Daniel Bice for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Long a player on the national stage, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee has been quietly using its vast resources to construct state-by-state networks of activist groups to win support for its conservative agenda from coast to coast.
This previously undisclosed effort by the Bradley Foundation was revealed in hundreds of thousands of documents swiped by international hackers from the foundation’s server late last year.
Those internal documents, obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in recent months, show the conservative powerhouse is working to duplicate its success in Wisconsin under Republican Gov. Scott Walker, focusing on such swing states as North Carolina and Colorado….
Those internal files point out the Bradley Foundation was following the lead of liberal philanthropists called the “Gang of Four” who famously achieved this by putting big bucks into Colorado to further their agenda there more than a decade ago. A book on their success, called “The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado,” came out in 2010.
Today, Wisconsin liberals have their own alliance of groups, often funded by unions or billionaires such as George Soros, that provide help to Democrats and liberal candidates for nonpartisan office.
One Wisconsin Now, for example, digs up dirt on conservative politicians that can be used in political ads, and Emerge Wisconsin and Wisconsin Progress recruit and train liberal candidates and grass roots activists, just as the Bradley-funded American Majority does for candidates on the other side side of the aisle. The Center for Media and Democracy posts original reporting and stories while pursuing a left wing agenda.
An internal Bradley document compiles a list of 17 liberal organizations that “attack groups and people helping the Foundation further its mission” — an enemies list, of sorts. Making the list were two Wisconsin groups, One Wisconsin Now and the Center for Media and Democracy, and a host of national ones, including Media Matters for America, Democracy Alliance and Open Society.
The Bradley Foundation board voted in 2014 to approve pursuing grants intended “to mitigate the damage” these groups can do, according to the minutes of the meeting.
But Wisconsin liberals already trail their conservative counterparts in important ways. They don’t have state-based legal centers or think tanks, for instance.