Secret Donors to Nonprofit Pushing Trump's "Big Lie" Election Conspiracy Revealed - 2021-08-07
An organization linked to a major hub of efforts to undermine the credibility of the 2020 U.S. presidential election was funded to the tune of millions of dollars by several right-wing donors, according to a tax document obtained by The Intercept. The group, the Bradley Impact Fund, is linked to a larger foundation that was identified in a recent report as a central player in distributing money to organizations pushing conspiracy theories about election fraud, denying the results of the 2020 election, and undertaking legal efforts to overturn the presidential vote. Like the larger group, the Bradley Impact Fund has given money to groups that promote election fraud conspiracies and sought to overturn President Donald Trump's 2020 election defeat. Bradley Impact's donors, which were ostensibly cloaked in anonymity by the nonprofit's structure, are being revealed here for the first time.
The tax document obtained by The Intercept, a publicly filed IRS form that included a list of donors, shows a handful of large corporate and individual donors to the Bradley Impact Fund. The contributions listed in the fiscal year 2018 filing range from roughly $782,000 to $1.5 million. The Bradley Impact Fund operates as a donor-advised fund, a vehicle frequently used to allow anonymous contributions by letting donors give to a fund and then directing their contributions to particular recipients. Among the corporate donors to Bradley Impact, according to the tax document, were ABC Supply Co., whose website describes it as "the largest wholesale distributor of roofing in the United States"; the Boelter Companies, described online as "a provider of supplies, equipment, and design solutions for commercial foodservice, hospitality, and beverage industries"; and Bandon Golf Courses, which operates a number of golf courses in Oregon. Other donors include a former music industry CEO in Wisconsin, the CEO of a company that provides equipment to pipeline companies, and a number of small family foundations. (Neither Bradley Impact nor the donors listed in the tax filing responded to requests for comment from The Intercept.)
The largest donor to Bradley Impact listed in the fiscal year 2018 filing was the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. A much larger, linked nonprofit, the Bradley Foundation was identified by a recent New Yorker article as "an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules." The report described the foundation as a key promoter of the idea that election outcomes unfavorable to Trump are the result of fraud, doling out millions in grants to projects in the United States aimed at disqualifying purportedly illegitimate voters from participating in elections, according to the New Yorker, while using the issue of election integrity as a way of both undermining faith in the democratic process and manipulating election outcomes in a manner more favorable to candidates aligned with Trumpism. According to the 2018 filing, the Bradley Foundation gave $2.5 million to the Bradley Impact Fund. The Bradley Foundation said in a statement that the Bradley Impact Fund is a separate group. Five of Bradley Impact's board members and officers hold board seats at the Bradley Foundation, and the Bradley Impact group says its donors' outlook is aligned with the larger foundation. According to tax filings for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, Bradley Impact funded some of the same organizations funded by the Bradley Foundation — groups that constitute a network of election fraud conspiracists and undertook legal efforts to overthrow the 2020 election. The Public Interest Legal Foundation, identified by the New Yorker as "leading the way" in attempts to nullify the 2020 election, was given more than $300,000 by Bradley Impact over the two tax years. Bradley Impact also funded at least three right-wing groups that have promoted election fraud conspiracies: Turning Point USA, Project Veritas, and the Heritage Foundation.