How history, communism and tax exempt foundations have led us here (5)

In my last article I discussed how the Koch brothers underwrite a huge network of foundations, think tanks and political front groups. Upon reflection and to tell this story in full, I’ve come to realise that we need to look at this web a bit closer first. The likes of Breitbart, Steve Bannon, the Mercer family and more, will all get their turns.

The Heritage Foundation (HF) was founded in 1973. Donors over the years have included: the John M. Olin Foundation, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, the Koch brothers, the Scaife Foundations and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. All of these foundations are classed as 501(c)(3), meaning that they’re tax exempt organisations that don’t need to disclose who their donors are and donations are tax-deductible. As a tax exempt charity, donations are meant to be made to benefit the public good only, not private interest. The HF became well-known in 1980 for its three-thousand page, twenty volume set of policy recommendations called, Mandate for Leadership. It ended up becoming the Ronald Reagan administration’s blueprint, with sixty-percent of the mandate’s policies implemented within the first year of his presidency. The policies included trickle-down economics, huge cuts in social programs and the Strategic Defense Initiative, better known as ‘Star Wars.’ It’s of note that Rebekah Mercer has been a HF Trustee since 2014, more on the Mercer family later.  

I’m starting with the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation first, as documents that were hacked last year provide a rare glimpse into a right-wing foundation. The Bradley brothers, made their wealth from the Allen-Bradley Company with factory automation equipment and government contracts during World War I and World War II. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation was founded in 1942, after Lynde Bradley died, to assist local conservative causes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Harry Bradley, alongside the Koch brothers’ father, Fred Koch, was one of the founding members of the John Birch Society (JBS). Before we look further into the Bradley Foundation, some background about the JBS is required.

After the Soviet Union (USSR) and America (US) worked together to defeat Nazi Germany in WW II, the US government was worried about communism becoming popular. At the time Americans were terrified that communism would ruin their social order and turn their country into the next USSR. Along came a Republican from Wisconsin, Senator McCarthy, looking to make a political name for himself. In 1950 he rose to prominence, when he alleged that communist spies had infiltrated the US government in a speech. Around this time, the USSR had successfully tested its first atomic bomb, and communists had won China’s civil war. He was adept at media manipulation and propaganda by blaming all of America’s woes on communism, even those he didn’t agree with were labeled communists. In 1953, he was named chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, allowing him to launch his own investigations. He had a reputation for bullying witnesses and ending careers of anybody that he accused. He decided to go after the US Army, whom he charged as being “soft” on communism, and began an investigation into it. His chief counsel in the investigation was lawyer, Roy Cohn, who incidentally was President Trump’s attorney, in the 70s and 80s. He was reportedly infatuated with an unpaid consultant on McCarthy’s senate committee, David Schine. Mr Schine was drafted into the army, nearly a year later, in late 1953. The army fought back, charging that Mr McCarthy was requesting special privileges for Mr Schine. Top aides to President Eisenhower also invoked executive privilege, protecting army officials from complying with McCarthy’s subpoenas.

This led to the first ever nationally televised congressional inquiry, the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. During the hearing, Mr McCarthy showed his true colours, for all of America to see with his bullying, rudeness and deceitfulness. Ultimately he was cleared of any charges with only Mr Cohn judged to have pressured the army for special treatment. His reputation after having been on television for two months was beyond repair. On December 2nd, 1954, the senate stripped him of his status and censured Mr McCarthy for engaging in conduct “contrary to senatorial traditions.” He died three years later in 1957.

The lawyer, Mr Cohn, with Mr McCarthy, that went on to meet Donald Trump in 1973, and to become his lawyer and mentor.

Associated Press Sen. McCarthy covers the microphones with his hands while having a whispered discussion with his chief counsel Roy Cohn

In 1958, Fred Koch co-founded JBS with retired right-wing businessman, Robert Welch, to fight the spread of communism in the US. Mr Welch made his fortune in candies such as Junior Mints, and believed that social programs such as flouride in water was a communist plot to take over the US. Fred Koch was a leader of JPS until he died in 1967. In 1961 his son Charles Koch, also bought a lifetime membership with JBS and opened up a JBS bookstore in Wichita. In that same year Koch Sr, published his pamphlet, ‘A Businessman Looks at Communism.’ It claimed that the US Supreme Court was pro-communist and that President Eisenhower was soft on communism, that public schools used communist books, and that many teachers were communists. Also that year JBS announced that it’s top priority for the year was a ‘Movement to Impeach Earl Warren,’ the chief justice of the US Supreme Court. Mr Warren inspired ire amongst them due to his stance on the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, that found racial segregation in schools to be unconstitutional. This and other decisions championing racial equality inspired the civil rights protests in those times, and it led to civil rights laws passing congress, that were upheld by the Warren court. In 1962 JBS promoted a pamphlet by Alan Stang, called ‘It’s Very Simple’ which attacked the civil rights movement. Mr Stang called Martin Luther King, Junior, a communist, claiming that his goal was to pressure congress “to install more collectivism.” He also later claimed that Rosa Parks was trained by communists before her refusal to move to the back of the bus in 1965.

