Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

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The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is one of the preeminent funding sources for the far-right movement, and funds the majority of "think-tanks" and propaganda mills of the radical right. The foundation was started by Lynde and Harry Bradley.

Contents

Background

Lynde and Harry Bradley brothers were part of one of Milwaukee's most prominent families. Their grandfather was William Pitt Lynde, one of Wisconsin's first two congressmen who also served as the state's U.S. Attorney, an alderman, and a mayor of Milwaukee. In 1903, Lynde and Harry founded a business that would become the Allen-Bradley Company, a major manufacturer of electronic and radio components.

By 1942, with a decent fortune from the Allen-Bradely Company, the brothers formed the Allen-Bradley Foundation, which quickly became a key benefactor for local institutions, but while it gave a few grants to right-wing groups like the Freedoms Foundation and Morality in Media, it was basically just local philanthropy.

Harry was the more political of the two brothers and a man with extreme right-wing views. Harry was an key early financial supporter of the John Birch Society, one of the country's leading far-right organizations, based in nearby Appleton, WI.

Robert Welsh, who founded the Society in 1958, was a regular speaker at Allen-Bradley sales meetings. Harry distributed Birchite literature, as did Fred Loock, another key figure at the company. They also supported the Australian doctor Fred Schwarz, founder of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade and a right-wing Midwest radio program produced by anti-communist producer Bob Siegrist. Harry's main political targets were "World Communism" and the U.S. federal government, not necessarily in that order. His political philosophy was laissez-faire capitalism, and he was strongly opposed to anything that might restrict his freedom to conduct his business as he saw fit. His promotion of "freedom", however, did not extend to his own workers. While women had worked at the plant since 1918, and made up nearly a third of the workforce during World War II, they weren't paid the same as men. They finally sued in 1966, charging the company paid less to women than male workers operating the same machines. A federal judge ruled in their favor.

Allen-Bradley was one of the last major Milwaukee employers to racially integrate, and then only through legal pressure. By 1968, when the company's workforce had grown to more than 7,000, Allen-Bradley employed only 32 Blacks and 14 Latinos. The company was eventually forced to adopt an affirmative action plan, after the federal government backed a discrimination suit. In 1970, a two and half month strike forced them to agree to allow payroll deduction of union dues. All of these advancements for their workers furthered their view that government intercession for equal rights for minorities or based on gender where sign of the ills of "liberalism" and should be stopped. Lynde, Harry, and Frank Loock all shared a view of themselves as benevolent dictators over their workers, more than able to decide what their employees needed, without any interference from the government. If that included racial and gender discrimination, that was their business and no one else's.

In the mid 1980s the foundation became a major funding source along with Richard Mellon Scaife for the Free Congress Foundation.

By 1985 things changed dramatically for the Allen-Bradley Foundation, when the Allen-Bradley Company was sold to Rockwell International, a leading defense and aerospace conglomerate, for a whopping $1.7 billion. The Foundation benefited heavily from the sale, seeing its assets shoot up overnight from around $14 million to more than $290 million, catapulting it into the ranks of the country's largest foundations. At that point its name was changed to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, to publicly separate it from the company. Flush with new money and an understanding that they were now poised to play a more national role, foundation trustees decided it was time to hire a professional to run the organization. They found their man in New York at the John M. Olin Foundation.

With this move they had professional leadership in administering the operational aspects of the foundation, which is now reported to be the largest, it's conspiratorial roots have still left its imprint on the sort of "research" which it was helping disseminate.

Michael S. Joyce, Bradley's the then newly minted president of the foundation, was a former high school teacher from an Irish Catholic Democratic Party family in Cleveland, Ohio. By 1972 he was voting for Richard Nixon and advancing in conservative circles. "His move to the political big time came in 1978," wrote Barbara Miner in the Spring, 1994 issue of the Milwaukee-based education newspaper Rethinking Schools, "when he went to New York to work for the Institute for Educational Affairs, a neoconservative organization started by right wing trailblazer Irving Kristol and William Simon, secretary of the treasury for Presidents Nixon and Ford. The following year Simon asked Joyce to head the Olin Foundation."

