COLUMBUS, Ohio — After months of denial, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose admitted that the proposal to make the constitution harder to amend is "100%" due to efforts to legalize abortion.
But on Nov. 17, 2022, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said otherwise.
"That's not what this kind of a change should ever be about," the secretary said.
Ohioans will likely get the choice this November of enshrining reproductive rights in law.
"'Why are you doing it now?' Because it's ready now," he added.
Every single time LaRose has been asked if Issue 1 was related to an abortion vote, he has denied it.
"If this is about one specific issue, then somebody's not really focused on what we're trying to accomplish here," the secretary said.
But the words he said to reporters appear different than when he spoke to his supporters.
"It’s 100% about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution," LaRose said.
Raw video obtained by News 5 from Scanner Media shows the secretary at Lincoln Day on May 22, 2023 in Seneca County, with what advocates call "saying the quiet part out loud."
"It is utterly shameful that Secretary LaRose or anyone would work to take this freedom away from us for just one issue," Jen Miller with the League of Women Voters of Ohio said.
Miller explained that LaRose was the one who first put forward the idea of raising the threshold for a constitutional amendment to pass from a simple majority to 60%. This would change the way the Constitution has worked for more than 110 years.
To read more about the battle of Issue 1, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to find relevant articles.
"This is about corrupt politicians and special interest groups trying to trick everyday Ohio people into taking our own rights away," Miller added.
LaRose has continuously denied that his idea is related to any specific policies.
In the secretary's testimony in support of the legislation, he said, “Campaigns will make this a fight over the provocative political issues of the moment… We all need to take a deep breath, put aside current political disputes, and ask whether this is the best way to govern our state over the long run.”
In the video, he adds that although it is about abortion now, it would be useful down the road to combat what he calls “dangerous plans” from the "Left."
"The next thing they want to do is put a $15 an hour minimum wage in our state constitution," he said. "And who knows what's next? Marijuana?"
News 5 tried reaching out for days to talk to LaRose, but his team refused to answer questions.
Spokesperson Rob Nichols did give a statement.
“Secretary LaRose has consistently said we need to elevate the standard for amending our state constitution, whether its health care, minimum wage, casinos or any other special interest agenda.... Issue 1 applies to an unlimited number of political issues. That’s the point,” the statement said, ignoring News 5's questions about abortion.
But at the Lincoln Day event — this was the message:
"Some people say this is all about abortion. Well, you know what?" LaRose said. "It's 100% about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution the left wants to jam it in there this coming November."
Issue 1 is "one of the ways we can make sure they aren't successful," LaRose continued.
"The Secretary of State's office should be a nonpartisan position," Miller said. "This just shows that politics are creeping into how Secretary LaRose runs his office — and that's disappointing."
Additionally, in the Seneca County video, the secretary says he hopes to have an announcement this summer to make about running for US Senate.