With a new online, searchable database One Wisconsin Now is shining a light on one of the biggest funders of the right-wing propaganda machine, the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation. With nearly $900 million in assets, Bradley annually doles out roughly $40 million, overwhelmingly to right wing groups aligned with the foundation’s mission to impose their vision on politics and society.
“The Bradley Foundation is both generous and ruthless in pursuit of its goals,” said One Wisconsin Now executive director Scot Ross. “They spare no expense chasing their agenda of radical privatization, trickle-down economics and voter suppression.”
Based on records on file with the Internal Revenue Service, One Wisconsin Now has compiled the Bradley Foundation grants to other organizations from 2005 through 2016 and is making the data available to the general public in a searchable, online database.
Ross noted that the Bradley Foundation has been particularly invested in the political success of Gov. Scott Walker. The previous Bradley head, Michael Grebe, stepped down in 2016, but has served as a chair of every Walker gubernatorial run and his ill-fated, 71-day presidential campaign.
The Bradley Foundation has been instrumental in efforts to drain resources from public schools to expand the less accountable private school voucher program and to undermine the ability of workers to join together to form a union to bargain for better wages and working conditions. In foreign affairs they have promoted virulent Islamophobia and domestically they have funded voter suppression efforts targeting communities of color, including a voter suppression billboard campaign in advance of Scott Walker’s 2010 election.
More recently, Bradley has aggressively funded higher education projects to advance its right-wing agenda and supported efforts to threaten students with sanctions, including expulsion, for protesting hate speech on college campuses. Bradley has also written substantial checks to support think tanks, like those at the UW-Madison overseen professors Noah Williams and Ryan Owens, who regularly use their positions to promote the agenda of Gov. Walker, praise Republicans and criticize Democrats.
Bradley also make annual prize awards of $250,000 to select individuals. Past award winners include Roger Ailes, who ran Fox News until he resigned amid revelations of his serial sexual harassment and Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve in which he argues for policies based on the idea people of color have lower intelligence.
Ross concluded, “The Bradley Foundation has a radical agenda and a huge checkbook they use to fund a right-wing propaganda machine. It’s important people know where they’re spending their millions to try to get their way.
One Wisconsin Now was among a handful of organizations identified on a Bradley Foundation maintained “enemy list” in part for their work tracking the foundation that can be found at onewisconsinnow.org/bradley-foundation/.