Journal Sentinel Series Reveals Bradley Foundation's Political Ties

May 12, 2017

The Bradley Foundation is well-known in Wisconsin as both a supporter of conservative and conservative-leaning groups - and also Milwaukee arts organizations. But what’s less-known is the foundation’s long-term, national aspirations.

Some of those goals have been coming to light through a series in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, called The Bradley Blueprint. Reporter Dan Bice shaped and produced much of that series, including the first piece titled Hacked records show Bradley Foundation taking its conservative Wisconsin model national. He explains what makes the foundation a compelling topic to explore. 

"The Bradley Foundation had been well-known over the years for its work nationally. It's a key contributor to The Heritage Foundation, to The Federalist Society, to the American Enterprise Institute, the CATO Institute, all of these things," says Bice. "But around the year 2010 Mike Grebe, who was then in charge of the Bradley Foundation, started thinking about shifting some of their resources to the states and spending more money trying to build up what he calls a 'conservative infrastructure' in the states."

Since the foundation is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin became the testing ground for the organization. 

Bice says he started covering the group more intensely in 2011 at a time when they had around $600 million. Now, the foundation has $900 million.

"A private charity has to give away 5% of their assets each year," he explains. "Right now they're giving away 40 to 45 million dollars a year... Some of it's given to the arts community, but the bulk of their money goes to spending on conservative groups, conservative non-profits, that sort of thing."