The Bradley Foundation’s Election Deniers
Board member Cleta Mitchell and Bradley-funded group train army of zealots to watch over elections.
The efforts by attorney Cleta Mitchell to overturn the election of Joe Biden caused a national controversy in January 2021 that embarrassed the Milwaukee-based law firm Foley & Lardner, long a paragon of the political and corporate establishment, both locally and nationally. Mitchell, who had worked as an attorney for the firm since at least 2006, was involved in the infamous phone call by Donald Trump where he pressured Georgia election officials to overturn the legal election results favoring Biden.
The law firm quickly declared it had no knowledge of these activities by Mitchell, but the storm did not subside. She soon resigned from Foley, with the firm noting that “Ms. Mitchell concluded that her departure was in the firm’s best interests.” But at Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which was once a pretty elite institution itself, albeit with a clear conservative agenda, there was no move to get rid of Mitchell from its board of directors, where she had served since at least 2013.
That same month the 65 Project, a bipartisan, nonprofit effort “to protect democracy… by holding accountable lawyers who engage in fraudulent and malicious efforts to overturn legitimate elections,” filed an ethics complaint against Mitchell with the District of Columbia Office of Disciplinary Counsel. “A full investigation… will demonstrate the egregious nature of Ms. Mitchell’s actions… and the serious risk that Ms. Mitchell will repeat such conduct unless your office acts on this matter.”
The charges for which Mitchell should be investigated and disciplined, the complaint charged, included:
-“Ms Mitchell knowingly counseled and assisted her client in criminal and fraudulent behavior.
-Ms. Mitchell engaged in illegal conduct that reflects adversely on her honesty and trustworthiness.
-Ms Mitchell engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or impersonation.”
It’s the sort of stuff the bosses at Foley were probably very grateful they were no longer connected to, but again, the Bradley Foundation seemed unfazed. Indeed, it’s become clear the foundation’s policy is now united with Mitchell in her attempts to persuade Americans that their elections are fraudulent. A New Yorker story by Jane Mayer calculated that since 2012 the $850 million foundation has spent some $18 million on groups tied to voter suppression legislation, and most recently on stoking false fears of a stolen election. It has been a generous funder of a list of groups working to promote the Big Lie, including the Heritage Foundation, ALEC (American Legislative Action Council), Federalist Society, Honest Election Project (formerly the Judicial Education Project), Election Integrity Project California, FreedomWorks’ National Election Protection Initiative,
And a recent story by the New York Times reported that Mitchell is “recruiting election conspiracists into an organized cavalry of activists monitoring elections” in the future. It reported on her speech to 150 activists at a conference center outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The Conservative Partnership Institute is also funded by the Bradley Foundation, which gave it $200,000 over a two-year period, according to Source Watch.
Election officials who examined Mitchell’s training methods and statements for the Times said they “promote particularly aggressive methods — with a focus on surveillance — that appear intended to feed on activists’ distrust and create pressure on local officials, rather than ensure voters’ access to the ballot.”
“A test drive of the strategy in the Virginia governor’s race last year highlighted how quickly the work — when conducted by people convinced of falsehoods about fraud — can disrupt the process and spiral into bogus claims, even in a race Republicans won,” the story reported. “Mitchell has repeatedly held up Virginia, and particularly Fairfax County, as the national model” for what she hopes to accomplish. Scott Konopasek, who served as registrar in Fairfax VA, at the time, said “the operation ate up county workers’ time with dozens of information requests, as well as informal interrogations. ‘Everything they saw that they didn’t understand was fraud in their minds and that’s how they would frame the questions,’ he said. ‘It was always accusatory.’”
In some states there is an overlap between Mitchell’s program and the Republican National Committee’s “multimillion-dollar investment” in overseeing elections, “hiring 18 state ‘election integrity’ directors and 19 state ‘election integrity’ lawyers. The party has so far recruited more than 5,000 poll watchers and nearly 12,000 poll workers,” the story noted.
And there’s no doubt the greatest efforts to monitor and harass election officials will be in the big cities of swing states like Wisconsin, with Milwaukee and Madison as top targets.
Mitchell declined an interview with the New York Times and as of publication the Bradley Foundation had not responded to requests for comment by Urban Milwaukee.
- Senator Agard Statement on Senator Knodl’s Continued Relitigation of the 2020 Presidential Election - State Sen. Melissa Agard, Senate Democratic Leader - Aug 29th, 2023
- Report Calls For Criminally Charging State’s Fake Electors - Henry Redman - Dec 19th, 2022
- Vos Withdraws Subpoenas, Ends Gableman Probe - Henry Redman - Aug 30th, 2022
- Judge Blasts Gableman Probe, Deleted Records - Henry Redman - Aug 17th, 2022
- Vos Fires Gableman, Ends Election Probe - Shawn Johnson - Aug 14th, 2022
- Judge Orders Gableman To Pay $163,000 In Legal Fees - Rich Kremer - Aug 2nd, 2022
- Prosecute 2020 Fake Electors, Advocates Demand - Erik Gunn - Aug 1st, 2022
- Trump Calls For Nullification of Wisconsin’s 2020 Election - Henry Redman - Jul 12th, 2022
- Legal Fight Over Gableman Probe Keeps Growing - Shawn Johnson - Jun 30th, 2022
- Back In the News: Fake Elector Scheme Dogs Ron Johnson - Bruce Murphy - Jun 28th, 2022
Read more about 2020 General Election here