The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (commonly known as the Bradley Foundation) is a private charitable foundation based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that donates to a wide array of right-wing causes. The foundation was established in 1942 and focuses on four “impact” areas: constitutional order, free markets, civil society, and informed citizens. The New York Times called the Bradley Foundation “a leading source of ideas and financing for American conservatives.” In 2021, the foundation awarded $12 million in grants to organizations in Wisconsin alone.
One of the Bradley Foundation’s primary goals is to eliminate disclosure requirements for political donors (like itself). The foundation contributed $36.1 million to entities filing amicus briefs in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rodriquez, which challenges the constitutionality of a California law that requires nonprofits operating in the state to provide regulators with a copy of their Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form listing their largest donors. The Bradley Foundation has also been active in union busting, funding organizations pushing state bills, and lawsuits to force unions to repay dues collected in good faith.
January 6, 2021
- The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection subpoenaed Bradley Foundation Board Member Cleta Mitchell, an advisor to Trump who was reportedly with him that day. However, she refused to provide her phone and text records to the committee.
- The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has received more than $1.5 million from the Bradley Foundation. ALEC attempts to cover up its work on voter suppression legislation across the country. In addition, many of its members traveled to Washington to attend the rally that led to the violent insurrection at the Capitol.
The Big Lie
- In 2020, the Bradley Foundation provided $100,000 to the Claremont Institute, the think tank led by law professor John Eastman. After Trump lost the election, Eastman helped spread baseless claims of fraud and drafted detailed memos outlining the plan to have then-Vice President Pence invalidate legitimate Electoral College votes in order to prevent the peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.
- In 2018 and 2019, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a leading proponent of baseless election fraud claims, received more than $300,000 from the Bradley Foundation. PILF spread these lies in part by attempting to purge voter rolls based on false claims of fraudulent registrations.
- The Bradley Foundation is a major donor to the Heritage Foundation, giving more than $16.5 million to the right-wing think tank over the years. The Heritage Foundation has been a vocal proponent of the Big Lie, maintaining a database of more than 1,100 supposed instances of election fraud. A detailed analysis of the database by the Brennan Center for Justice concluded: “In short, the database overstates the problem of voter fraud, and its own cases disprove the claims by President Trump and some of his ‘Fraud Commission’ members that ‘large-scale voter fraud’ exists in America’s elections.”
- True the Vote is a Texas-based nonprofit that has received over $200,000 from the Bradley Impact Fund, an affiliate of the Bradley Foundation. True the Vote challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election with poorly planned and rushed lawsuits as well as unfounded claims of illegal ballot harvesting.
- Project Veritas doubled its funding in 2020 due to large grants from the Bradley Foundation. The far-right activist group, which is known for its use of secret recordings, spread false claims of election fraud by accusing U.S. Postal Service employees of tampering with ballots—a charge the agency vehemently denied.
Post-2020 Election Subversion
- Since the 2020 presidential election, the Bradley Foundation has supported the Claremont Institute financially in its efforts to install politicians who claim the election was stolen and its attempts to rewrite voting laws that would make it easier for right-wing politicians to manipulate election results.