Saturday, July 12, 2014


Our friends at One Wisconsin Now (OWN) has taken on one of the front groups funded by the dark money of the Bradley Foundation, the utterly misnamed "Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty" for their false pretenses of being for the public interest.

There has been a battle of the press releases, with OWN giving a proverbial whooping to WILL and its sock puppet in chief, Rick Esenberg.

The gentle reader should read the entire thing, but this is too good to pass up:
Established in 2011, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit advertising itself as seeking to “advance the public interest in the rule of law … in partnership with like-minded individuals and organizations.”

In reality, the right-wing Bradley Foundation has been the almost exclusive underwriter of WILL’s activities. For the years in which Federal IRS records are available for both the Bradley Foundation and WILL, 2011 and 2012, Bradley funds accounted for over 90 percent of the total money WILL reported raising. (NOTE – WILL has released their 2013 990, however at this time the 2013 990 for the Bradley Foundation has not been released.)

Why is this significant? The President and CEO of the Bradley Foundation, Michael Grebe, has also served as a chair of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign since 2010.

A review of their case filings and other documents reveals that their activities show a remarkably close relationship to the policy and political ambitions of Gov. Scott Walker. In fact, WILL has gone so far as to threaten legal action against the school board on which Gov. Walker’s November election opponent sits.

In sum, Gov. Walker has the benefit of a well-funded “public interest” law firm at the ready to defend and promote his interests in court and in the media.


  1. Thanks for the link and commentary. OWN and a couple other orgs are getting majority pieces of the little money or time I have to donate to politics. The D candidates are getting questions asking for details about their usually broad and non-detailed talking points.

  2. Thanks nonquixote, well said.

  3. I think it's without question that right-wing interests outspent left-wing interests almost every time post citizens United. Trying to use the monied interests counter point is a failure every time.

  4. It's great that OWN is exposing the Bradley Foundation and their relationship with political operative Rick Esenberg and Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. Both Bradley and WILL both somehow claim tax-exempt status as 501(c)(3)s--provided that they follow IRS rules that state they "may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."
    It's their plainly politically-partisan activities that call the tax status into question. Bradley was called out for its work with the Heartland Institute and it's "Operation Angry Badger" leading up to the 2012 recall.
    Esenberg, a member of the Federalist Society, worked for Michael Grebe at Foley & Lardner. Esenberg made his name by writing a paper in 2007 that criticized Judge Louis Butler, who was then running against Michael Gablemann for the state Supreme Court. This was the basis for the right-wing allegation of "activist" judges.
    Since then, the right has become the Court majority.
    Esenberg continues his hardly non-partisan work, hardly representing public interests.
    Taxing the likes of Bradley, WILL, and WMC certainly would go a long way toward deficit reduction and ending the crony corruption of corporate welfare.