Billionaire megadoners who fought Wisconsin’s plans to contain pandemic get infected at White House
Trump megadonors Liz and Dick Uihlein, owners of Uline shipping and outspoken opponents of COVID-19 prevention measures, have tested positive for the virus after attending an election night party at the White House.
Earlier this year, Liz Uihlein called the pandemic “overhyped,” lobbied legislators to overturn the public health restrictions by Governor Tony Evers, and backed a petition to have the Governor removed from office. A rare and brief interview with The Guardian on April 23 introduced Uihlein by stating:
“One of Donald Trump’s most fervent billionaire donors is lobbying against strict stay-at-home rules in the election battleground state of Wisconsin, raising troubling new questions about how the president’s rightwing financial supporters may influence the US response to the pandemic.”
A family friend accidentally linked the Uihleins to Wisconsin’s reopen protests in a separate Guardian interview.
The couple were tested for the coronavirus after saying they were around others who contracted the virus, according to an email sent to employees of Uline. The New York Times tweeted on November 12 that Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski, who was also at that party, tested positive and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, political director Brian Jack and others in the administration also tested positive after attending the party.
Employees received an email on November from the Uihlein Family, owners of the $5.8 billion company and big donors to Republican causes, thanking them for their efforts and saying that the “White House called upon us twice with huge orders” this week. The same day, a manager at one Uline call center sent a note to employees.
“If you, or family members, are under the weather with cold/allergies — or anything aside from COVID-19,” it read, “please do NOT tell your peers about the symptoms & your assumptions. By doing so, you are causing unnecessary panic in the office,” the New York Times reported.
“After these long months, I thought we’d never get it. Well, Trump got it,” Uline president and CEO Liz Uihlein, 75, said in the email to employees. “If we had not been around people with COVID, we would not have been tested. We would have been back at Uline.”
There was no word on how employees reacted to the statement. The Uihleins reside in Lake Forest, Illinois, but their company has a 200-acre headquarters across the border in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. According to the Patch article, “Some of Uline’s roughly 7,000 employees have expressed concerns that too few office and call center employees have been permitted to work from home without a strong case for a medical condition.”
The email also laid out the company’s pandemic absentee policy. “Employees who test positive will be allowed to return to work 10 days from the date their test was collected, if you don’t have any symptoms. If you don’t have any symptoms, you are expected to continue working.”
The Uihlein email said the couple would return to the office on November 19.
The Center for Responsive Politics lists the Uihleins as the second largest donors to federal Republican candidates in this election cycle, following Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. The couple contributed nearly $66 million exclusively to Republicans.
Dubbed the “most powerful conservative couple you’ve never heard of” by the New York Times in 2018, they are further described in the same article:
“The Midwestern couple has joined the upper pantheon of Republican donors alongside names like Koch, Mercer and Adelson. They have spent roughly $26 million on the current election cycle, supporting more than 60 congressional candidates, working outside the party establishment to advance a combative, hard-right conservatism, from Washington to the smallest town.”
In 2018, the couple bankrolled first Kevin Nicholson in the primary, and then Leah Vukmir – after criticizing her, once she became the Republican nominee running against Senator Tammy Baldwin. They were also among the biggest supporters of former Governor Scott Walker and former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.
Dick Uihlein has supported candidates who fight to preserve access to assault weapons and is a critic of LGBTQ and transgender rights, notably supporting the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who said homosexuality should be illegal and was accused of sexual assault of multiple underage girls and lost his 2017 race for U.S. Senate.
In October 2019, the Uihleins held a rally featuring Vice President Mike Pence promoting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in one of Uline’s large company warehouses in Kenosha. Pence called the Uihleins “two incredible Americans,” at that event, praising “your leadership, your vision, your character” before stating that their company’s sales during the Trump administration “are up by 44%, profits are up 58%.”
Originally published on the Wisconsin Examiner as Billionaire GOP donors who fought Evers’ public health measures contract COVID-19
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