After President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Koch Sr created a national advertisement in the New York Times, blaming his death on communists. The following year the ads ran nationally, and congress approved the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1965 congress passed the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. JBS responded with a campaign in its bookstores and in the newspapers called ‘What’s Wrong with Civil Rights?’ arguing that they had more than enough rights. Charles also spoke in public of his views  that the government’s only role was to police interference within the free market. In 1966 Koch Snr became ill, and Charles Koch took over as chairman of the family corporation. He died in 1967 and donations in tribute were requested by his family, in his name for: Wichita’s, John Birch Society American Opinion Bookstore.

In 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated and congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 against discrimination in housing. JPS promoted opposition to anti-discrimination legislation in its usual manner, including on their radio shows. They also had a ‘Win the War’ strategy of signing up people to support the Vietnam war, this ended up being the main cause of the breakup between Charles Koch and JBS. He resigned from his membership and pulled his advertising from the American Opinion, their monthly magazine, and his support from its radio show’s. On May 19th, 1968, Charles Koch and Bob Love ran a full-page in the Wichita Eagle, called ‘Let’s Get Out of Vietnam now’ calling for an unconditional pull-out because it was too expensive. Mr Love also explained that it was necessary to prevent the US from adapting to communism in a philosophical manner, through its wage and price controls, and taxes to pay for the war:

“This country will surely vote for a dictator, if the chaos and confusion of inflation continue to mount.”

Harry Bradley was also an ardent supporter of JBS and a devoted follower of Dr Fred Schwarz, an Australian that founded the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade in 1953, in Ohio. According to website, The Schwarz Report, the latter organisation still retains its legal identity, even today. Mr Schwarz was popular on the corporate speaking-circuit in the 1950s, and a big part of influencing American leadership about the threat of communism. He moved to the US in 1960 and wrote the bestseller You Can Trust the  Communists  (to be communists), and he took great pride in the fact that his ideas had influenced so many, including Ronald Reagan, well before he became president. Mr Bradley died in 1965 and it wasn’t until twenty-years later that the foundation received its huge cash injection. The Allen-Bradley company, was sold by their heirs, and bought by defense contractor Rockwell International in 1985, for US$1.65 billion. The Bradley Foundation’s assets jumped from US$14 million to US$290 million after the sale. It’s of interest that the foundation hired Michael Joyce from the John M. Olin Foundation, to run its operations. Mr Joyce had a long history within Republican politics and he was on the Ronald Reagan transition team in 1980, he also advised President Bush, as well as his father.   

As of June last year the Bradley Foundation had US$835 million in assets, it’s as large now as the three Koch family foundations combined. Hacked documents were released to the public by a group calling themselves, Anonymous Poland. While there is conjecture that Russia is behind it, neither the FBI or the foundation have reached a firm conclusion as to who it actually was. The information was a compressed file of thirty gigabytes and included more than 56,000 internal files about the foundation. The documents uncover a long-term strategy, and a detailed blue-print for spreading right-wing ideology state-by-state in the US.

For ease in this article from here on in, I will refer to the Bradley Foundation as BF. The documents uncovered how they evaluate each state’s infrastructure, with a score out of forty for the following characteristics:

Respected, dynamic leadership

Think tank(s)

Investigative journalism

Opposition research

Legal component

Receptive policy-makers

Symbolic with grassroots groups

Local funding support

The Journal Sentinel, has done a lot of work in replicating the data into charts and graphs and I recommend that you take a look at them all. In the Bradley Chart, Wisconsin and Michigan for example, both have scores of thirty-nine out of forty, they each lost one-point for ‘opposition research’ and ‘receptive policy-makers’ respectively. They have identified Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, as having strong conservative infrastructure, making them ready for “rightward” change. This data makes it easier for them to pinpoint the funding of established networks of right-wing organisations and to help far-right candidates to win elections. The documents also revealed that between 2011 and 2015, they gave US$1.6 million to American Majority, a front group that provides training to conservative activists and political candidates. In that time the group trained 6,000 local political leaders, and helped candidates run for positions such as municipal judge. Plans to train BF funded groups in “crisis communication” for opposition research groups, cite the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as an example. ALEC is another non-profit, front group that has been drafting bills and talking points for Republicans to recite and push, especially in the media, since 1973. They were caught “flat-footed” the documents say, after the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) published ALEC’s secret library of “model bills”. The bills are voted on behind closed doors by corporate lobbyists, and are ready-to-go policies that favour corporations, for lawmakers and politicians. It launched the website, if you are interested in reading further. BF also wants Richard Berman to develop an “off-the-shelf, public-relations strategy” for “conservative outfits caught in the media crosshairs”. More on Mr Berman and his role in all of this, later on. There was also a BF ‘Enemy List’ released in the hacked files that includes groups such as CMD above, and entities like Common Cause and Mother Jones. There is also a list of grants or donations, showing how it wants to use their Wisconsin model, nationally.     

Much more to explore in this series, including what I’ve already promised to explore, as well as how the web of foundations have infiltrated education, the law and economics, all over America, over many years. I will also look at the motivations as to why they’re doing it, including religion, and how all of that is looking with the Trump government.   

Many thanks to all of the sourced researchers, publications and artists involved in this series, to date.



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