- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2003

Conservatives soon will enjoy their own version of the annual MacArthur Foundation cash awards that almost invariably go to liberals.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation this week will name four persons, chosen from among 100 applicants, to receive $250,000 each, says Michael Grebe, Bradley Foundation president and former Wisconsin Republican Party chairman. That’s half as much as each of the biggest of the 40 annual MacArthur awards.

“The awards are not designed to publicize the Bradley Foundation but to shine a light on individuals who have made outstanding contributions and to encourage them and others to continue doing so,” Mr. Grebe said in an interview.

Until now, conservative philanthropic foundations like Bradley have donated to institutions and organizations, rather than individuals.

“I see these awards as a continuation of a tradition founded by [former Bradley President] Michael Joyce,” said Robert Heckman, a conservative political activist and former presidential aide. “Bradley looks for people and institutions with cutting-edge ideas like school choice, welfare reform and parental rights.”

Not all conservatives are enamored with the foundation.

“Like so many other foundations, somewhere along the way, Bradley strayed from the traditional, limited-government philosophy of its founder,” Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly said.

Bradley, with about $580 million in assets, for nearly 20 years provided financial fuel to conservative think tanks and publications around the country, including the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and organizations founded by William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, a weekly political magazine.

“The conservative movement would not be what it is today without the Bradley foundation,” Mr. Heckman said.

The recipients of the first Bradley awards will receive them on Oct. 7 at formal ceremonies at the Library of Congress.

Founded in 1942 (it adopted its current name in 1985), the Bradley Foundation has a reputation that links it with policies and top players in the current Bush administration. The Milwaukee Journal — the foundation’s “hometown newspaper” — reported recently that the “buzz in Washington and beyond has been that President Bush’s attack on Iraq came straight from the playbook of the neoconservatives, a group of mostly Republican strategists, many of whom have received funding from Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation. Neoconservatives differ from traditional conservatives in favoring a more activist role for government and a more aggressive foreign policy.”

The Bradley Foundation financed pioneering studies of faith-based programs by John Dilulio, Stanley Carlson-Thies and David Kuo, all three of whom President Bush chose to help direct the early days of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

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