The influence of one man

This is an opinion piece. Just keep that in mind before you have a cow this morning. Besides. Having human children is hard enough. A cow would be very uncomfortable…

Yesterday turned out to be a day of chasing squirrels for me. I’m at an in-between point on my project and waiting for a bit of feedback before I continue. Plus, it was good to take something of a break from the heavy lifting. Documenting that last chapter was nuts. There are 53 endnotes.

But in all that I was doing, all of those holes I was digging, I kept finding one smiling face at the bottom of each of them: Michael W. Grebe.

If I’ve met Michael Grebe, I don’t remember it. I know I’ve met others on the Bradley Foundation board. What I didn’t realize until yesterday was just how far the man’s influence reached.

The Bradley Foundation is a 501(c)3–your basic not for profit. Grebe is the President and Chief Executive Officer. Grebe was also once general counsel for the RNC and spent a lot of years at conventions.

(FYI, Reince Priebus, the current Chair for the Republican National Committee, was once general counsel for them and came back to chair Wisconsin for a while. The two were not from the same law firm.)

Bradley Foundation funds a bunch of stuff. For one, WILL – Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Blogger Rick Esenberg, you know, often-quoted, writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, makes-an-opinion-known Esenberg, who is not employed by Grebe or Bradley, just funded by them.

There’s the MacIver Institute where Brian Fraley works. Same arrangement I’m sure.

There’s Media Trackers.

There’s Franklin Center which publishes Wisconsin Reporter.

There’s Wisconsin Policy Research Institute including Charlie Sykes.

Nationally Bradley supplies major funding to that “Tea Party” group Americans for Prosperity and to The Heritage Foundation.

There’s columnist George Will on the Foundation board.

And when you consider the efficiency with which the Tea Party was usurped in Wisconsin, it all makes sense. To be Republican in Wisconsin means you are a Michael W. Grebe Republican.

To a growing extent, to be a Republican in America means you are a Michael W. Grebe Republican.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure you can draw the same kind of diagram for the way things are funded on the left, but that may be why I haven’t paid my dues in years. I kind of like being my own Republican.

Here’s what I’ve decided: If Scott Walker (and it’s likely he will) survives the recall to be brought down in scandal, Walker will have been no more than a sacrificed fly batting for Grebe. The run to limit public unions in Wisconsin will be already marked on the scoreboard. And judging by Grebe’s political donations, it’s still a very deep bench.

(PS I want my party back. Someday we’ll have to discuss how the Tea Party is joining both Democrats and Republicans in a goal to reclaim America. Lowi’s The End of the Republican Era might fit nicely into that discussion.)


  1. *Insert Commentary on the Benefits of Being a Libertarian Here*

  2. Conspiracy theory on the Right not involving the Koch Brothers! I like it.

    Anyway, it’s also the case on the Left. The Establishment is called as such for a reason. I think that’s generally why partisanship is mostly sizzle with no steak. That may be changing, though. It is harder to keep control over a blogger than a news outlet. It doesn’t take a lot of funding to sustain a blog, plus there are a lot more blogs out there than traditional media outlets.

    In a way, the sharply increasing partisanship is a good sign. It’s the first sign of the democratization of politics. Sure, in the early stages, the Establishment will do its best to manage the message, but they may not be able to do that for much longer.

  3. Yes, KPOM, and that’s the Lowi discussion we need to have soon.

    Just as long as we all know we’re pawns, we’re good to go. Plus, so far I don’t mind the outcomes. It does worry me a bit there might be a goal down the road that gets me, though.

  4. Whoa. Good thing he ate his Wheaties that morning.

  5. Shucks (that was my spam word this morning)


    Ya think?