state billionaires will continue to pour in millions [promote] Disruptive, left-wing policies like the expansion of Medicaid. ” group testified with the support of Missouri HJR 22 That year would have created new requirements for the bill to be put on the ballot.

The FGA’s lobbying department will continue to testify in support. four different Missouri suggestion Put barriers in the voting initiative process in 2022. four more resemble suggestion this year.Missouri home passed the bill In order to raise the threshold of initiative, failed unexpectedly in the State Senate.

  • This article was produced with the help of documented, investigative surveillance and journalism projects. Brendan Fisher is the Deputy Executive Director of Documented.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/23/foundation-government-accountability-democracy Billionaire-funded group pushes efforts to erode democracy in key US states | US News

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