Bradley Foundations Pour Millions into Network of Climate Denial and Anti-Labor Organizations, Tax Filings Show

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and its donor-advised fund called the Bradley Impact Fund, together poured millions of dollars into a vast network of right-wing think tanks across the country, according to 2018 tax filings obtained and reviewed by Documented. 

The Milwaukee-based conservative foundation has long been a major funder on the right and a major force in U.S. politics, doling out hundreds of millions of dollars every year to conservative think tanks, foundations and advocacy groups across the country. The foundation rivals the spending of the Koch family foundations, whose grants to conservative groups receives far more scrutiny and press attention than the Bradley foundation. 

In 2018, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) received $780,000 from Bradley, compared to $300,000 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation in 2018. Affiliates in the State Policy Network (SPN), which is comprised of dozens of right-wing think tanks, received $3.2m from the Koch foundation in 2018, according to a report by the Center for Media and Democracy. Note that SPN itself did not receive any money from the Koch foundation in 2018, only its affiliates. By comparison, the State Policy Network (SPN) and its affiliates received more than $3.8m in grants from Bradley. 

The foundation’s 2018 tax filing reported $48.9m in total revenue compared to $56.1m in revenue from 2017. The Bradley Impact Fund 2018 tax filing reported $10.9m in total revenue compared to $7m in 2017 revenue. 

Some highlights from the 2018 filings include:

Financial Support to Climate Denial Groups. The foundations gave $8m in grants to organizations that promote climate denial and obstruct efforts to tackle climate change. This amount includes $25,000 to the CO2 coalition, which falsely promotes the benefits of coal and carbon dioxide emissions. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, an organization well known for promoting climate denial, received $200,000. Both organizations have close ties to the Trump Administration. Infamous climate denier William Happer, director of the CO2 Coalition, joined the Trump administration’s National Security Council (NSC). In 2019, Happer left the administration after his failed efforts to weaken the science backing the National Climate Assessment. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is home to the Center for Energy and Environment, led by climate denier Myron Ebell who led the Trump Presidential Transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Financial Support to SPN and its State-Based Think Tanks. SPN and its affiliates received more than than $3.8m in grants from the Bradley foundations. SPN, the umbrella organization of the network, received $725,000 in grants from the foundations–a $625,000 increase from 2017. The grants spanned across 21 different organizations and included large sums to the Milwaukee-based think tank Badger Institute ($555,000) and the Florida-based think tank Foundation for Government Accountability ($500,000). 

$1 Million for “Workplace Freedom” Efforts. The foundation spent $1m for purposes of so-called “workplace freedom” efforts to 14 different entities. Most of this funding went to several SPN state-based think tanks which have helped push a multi-year long effort to weaken unions. 

Other notable Bradley Foundation grant recipients include:

  • David Horowtiz Freedom Center – The Southern Poverty Law Center-labled anti-Muslim hate group received $185,000 for general operations and to support program activities. The Center is led by the anti-immigrant, anti-muslim extremist David Horowitz. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization houses various projects and publications designed to fight Horowitz’s self-described ideological war with Islam and the political left.
  • American Legislative Exchange Council – Funding to ALEC increased from $552,000 in 2017 to $780,000 in 2018–a $228,000 increase from 2017. Bradley earmarked $300,000 of the total amount to ALEC’s constituent management service for its legislative members, also known as “ALEC CARE.”
  • Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy – The Virginia-based group received $50,000 in support of “State Energy Policy Summits,” which take place annually prior to the State Policy Network’s annual meeting. The 2018 invitation outlined discussion topics included “electricity, pipelines, fracking, nuclear power, and off-shore gas and oil exploration and development.”
  • Americans for Prosperity – AFP, the political advocacy arm funded by the Koch brothers, received $290,000 for “outreach efforts” and general operations.
  • Daily Caller News Foundation – The right-wing conservative news site founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson received $100,000.

A copy of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation 2018 tax filing can be viewed here on documentcloud, a copy of the Bradley Impact Fund 2018 tax filing can be viewed here on documentcloud, and below is the full, text-searchable list of grant recipients from both 990’s:

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

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