The New York-based John M. Olin Foundation grew out of a family manufacturing business in chemicals and munitions. It funds nationally influential right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Hoover Institute of War, Revolution and Peace. It also gives large sums of money to promote conservative programs in the country's most prestigious colleges and universities. After Joyce left to take charge of the Bradley Foundation, William Simon replaced him as president at Olin.

Joyce had the national connections that the Bradley Foundation was looking for. He had served on Ronald Reagan's presidential transition team in 1980 and in the following years on several Reagan-Bush advisory boards and task forces. According to a 1985 profile in the Milwaukee Business Journal, he is believed to have helped William Bennett get his job as Secretary of Education under Reagan. Bennett himself served as a Bradley board member from 1988-89 [The Bradley Legacy, by John Gurda]. Joyce and Bennett remain close. Says Bennett, "When I've needed his advice, he has returned my calls saying, 'This is Coach Joyce and this is what I want you to do'"[Barbara Miner, Rethinking Schools, Spring, 1994.]

When Bennett, Jack Kemp, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Lamar Alexander, and Vin Weber went on to found the national Republican advocacy group Empower America in 1993, the founding conference was held in Milwaukee. In 1986, Joyce was named in an Atlantic Monthly article as one of the three people most responsible for the triumph of the conservative political movement. About the same time, The Chicago Tribune said he may be the voice of the GOP's future.

Joyce's personal viewpoint is more than traditional, emphasizing a view of family, "kinship" and community drawn from the cultures of ancient Israel and Greece. "I'm not talking about the 1950's," Joyce once told an interviewer, "I'm talking about 1950 B.C." (Milwaukee Journal, (10/30/94.) Joyce brought a more focused, sophisticated view to Bradley's funding. Under his leadership, Bradley strategically funded the authors and writers who could set the terms for national debate on key issues of public policy, the think tanks that could develop specific programs, the activist organizations that could implement those programs, and the legal offices that could defend those programs in court, as well as carry out legal offensives against other targets.

"Mike is pretty close to being the central figure (within conservative foundations). The chairman of the board or whatever you want to call it," says Waldemar Nielsen, author of Golden Donors, a book on the foundation movement. By 1992, he was receiving $310,000 in salary and benefits as president of the Bradley Foundation (Barbara Miner, Rethinking Schools, Spring, 1994). By Dec. 31, 1995, the foundation's total assets were $461,601,000, and it was making annual grants in excess of $20 million. (From Bradley's 1995 annual report).

Bradley's influence increased considerably after the Republicans lost the White House and leading conservative figures lost their influential government positions. It was these three factors - the Rockwell windfall, the hiring of nationally-connected Joyce and the Republicans' loss of the presidency - that made the Bradley-sponsored network of institutes, conservative writers, and think tanks so important in continuing to influence the direction of public policy in the U.S. It is now the premier right-wing foundation in the country.

"The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation illustrates the power of a well-financed foundation with a clearly articulated political and ideological vision...it is one of the nation's largest supporters of conservative thought and activity" (Buying a Movement: Right-Wing Foundations and American Politics, by People for the American Way)

The New York Times reported in July 2001 that Michael Joyce was leaving the Bradley Foundation, and Richard Larry recently quit as the head of the Sarah Scaife Foundation. The biggest news in the article was that statement that the Olin Foundation plans to "put itself out of business."

But there may be less to this story than imagined. The story doesn't mention that Joyce, who is quoted extensively, has already mentioned that he was moving to create the Americans for Community and Faith-Centered Enterprise, an organization spearheading Bush's controversial faith-based initiative. And how much control did Larry really have, working for Richard Scaife?

Bradley is certainly not the only conservative foundation promoting right-wing causes. It works in concert with a number of others to develop, maintain and promote a right-wing intelligencia that can play a major role in the manipulation of public opinion and the formulation of public policy. In fact, the Olin, Sarah Scaife, Smith Richardson and Bradley foundations are often called the "Four Sisters" for their tendency to fund similar conservative projects, publications and institutions. But Bradley, with the largest assets of the conservative foundations, with its national connections and a sharply focused political agenda, plays a leading role in the conservative movement.

Board Members

Former Members

Other Officers

Funding Source For:

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