MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker announced longtime ally and right-wing Bradley Foundation CEO Michael Grebe will chair his presidential campaign. The Bradley Foundation, with over $830 million in assets, doles out $30 to $40 million annually to right-wing think tanks, propaganda outlets and voter suppression organizations that shape Walker’s policy agenda. Bradley’s largesse also insulates him from criticism by the vast network of leading right-wing influence peddlers that Bradley finances.
“Scott Walker knows where his bread is buttered and the nationwide right-wing machine Michael Grebe funds is Walker’s key to credibility,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “We saw Grebe’s power this week, when Heritage’s Stephen Moore sheepishly backtracked from comments he made about Walker. It’s no coincidence, as Grebe’s Bradley has given Heritage $3.7 million since 2001.”
One Wisconsin Now has long researched and reported about Grebe, documented at the Bradley Watch website. Grebe previously served as not only Walker’s gubernatorial campaign co-chair, but also as Paul Ryan’s self-described “political godfather” and the central figure on installing Wisconsin’s Reince Priebus as Republican National Committee chair.
The organizations Grebe’s foundation finances were instrumental in attacking Walker’s previous gubernatorial opponents, including orchestrating a nasty late-in-the-campaign smear against his 2014 opponent. A long running “John Doe” probe has identified numerous right-wing groups in Wisconsin as having engaged in alleged illegal coordination with Gov. Walker’s campaign.
Bradley has financed top Wisconsin and national Republican causes, which have been echoed in Walker’s policy actions, including:
Public School Privatization
Walker has not only made the largest cuts to public education in Wisconsin history, but also has enacted a radical statewide privatization of public schools. Public school privatization has been the chief Bradley Foundation cause. Previous research by One Wisconsin Now revealed a web of right-wing groups were part of a $31 million plus propaganda campaign pushing this massive privatization of public education in Wisconsin underwritten by Grebe and Bradley. Since 2009, Walker has raked in over $2 million in individual contributions to his campaign account from privatization backers, based on a review of state campaign finance records.
Walker championed and signed the nation’s most restrictive Voter ID bill in the country, as well as numerous assaults on early voting, including ending weekend “Souls to the Polls” voting conducted largely in African American communities. Walker’s actions are currently the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by One Wisconsin Institute and other leading voter rights advocates and community members. Grebe’s Bradley Foundation finances a network of organizations attacking the right to vote, and in 2012 a joint investigation by One Wisconsin Now and theGrio.com and MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid showed Grebe financed the 2010 voter suppression billboard campaign in which nearly 100 billboards depicting a minority behind bars with the words “Voter Fraud is a Felony. 3 ½ Years in Prison and $10,000 Fine” were placed all across Milwaukee, home to Wisconsin’s largest minority population. Records from the criminal investigations which have surrounded Walker showed the billboards’ architect contacted Walker personally about voting issues in advance of their placement.
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 that would cut the average Wisconsin family’s income by $5,000 per year.
In the lead up to his 2014 gubernatorial election, Walker told the state’s largest newspaper when asked about a right-to-work law in Wisconsin, “…that’s not something that’s part of my agenda. I’m not supporting it…” With cover from Bradley Foundation funded groups, Walker quickly changed his position after his election to appeal to national right-wing power brokers.
For more information about the relationship between Scott Walker’s political fortunes and the Bradley Foundation see One Wisconsin Now’s comprehensive Scott Walker Files at https://onewisconsinnow.org/scottwalker/.