Watch a previous report on Issue 1 in the video player above.
Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights raised more than $39.2 million this year through mid-October and spent $26.2 million, according to the campaign’s finance reports. More than $28.7 million came from cash donations since August.
The campaign against Issue 1, Protect Women Ohio, has raised nearly $27 million through mid-October and spent just under $24.3 million. More than $16.8 million has been donated to the campaign since the summer.
Issue 1, which would ensure the right to abortion until fetal viability and protect other reproductive health decisions, has shone a national spotlight on Ohio as the Nov. 7 election approaches. Both campaigns received hefty contributions from out-of-state benefactors, including dark money groups, national organizations, billionaires and politicians. They also received significant contributions from churches, in-state organizations and individual Ohioans.
Where did the money come from?
Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights top donors:
- $5.3 million from the Sixteen Thirty Fund
- $3.5 million from the Open Society Policy Center, a progressive lobbying group connected to billionaire philanthropist George Soros
- $2.2 million from The Fairness Project
- $2.2 million from the ACLU
- $1.5 million from Lynn Schusterman, an Oklahoma billionaire who leads the prominent Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
- $1.5 million from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund
The campaign for the abortion rights amendment received most of its money from out-of-state, progressive 501(c)(4) organizations, including the DC-based Sixteen Thirty Fund and the New York-based Open Society Policy Center. But it received sizable donations from individuals as well.
New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg donated $1 million to Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights in September, as did Oklahoma billionaire Gwendolyn Sontheim. In early October, Abigail Wexner, the wife of New Albany billionaire Les Wexner, also donated $1 million, campaign finance filings show.
Other notable donations include $500,000 from Jay Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, and $300,000 from Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio. The campaign received smaller donations from various regional Planned Parenthoods and other reproductive rights organizations.
More than $10 million of the Issue 1 campaign’s donations were in-kind, nonmonetary contributions, the majority of which were from Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU of Ohio and other Ohio organizations that helped campaign for the amendment.
Protect Women Ohio top donors:
- $12.5 million from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a national anti-abortion organization
- $9.7 million from Protect Women Ohio Action
- $1 million from the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization of Catholic men based in Connecticut
- $1 million from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
The campaign’s Protect Women Ohio Action is mostly funded by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and The Concord Fund, a conservative advocacy group formerly known as the Judicial Crisis Network. The Concord Fund has donated $25 million to Protect Women Ohio Action since May, according to campaign finance reports.
The Catholic dioceses of Ohio donated $2.2 million combined, including $500,000 from the Columbus diocese and $200,000 from the Cleveland diocese.
The campaign against the abortion amendment received fewer six-figure donations from individuals than the campaign for the amendment. Like Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, Protect Women Ohio received a slew of donations from Ohio groups, including local and regional Right to Life organizations and churches.
Where did the money go?
Both campaigns spent the bulk of their money on digital and broadcast advertisements.
Protect Women Ohio has spent $20.6 million on advertisements since March, although many of those advertisements were geared toward encouraging Ohioans to vote for a ballot initiative in August, which would have required the abortion amendment to earn 60% of the vote to pass. The campaign has spent more than $6.7 million since August, according to campaign finance filings, and has spent more than $4.5 million on broadcast advertisements against Issue 1 alone.
Aside from advertisements, the campaign against Issue 1 geared significant amounts toward mailers – about $2 million since September. It also spent nearly $280,000 on yard signs and $372,000 on research and polling.
Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights has spent nearly $21 million on advertisements, including more than $7.8 million in mid-October. Large swaths of expenses were the disbursal of grant funds to various state progressive organizations that campaigned for the amendment, including the Ohio Women’s Alliance, Black Ohio Leaders for Democracy, Pro-Choice Ohio and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights. More than half a million went to the Ohio Organization Campaign.
Other major expenses for the Issue 1 campaign include $307,000 in research and polling and $81,500 on yard signs.