Corporate Colonization of Wisconsin, Part V – Brought to You by the Bradley Foundation

  • Colonization of Wisconsin

This is the fifth in a series of articles by Dr. Keith Roberts discussing the corporate colonization of the state of Wisconsin. In this segment Dr. Roberts exposes the role the Bradley Foundation has played in the corporate takeover of Wisconsin. Previous articles in this series can be found archived under the author’s name.

In order to understand the unique position that Wisconsin holds in the corporate takeover and control of previously democratic governments, it is necessary to understand the history and power of the Milwaukee based Bradley Foundation and the residual power of the John Birch Society . According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Dan Bice, less than a week after being elected governor, Scott Walker and his wife met privately with one of the most powerful philanthropic forces behind America’s conservative movement, the Bradley Foundation.

“On Nov. 8, 2010, the Walkers broke bread at the upscale Bacchus restaurant in the Cudahy Tower with the board and senior staff of the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation”.

The symbolism of this event summarizes the deceitful nature of Colonial Governor-General Walker, who touts his earnest thrifty son of a preacher image carrying brown bag lunches and driving a Saturn, while at the same time dining with the power brokers at upscale Bacchus (named after the Roman god of wine and intoxication) where a cup of tomato soup is $9.95 and a porterhouse for two is $93.50.

Colonial Governor-General Scott Kevin Walker could never have risen to his current position without the support of the Bradley Foundation. This includes a careful and deliberate anti-worker, anti-government propaganda effort that started with the John Birch Society and was accelerated in Wisconsin by the Bradley Foundation after 1985. Millionaire attorney and former chairman of the Bradley Foundation, Michael Grebe, was the chair of Walker’s campaign for Colonial Governor-General and assured that Walker would deliver for his corporate sponsors.

Ironically, the money supporting the anti-worker Bradley Foundation came from the profits of the labor intensive Allen-Bradley Corporation which in the 1950’s employed as many as 7,000 workers in its plant on Milwaukee’s south side.

The Bradley Foundation has been able to finance anti-worker, anti-government think tanks in order to distort facts to support the initiatives needed for the eventual takeover of government by corporations. The Bradley Foundation not only supplied the finances and strategies to insure that Scott Kevin Walker was elected the first Colonial Governor-General of Wisconsin, but it created the environment of fear and resentment in Wisconsin that allowed Walker to implement his anti-worker, anti-government agenda.

The Bradley foundation was established by Lynde and Harry Bradley, the company founders, as a moderate sized foundation that supported conservative pro-business initiatives. The younger brother, Harry, was especially political as the result, many say, of a strike at Allen-Bradley in 1939. At that time it was common for industrialists to brand unions as Communist and anti-American. Harry Bradley was certainly in that camp. In fact, he defined the labor organizers at Allen-Bradley as Communists in his memoirs.

Another irony for the anti-government Harry Bradly is that Allen Bradley profiteered from World War II because of the company’s many government contracts. Despite his company benefiting from government contracts, he became increasingly anti-government. In 1958 he, along with Fred Koch (the father of David and Charles) and others, became charter members of the John Birch Society (JBS). The JBS was an ultra-right wing group in the 1960’s that believed in Communist conspiracies and felt the Communists had infiltrated the government. It grew to over 100,000 members in the 1960’s and was seen as too out of touch by the political right and ridiculed by the political left. A sample of the lyrics of the Chad Mitchell Trio recording of “The John Birch Society” illustrates the view of the JBS by the left.

Oh, we’re the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Here to save our country from a communistic plot
Join the John Birch Society holding off the Reds
We’ll use our hand and hearts and if we must we’ll use our heads
Do you want Justice Warren for your Commissar?
Do you want Mrs. Krushchev in there with the DAR?
You cannot trust your neighbor or even next of kin
If mommie is a commie then you gotta turn her in
Oh, we’re the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Fighting for the right to fight the right fight for the Right
Join the John Birch Society as we’re marching on
And we’ll all be glad to see you when we’re meeting in the John
The John, the John Birch So- ci- i– tee

In addition, the JBS opposed civil rights legislation in the 1960s, saying the African-American freedom movement was being manipulated from Moscow with the goal of creating a “Soviet Negro Republic” in the Southern United States. The mindset of the JBS in the 1960’s was that workers, minorities and the government were all being manipulated by communists. This fear and resentment of unions, minorities and the government has influenced the political right in Wisconsin since that time and this fear has been, and continues to be, accelerated by the specific funding strategies of the Bradley Foundation. It is no accident that the current headquarters of the John Birch Society is in Appleton, Wisconsin, the home of Wisconsin’s other notorious self-serving politician, Senator Joseph McCarthy.

