The Bradley Foundation was founded by Harry and Lynde Bradley, with direct roots as charter members of the extremist John Birch Society. The Bradleys, like fellow right-wing billionaires Charles and David Koch, embraced the Manion Forum, which promote the notion that social spending in America was part of a clandestine Communist plot to bankrupt the United States. They have an Enemy’s List. Some of their efforts include funding millions of dark money for:
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- School Choice expansion
- Charter Schools
- Attack on unions
- Voter suppression efforts
- Islamophobia in the United States
- Climate Change denial front groups
- Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and the MacIver Institute
Governor Scott Walker signed a right-to-work bill into law on March 9, 2015 with some help from the Bradley Foundation. The foundation “doled out over $8 million in 2012 and 2013, the latest years for which information available, to support the operations of a web of nearly three dozen groups promoting right to work laws and radical privatization policies that empower the wealthy and corporate CEOs at the expense of the middle class,” according to a report by One Wisconsin Now published on February 25, 2015. “The Bradley Foundation, having nearly half a billion dollars in assets, regularly hands out $30-40 million a year, making it perhaps the largest right wing funding foundation in America. Groups operating in Wisconsin, including the MacIver Institute, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, Media Trackers and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Foundation, took in excess of $2.9 million.
Walker proposed his 2013-2015 budget, which contained plans to massively expand Wisconsin’s school voucher program, in February 2013. Congruent with the efforts of the Bradley Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), this would provide state subsidies for students to leave public schools in exchange for private schools, effectively transfering substantial government public education funding to the private sector.
The Center for Union Facts, an anti-union organization that is part of lobbyist Rick Berman‘s family of front groups, received $1.55 million between 2007 and 2010 from the Bradley Foundation and spent heavily to support Walker and smear teachers unions with an anti-union website during the 2011 fight over public sector collective bargaining rights.
The MacIver Institute (a member of the ALEC-tied State Policy Network) and the Koch-founded and -funded Americans for Prosperity spent millions defending Walker in his 2011 recall election. Americans for Prosperity received $600,000 from the Bradley Foundation from 2004 to 2010.
Thanks to Daniel Bice with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, an incredible article of journalism exposes Governor Scott Walker’s funding from the Bradley Foundation. Some of the highlights include:
As the deep-pocketed Bradley Foundation takes its Wisconsin template for conservative control of government across the nation, an examination of the effort in Wisconsin provides an unprecedented look at how expansive, coordinated and influential its approach has become.
The foundation actively grades its grant recipients, looks for ways in which they can work together and evaluates progress, focusing often on how they took actions helpful to Walker and other Republicans or harmful to their opponents.
The result: The work of these Bradley Foundation-funded conservative groups often becomes deeply intertwined with that of the Republican governor, even as the foundation tries to avoid crossing the line into partisan politics.
As a tax-exempt charity, Bradley cannot engage directly in political activity. Federal law requires that charitable donations be made to benefit the public good, not a private interest.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As Walker tries to run for re-election in 2018, look for plenty of Bradley Foundation money to try to fool the people of Wisconsin again.