Election Experts, Watchdogs Send Letter to Ohio Legislature Urging Ban of Foreign Influence in State Ballot Issues

Columbus, Ohio — Today, ethics watchdog Caitlin Sutherland, Executive Director of Americans for Public Trust (APT) and election law expert Jason Snead, Executive Director of Honest Elections Project Action (HEP Action) spearheaded a coalition letter sent to Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens and Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman urging them to pass legislation banning foreign interference in Ohio’s elections.

The letter highlights the foreign backed financing of the left-wing Sixteen Thirty Fund by foreign national Hansjorg Wyss and how much Sixteen Thirty Fund has spent on state ballot issues across the country. In Ohio alone, Sixteen Thirty Fund, flush with its foreign backed cash, spent over $14 million on liberal ballot issue campaigns in Ohio just last year.

Hansjorg Wyss has given a quarter-billion dollars to the Sixteen Thirty Fund and Ohio has remained ground zero for foreign backed cash influencing state ballot issues. The coalition letter sent to the Ohio legislature today calls for this glaring foreign influence loophole to be closed to put an end to foreign nationals directly influencing Ohio politics.

Signatories to the letter include:

  • Executive Director for Americans for Public Trust, Caitlin Sutherland
  • Executive Director Honest Elections Project Action, Jason Snead
  • Former Ohio Secretary of State, Chair at the Center for Election Integrity at America First Policy Institute, Kenneth Blackwell
  • Director of State Advocacy for Heritage Action for America, Catherine Gunsalus
  • Former Attorney General of Virginia, National Chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative, Ken Cuccinelli
  • President of Association of Mature American Citizens Action, Bob Carlstrom

To view the full coalition letter, click HERE.

Read excerpts from the coalition letter below:

“For decades, it has been illegal for foreign nationals to donate to political candidates. However, no federal or Ohio law applies the same ban to ballot issues. This loophole is being actively exploited in Ohio and throughout the country.


 The Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Washington D.C. nonprofit, has received at least $243 million from Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss. Sixteen Thirty Fund has then turned around and spent nearly $100 million on state ballot issues across 25 states. In Ohio alone, Sixteen Thirty Fund and their foreign-tied cash have spent nearly 15 million dollars on state ballot issues—influencing voters as they make historic decisions that rewrite this state’s constitution. 

To be effective, a final package must at minimum tackle three core issues: It must shut down direct and indirect contributions from foreign nationals, must ban the spending, including independent expenditures, of funds tied to foreign nationals, and must ensure independent investigatory and enforcement power by the Attorney General.”