MADISON, Wis. — Late last week, while traveling out of state, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dropped his pre-November 2014 election charade of opposition to a right to work law that could cut the average Wisconsin family’s wages by over $5,000 per year. One Wisconsin Now’s research of the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, headed by Gov. Walker’s campaign co-chair, reveals the stage has been set for Walker’s latest assault on Wisconsin’s middle class for his personal political benefit with a well-financed propaganda campaign utilizing a nationwide web of front groups.
“Once again we see the ‘Wisconsin Money Badger’ Michael Grebe and his Bradley Foundation paving the way for Gov. Walker’s right-wing, Tea Party agenda with a massive propaganda campaign,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “This time it’s the wrong for Wisconsin right to work law that cuts wages and benefits not just for union members but all Wisconsin workers.”
According to One Wisconsin Now’s review of federal tax records, the Bradley 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. 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.
Groups operating in other Midwestern states and nationally benefitted from Grebe and the Bradley Foundation’s largesse. Right-wing policy shops, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the State Policy Network, took in over $200,000 in 2011 and 2012. Nearly $500,000 went to the virulently anti-organized labor Center for Union Facts and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund.
Bradley also sent $140,000 to the notorious Koch brothers aligned Americans for Prosperity Foundation that partnered with the Wisconsin MacIver Institute to run a multi-million dollar ad campaign that declared “it’s working” in relation to the polices enacted by Gov. Walker resulting in Wisconsin having among the worst records in job creation and wage growth in the nation.
In the Michigan effort to enact right to work legislation the Education Action Group and the Mackinac Foundation were extremely active. These groups took in $230,000 over two years from the Bradley Foundation. Michigan’s passage of the regressive right to work law is being used justify the GOP led effort to reduce wages, health care and education funding in Wisconsin.
Ross noted that Grebe and his Bradley Foundation do not restrict their efforts and coordination with Gov. Walker to attacks on the economic interests of middle class families. Previous research by One Wisconsin Now exposed a Bradley funded propaganda campaign in support of the radical privatization of public education and even an effort at intimidating minority voters. With Gov. Walker now auditioning for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, expect his talking points to mirror the Bradley Foundation’s, including their funding of a network of Islamophobic foreign policy advocates.
He concluded, “This latest episode is another warning to the nation about what you get with Scott Walker, a person who is politics incarnate and willing to do or say anything to get elected with a campaign co-chair heading a right wing foundation spending hundreds of millions of dollars on propaganda to advance their agenda.