Mike Browne, Deputy Director
MADISON, Wis. — The state’s largest corporate special interest lobbying outfit, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), is hosting a pre-election pep rally for Gov. Scott Walker today. The “Business and Industry Luncheon ” includes a panel discussion whose participants are all funded in part by right-wing mega-funder the Bradley Foundation, overseen for 15 years by Gov. Walker’s campaign chair.
“WMC is not putting on a legitimate discussion of state policy among leading academics,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Instead they’re sponsoring a pro-Scott Walker pep rally with Bradley Foundation underwritten cheerleaders.”
According to the WMC promotional materials, their event features, “… a discussion panel comparing the policy decisions in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota and the impact they have on each state’s economy.” Participants include representatives of the Illinois Policy Institute, the Minnesota-based Center of the American Experiment and University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Noah Williams.
The Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation has supported the Illinois Policy Institute and Center of the American Experiment to the tune of at least $480,000 from 2005 through 2016, the latest year for which federal tax disclosures are available. Additionally, the Bradley Foundation’s report on how it doled out over $37 million in 2017 indicates UW professor Noah Williams’ Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy snagged $200,000 for the year.
Ross noted One Wisconsin Now had earlier uncovered how Williams sought work on Walker’s 71-day long run for President and produced “studies” touting a Walker supported tax loophole and the deal to give Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn $4.5 billion in state and local subsidies to build a factory in Wisconsin.
A One Wisconsin Now analysis last month showed Bradley has invested a jaw-dropping $154 million to support its higher education agenda.
In the 2018 election cycle the WMC has pitched in $2.8 million for television advertising to try to help save Walker’s electoral prospects. In addition, the WMC and the Bradley Foundation have a well established pro-Walker partnership. Since 2005 Bradley has moved over $831,000 to the WMC Foundation, including support for “public education projects” like pro-Walker television advertising in the lead up to the 2012 recall election.