Memo: Follow the Money

It has been reported that Gov. Scott Walker has spent much of the last year on a cross- country cash grab – filling his campaign coffers with millions from right-wing ideologues like “Swift Boat” Bob Perry, Newt Gingrich “Sugar Daddy” Sheldon Adelson, Women’s health “expert” Foster Friess, and, of course, Wisconsin’s own “Divide and Conquer” billionaire, Diane Hendricks.

If you watch television, you’ve also probably seen the advertisements paid for by the special interests benefitting from the tax giveaways, consumer protection rollbacks and lax enforcement of public safety regulations by the Walker administration.

But dramatically overlooked in recent months, and worth revisiting, is the unique position and impact of the Governor’s campaign chairman, Michael Grebe.

Grebe, as head of the Bradley Foundation, has doled out $231 million since 2001 to support right-wing noise machine outfits like those currently promoting and protecting Gov. Walker.

Today, these organizations are engaged in a multi-front offensive to influence public opinion about the policies of Governor Walker and undermine the credibility of investigators who have already obtained convictions for the illegal laundering of campaign contributions and charged top aides with illegal campaigning less than 25 feet away from Governor Walker’s desk when he was Milwaukee County Executive.

Media Trackers

Bradley Foundation Funding: $328,720 (2010)

In perhaps the most egregious example of the right-wing noise machine in action, the purveyors of Wisconsin’s “New McCarthyism” are questioning the ongoing criminal investigation of aides and associates of Gov. Walker and possibly the Governor himself.

Their reckless speculation and innuendo-laden “investigations” have, in the past, oftentimes proven to be either outright false or dangerously misleading – but only after being run by one or more mainstream media outlet.

While some media reports do refer to the organization as conservative, that moniker wildly understates the full extent of Media Trackers bias. In fact, it is possible that the Walker campaign co-chair controlled Bradley Foundation has provided 100% of Media Trackers operating budget. This seems especially relevant in light of the Media Trackers modus operandi of guilt by association.

American Majority, under whose banner Media Trackers operates, received over $328,000 from the Bradley Foundation in 2010, the last year for which data was available. Based on media reports of the American Majority budget, it appears over 33% of their total operating budget comes from the Walker campaign chair run Bradley Foundation.

MacIver Institute

Bradley Foundation Funding: $310,000 (2009-10)

The MacIver foundation helped kick off Gov. Walker’s “divide and conquer” attack on Wisconsin workers with editorials calling for the elimination of collective bargaining for public workers.

And they’ve been with Gov. Walker every step of the way, most recently partnering with another Bradley funded entity, Americans for Prosperity, to engage in a multi-million dollar, paid media campaign touting Gov. Walker’s budget policies and organizing local town hall style meetings.

Wisconsin Policy Research Institute

Bradley Foundation Funding: $400,000 (2010)

The Granddaddy of them all, WPRI provides salaries and support to in-house and other commentators and right-wing Milwaukee talk radio squawker Charlie Sykes. Over the last decade, WPRI has received over $3.6 million from the Bradley Foundation and, reportedly, relies on the Bradley Foundation for roughly 50% of its operating budget in any given year.

In addition to Sykes’ relentless boosterism of Gov. Walker on Milwaukee radio, WPRI associates Rick Esenberg and Christian Schneider are currently on the editorial pages of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel parroting Walker talking points on the John Doe criminal investigation and downplaying the magnitude of the Governor’s historic cross country cash grab.

Meanwhile, WPRI commentator Sunny Shubert regales us with heartwarming tales of her friends and neighbors in an attempt to put a happy face on the greed of Wall Street financial firms that has cost taxpayers billions in bailouts.

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.