A turning point in Wisconsin politics occurred in 1985 when Allen-Bradley was purchased by Rockwell International. This provided an influx of nearly $300 million for the foundation. This money changed the Bradley Foundation from a moderately sized philanthropic foundation into a powerhouse. The foundation currently has $600 million and uses the money strategically to finance the ideas that Harry Bradley and the JBS held. Journalist Lee Fang observed , “ The money has gone on to  finance ideas  held strongly by Harry Bradley: anti-affirmative action scholars, anti-multiculturalism books (the Bradley Foundation  underwrote  the notoriously racist book The Bell Curve), anti-welfare campaigns, privatization efforts, neoconservative fronts, and tens of millions for groups  opposed  to public and private sector unions, particular in the field of education.” Lee Fang concluded, “Gov. Scott Walker’s current fight to crush labor rights in Wisconsin is the fulfillment of Harry Bradley’s John Birch Society dream.”

This could never have happened without the careful preparation of propaganda that vilified unions, public employees and minorities under the guise of free markets and individual freedom. The Bradley money carefully set the stage for the corporate colonization of the State. The Bradley Foundation funded the website ‘Teachers Union Exposed” in preparation for Colonial Governor-General Walker’s implementation of Act 10. That website is still active and current because the corporate takeover of education is still in the process of expanding in Wisconsin through the Choice program.

As early as 2005, the Bradley Foundation earmarked funds to help Koch Industries establish the Americans for Prosperity office in Wisconsin. From 2005-2009, the Bradley Foundation had  given about  $200,000 to Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin (also called Fight Back Wisconsin). This prepared the way for supporting the campaign of Walker.

The Bradley Foundation gave over $300,000 in grants to the MacIver Institute during the three years leading up to Walkers election. This gave them the ability to create studies claiming that Wisconsin teachers were paid too much and to publish reports asserting that collective bargaining rights hurt taxpayers. These and other MacIver reports were cited in the corporate news media to manipulate public opinion to endorse Walker and support his anti-worker initiatives.

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute has been supported by the Bradly Foundation with over $10 million in grants. It is a major conservative think tank and has produced attack ads against Walker’s opponents and strategically places opinion pieces in the media supporting Walker. The purpose of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, according to their website, is to provide “free market paths to better living.” These paths include the preparation of research reports that support initiatives of the Bradley Foundation along with the initiatives of the Koch brothers as interpreted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Milwaukee conservative talk show host, Charlie Sykes is a Senior Fellow at the Wisconsin Research Policy Institute. His radio talk show on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel owned WTMJ allows him to not only showcase and advocate for the corporate colonization of Wisconsin, but to also showcase and advocate for Scott Walker. In addition to the corporately owned WTMJ, the Journal also provides the website, Right Wisconsin , for Sykes to reinforce the Bradley initiatives and maintain the narrative that the corporate takeover of Wisconsin is “working.”

Aaron Dorfman, the executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy , said the Bradley Foundation supplies “the intellectual justification for conservative causes.”

“They have been particularly skillful at funding the think tanks and university programs that provide this intellectual foundation for their policy positions.”

These are just a few of the think tanks that the Bradley Foundation has funded that create the atmosphere that reinforces the narratives that Colonial Governor-General Scott Kevin Walker espouses on behalf of the Bradley Foundation and the Koch brothers:

  • Hudson Institute
  • Heritage Foundation
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
  • Federalist Society

