The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation ("the Bradley Foundation") has been called "the country's largest and most influential right-wing organization" because of the volume of grants it distributes each year, a large number of which go to supporting a network of neoconservative-led groups.1 However, in terms of total assets, the foundation barely makes it onto the list of the largest 100 foundations in the United States. At the end of 2007 it had $831 million in assets, making it the 83rd largest.2 In 2006 it paid out grants of more than $32 million and made commitments to give $8.45 million more.3 The foundation provides funding to a variety of organizations, including think tanks, advocacy groups, media and legal organizations, and religious and philanthropic institutions.
Bradley does not directly take stances on foreign policy issues; however, some of its grantees—notably the Hudson Institute, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the Heritage Foundation—address foreign and military policy in their advocacy and education work. The Bradley Foundation's priorities are often domestically oriented, such as a school voucher program launched in Wisconsin, where the foundation is located. The foundation led the right-wing campaign to have the government support faith-based programs, an effort that President George W. Bush praised in July 2002 at the Milwaukee Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ—a Bradley grant recipient.4
History and Leadership
In 1903, Lynde Bradley and Stanton Allen founded what would become known as the Allen-Bradley Company, a manufacturer of rheostats—instruments that controlled electrical currents—in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.5 Lynde's brother Harry became a co-owner. After Lynde died in 1942, his assets were used to create the charitable Lynde Bradley Foundation.6 In 1985, the instrument company was sold to Rockwell International, and much of the proceeds went to the foundation, which had by then changed its name to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.7
Harry Bradley belonged to the right-wing John Birch Society and was a frequent contributor to the National Review.8 Both Lynde and Harry were conservative philanthropists who believed in "American democratic capitalism" by way of "free representative government and private enterprise." Thus, Bradley's programs "support limited, competent government; a dynamic marketplace for economic, intellectual, and cultural activity; and a vigorous defense at home and abroad of American ideas and institutions."9
Beginning in the late 1970s, Bradley played an important role in fomenting neoconservatism through its support of AEI, often considered home base for that political faction. Commenting on this period, Irving Kristol, a key intellectual architect of neoconservatism, writes that AEI's efforts to recruit neoconservatives in the 1970s and 1980s was "facilitated by the appearance on the scene of a rejuvenated Bradley Foundation and John M. Olin Foundation."10
Michael Joyce, described by Kristol as "an accomplished neoconservative thinker in his own right,"11 served as president of the Bradley Foundation from 1985 to 2001; he had earlier been president of the now-defunct Olin Foundation.12 Hillel Fradkin is a past Bradley vice president, and William Kristol, son of Irving, served as a project director at the foundation in the early 1990s.
Michael W. Grebe, president and CEO of the foundation since 2002, previously served on Bradley's Board of Directors for six years;13 he is also chairman of the board of the Philanthropy Roundtable.14 Before joining Bradley, Grebe was chairman and CEO of Foley & Lardner law firm and a Republican national committeeman of Wisconsin.15
Bradley divides its grants among various "program interests" that it organizes, as of 2009, in seven categories: improve education; promote economic growth and prosperity; revitalize civil society; strengthen private initiative; defend and advance freedom; intellectual infrastructure; and legacy in Milwaukee.16
As Bradley states under the "Defend and Advance Freedom" section of its 2007 Annual Report, the grantmaking under this category "traditionally is directed to projects and institutions contributing in an important way to the development and implementation of a defense and security policy that defends American interests at home and abroad. It seeks to encourage those who work vigorously to defend the tradition of free representative government."17 The foundation gave nearly $3 million to projects to "defend and advance freedom" in 2007.18
But as the list of Bradley grantees makes clear, the foundation's take on advancing freedom has a militaristic edge. Many of Bradley's grantees are among the leading organizations of the right wing, particularly among neoconservatives, some of which played instrumental roles in shaping and promoting the "war on terror" policies of the George W. Bush administration. In 2007, for instance, Bradley granted money to: American Enterprise Institute ($525,000); Hudson Institute ($440,000); Manhattan Institute ($345,000); Heritage Foundation ($340,000); David Horowitz Freedom Center ($325,000); Federalist Society ($260,000); Institute on Religion and Public Life ($225,000); Ethics and Public Policy Center ($200,000); American Foreign Policy Council ($130,000); Center for Security Policy ($100,000); Foundation for Defense of Democracies ($100,000); Foreign Policy Research Institute ($85,000); Institute on Religion and Democracy ($75,000); Project on Transitional Democracies ($70,000); and the Middle East Forum ($50,000), among many others.19 The Hoover Institution, the conservative think tank based at Standford University, received $280,000.20
Government-connected institutions also obtain grants from Bradley. The National Endowment for Democracy received $80,000 in 2007 in part for the publication of The Journal of Democracy,21 and the International Republican Institute received $26,000 in 2003.22
Bradley supports Encounter Books, a conservative publishing house, by funding Encounter for Culture and Education, Inc., giving it more than $1 million in 2007 alone.24 Encounter's most popular titles include David Horowitz's Indoctrination U.: The Left's War Against Academic Freedom; Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, by Andrew McCarthy of Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Londonistan, by Melanie Phillips; and Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor, by Roy Spencer.25
The Bradley Prize
The foundation annually distributes up to four $250,000 prizes to "innovative thinkers and practitioners whose achievements strengthen the legacy of the Bradley brothers and the ideas to which they were committed."26 Past recipients have included Victor Davis Hanson, John Bolton, Robert George, Mary Ann Glendon, Leon R. Kass, and Charles Krauthammer.27