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Einhorn Family Foundation Behind Voter Suppression Billboards
One Wisconsin Now and theGrio have uncovered that the Milwaukee-based Einhorn Family Foundation is the "private family foundation" that funded controversial billboards in Milwaukee which warned: "VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY! 3 1/2 years and a $10,000 fine." The billboards were denounced as voter suppression by Mike Wilder, director of the African-American Round Table, and other community groups. The billboards were put up in largely African-American and Latino communities in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Columbus by media behemoth Clear Channel, but the client remained anonymous.
The billboards were first put up around Milwaukee for the 2010 election cycle even though there was no evidence of any coordinated voter fraud in the state. They reappeared in September 2012. In between, Wisconsin passed a strict ALEC-inspired voter ID law in May 2011 that threatened to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of African Americans, the elderly and students. The law was found to violate the right to vote enshrined in the Wisconsin Constitution by two state court judges, but confusion over the status of the law and whether or not identification needs to be presented at the polls is still prevalent.
After increasing public pressure by civil rights groups, which included the online group Color of Change, Clear Channel (owned by Bain Capital) agreed to remove the billboards in mid-October, but the origin of the funding for the billboards was still unclear.
An investigation by theGrio.com and One Wisconsin Now, identified the Einhorn Family Foundation as the group that bought the ads. Stephen Einhorn, the head of the foundation and his wife Nancy have donated $49,750 to Governor Scott Walker since 2005. Stephen Einhorn is also the founder of Einhorn Associates, inc., a Milwaukee-based firm that provides investment banking services to chemical companies.
The groups also revealed that the Einhorn Family Foundation received $10,000 in 2010, right around the time the billboards went up, from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation "to support a public education project," but there are no other public details about how that money was spent. The Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation has spent almost $500 million on conservative causes since 2001. The foundation is best known for its advocacy for the privatization of public schools (so called "school choice" laws), but the head of the foundation, Michael Grebe is no stranger to politics having served as the chair of Walker's campaign committee Friends of Scott Walker and the leader of his transition team.