These think tanks create the reports and faux research that supports the Bradley initiatives. A good example is the Wisconsin Retirement System. In 2011, taking a page out of the ALEC playbook, the Walker administration commissioned a study of the Wisconsin Employees’ Trust Fund and the public employee’s pensions. This was done in spite of expert knowledge that the Wisconsin retirement system was and has been the most sustainable pension system in the country. Try as they could, they could find no reason to transfer it to a defined benefit pension with opportunities for Wall Street profiteering. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank gave the Wisconsin pension fund the highest rating of any public pension fund in the country. The Wisconsin fund was 99.9% funded, which the Federal Reserve Bank considered outstanding. On May 31, 2012, a few weeks before the obviously positive report on the Wisconsin retirement fund was released, the Heritage Foundation published a report, “Understanding Public Pension Costs: The Example of Wisconsin.” This report criticized the long established methods of analyzing public employee pension funds and criticized the methodology of the Federal Reserve Bank. The results of the Heritage Foundation faux research was reported on various talk shows on WTMJ and reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This preemptive reporting is classic corporate truth manipulation. With the aid of lazy or dishonest media, the think tanks can place faux research at critical times in order to discredit the real scientific research produced, whether it is on pensions or economics or climate change.

Using the Federalist Society as another example of the depth of the Bradley Foundation influence and corruption, we can look at Judge Rudolph Randa. Judge Randa was the judge who halted the second John Doe investigation involving Colonial Governor-General Walker. Judge Randa is on the Board of Advisors of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Federalist Society. An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013 according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms. The seminars amount to a privately-funded all-expenses paid trip for judges, with conference sponsors picking up the costs of a judge’s flights, hotel rooms, and meals. These are junkets for judges similar to the junkets that the ALEC provides for legislators.

The Bradley Foundation has also given millions to conservative publications such as:

  • Reason
  • Crisis
  • First Things
  • National Affairs
  • Front Page
  • Inside the Vatican

The Bradley Foundation helped found and continues to fund the conservative publishing empire Encounter Books . In order to understand the impact of Encounter books on the corporate takeover and colonization of a democracy, I have listed a few of Encounter Books’ most recent titles:

  • The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism has Undermined the Middle Class
  • Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism
  • How Medicaid Fails the Poor
  • The Truth About Gun Control
  • The K-12 Implosion
  • People vs The Democratic Party
  • Why Progressive Institutions are Unsustainable

The messaging of these books is clear and reinforces the position of the Bradley Foundation, Koch brothers, ALEC and their Colonial Governor-General.

To assure that Wisconsin stays colonized by the corporations, the Bradley Foundation invested heavily in the media. In January of 2011, coinciding with the protests in Madison, the Bradley Foundation, through a conservative non-profit called American Majority , started Media Trackers. Media Trackers is a website which does negative stories “exposing” Democrats and Progressives. It keeps the narrative away from the damage being done to the State by the Corporate Colonialists by creating diversionary scandals and alternative narratives.

The Wisconsin Reporter was also started in January of 2011 and funded by the Bradley Foundation The purpose of the Wisconsin Reporter is to cover the statehouse from a pro corporate colonization perspective. This comes at a time when traditional print media has reduced the quality and depth of political reporting.

Walker’s assent to power was carefully orchestrated by the Bradley Foundation. Their think tanks and media contacts created a narrative that distorted reality and caused fear and resentment in order to divide the state. After Walker was appropriately installed as Wisconsin’s first Colonial Governor-General, the Bradley Foundation put media in place to assure that a successful narrative would be distributed to the press. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the voters of Wisconsin believe that this failing State is succeeding.

The goal of the Corporate Colonialists is to control the State and, as they repeat so often in their pro Walker ads; “It’s working!”

Keith J. Roberts, PhD lives in Greendale, Wisconsin and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for International Studies in Education, University of Pittsburgh, and a Senior Ambassador for the Globalization for the Common Good Initiative, Oxford, UK. In addition to his work in the USA, Dr. Roberts has been a planning and development consultant in diverse locations around the globe including China, Mongolia, Tibet, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, the Marshall Islands and elsewhere. Upon returning to Wisconsin from China in January of 2011 he was stunned by the actions of the Walker Administration and could see that while Third World countries were implementing policies that were moving their countries to First World Status, Walker was implementing policies that were moving Wisconsin to Third World Status. Since that time he has applied his research and analytical skills to document the “Cycles of Greed” in America with a special emphasis on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its role in undoing the Progressive Traditions of Wisconsin. Since February 2011 he has made numerous presentations to unions, educators, retirees, political organizations and grass-roots organizations.