Earlier this summer, CMD exposed the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, a $800 million tax-exempt “charitable” organization pursuing a highly partisan game plan: funding an “infrastructure” on the right that benefits the Republican Party, while at the same time attempting to defund labor unions, “a principal funding pillar of the left” and a key supporter of the Democratic Party.
Bradley effectuates this agenda by funding the $8.9 million American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its sister organization, the $80 million State Policy Network (SPN). The two groups have been linked since the beginning. SPN’s predecessor, the Madison Group, was launched by ALEC in the 1980s at the Heritage Foundation, where ALEC was also housed. SPN was formally created in 1992 as an “umbrella organization” for a group of “mini-Heritage Foundations” in the states.
Today, SPN has 66 affiliate members, mostly state-based think tanks, and 87 associate members. Associate members include funders, advocacy groups, and manufactured grassroots, such as the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity. You can find a map of SPN primary and associate groups on CMD’s website.
In many states, the SPN group operates as the policy, communications, and litigation arm of the ALEC agenda, giving ALEC’s “model bills” and cookie-cutter corporate agenda a sheen of academic legitimacy and state-based support. If ALEC churns out the bills, SPN will produce the “studies” and deliver the “experts” to testify on those bills. The Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity group provides the “grassroots” clamor for the policy. Made to appear as wholly separate and independent entities advocating for the same policy, this troika of institutions is funded by the same corporations and right-wing foundations — like the Bradley Foundation.
Bradley has been kind to ALEC. The foundation has given the corporate bill mill $1.1 million between 1986-2015, recommending an additional $200,000 …read more