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The Millionaires and Billionaires Funding White Supremacy

As the Black Lives Matter movement pushes our nation to re-examine the foundations of white supremacy and make concrete systemic changes, it’s imperative to expose the rich, established donors funding white supremacists and organizations that are promoting white supremacy. We commonly identify ‘white supremacy’ in America as small groups marching with Confederate flags or firebrand individuals spouting racist epithets that operate in the shadows. But white nationalism does not just exist in isolated outbursts – its roots run deep and are well fertilized by millions of dollars from wealthy and well-established American institutions. The institutions hide in plain sight in a way, with prestigious names and expensive websites. They don’t wave Nazi flags at their board meetings, but they do quietly fund some of our country’s worst offenders who systematically marginalize people of color and attack basic human rights.

This network of billionaire foundations, trusts, and institutions don’t just stop at funding white supremacy in our country with their regressive grants. They also provide funding to discredit climate science, attack the LGBTQ community, and sabotage workers’ rights here in the Northwest.

Racial hatred does not just exist in isolated events across our country, organically exploding at times. It is being sustained and promoted by deep pockets behind the veneer of wealthy privilege. Below is a list of white supremacy funders that also provide resources to regressive organizations in the Northwest.

  • The Lynde and Harry Bradley FoundationHQ: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In The Bell Curve, white supremacist Charles Murray explained disparities between white and Black populations as stemming from genetic differences, rather than any historical or structural disadvantages. He claimed anyone stuck in America’s “underclass” was there based on IQ and genetic inheritance. Murray’s racist eugenics “studies” resulted in some calling him the “Godfather of modern-day white supremacy” and his elevation to multiple fellowships at the American Enterprise Institute. As the “Bradley Fellow,” he received as much as $164,000 per year directly from the Bradley Foundation. The Foundation paid Murray an additional $250,000 in 2016 as a “Bradley Prize.”

Other Bradley Foundation grantees in the Northwest: the anti-worker “Freedom” Foundation, Discovery Institute, Washington Policy Center, Cascade Policy Institute.

  • Robert P. Rotella Foundation • HQ: Bellevue, WA

In mid-February, New York Magazine broke a story that the Washington State-based Rotella Foundation was a key funder of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer and his National Policy Institute. Spencer is one of the leaders of the modern-day white supremacist movement, helping to organize the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville which brought together white supremacists from across the country. The rally ended tragically with a deadly hit and run and a white supremacist charged with murder. Rotella has sent over $100,000 to the National Policy Institute.

Other Rotella Foundation grantees in the Northwest: Anti-worker “Freedom” Foundation, Washington Policy Center, ExoPolitics Institute (HI).

  • The Scaife Foundations • HQ: Pittsburg, PA

A web of radical anti-immigrant groups including the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has received millions in funding from the Scaife family foundations. CIS testified in Congress against immigration reform, claiming “virtually all illegal aliens are guilty of multiple felonies.” Most recently, they published an article on their website that favored holding immigrants in detention rather than releasing them due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. CIS was founded by white supremacist John Tanton, a close friend and beneficiary of the late Cordelia Scaife May. The foundation launched by Cordelia’s brother, Richard Mellon Scaife, has also donated $2.9 million to anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy.

Other Scaife Foundation grantees in the Northwest: Anti-worker “Freedom” Foundation.

White supremacy is a scourge on American society that has plagued our country for hundreds of years. Many people associate it with undereducated, white people in rural communities but that stereotype is dangerous and misguided. This regressive and destructive movement is being driven by millionaires and billionaires who are sowing the seeds of hatred and division all over the country, including here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s time we call out these wealthy bigots and shame them for who they are.

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