Opinion: Morning Examiner

What they never tell you about who also funds ALEC

By |
Beltway Confidential,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,ALEC

Critics of the American Legislative Exchange Council — which concluded its 2013 annual conference in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 6 — regularly denounce it as a corporate tool due to its funding support from Fortune 500 giants.

But ALEC's critics and the politically correct journalists who echo them routinely tell only part of the story of the conservative legislative research and advocacy outfit.

To be sure, ALEC's financial support indeed includes big grants from the likes of the ExxonMobil Foundation, General Motors Foundation and Charles G. Koch Foundation.

Liberal grants to ALEC?

But there are some unexpected sources of ALEC support, too, as a search of contribution records reveals millions of dollars in grants from foundations that are anything but right-wing.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's $245,008 grant in 2011, for example, was "to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes."

The Pew Charitable Trusts' $145,000 grant in 2012 was for "policy support." And the purpose of the $250,000 from Lumina Foundation for Education in 2010 was "to help state legislators explore policy options intended to increase student success and productivity."

Look who funds ALEC's critics

ALEC Exposed is frequently cited by mainstream media journalists as a credible source about the group. ALEC Exposed is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy.

The CMD is supported entirely by activist liberal funders like George Soros, the Tides Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The latter's $75,000 grant in 2011 was "for the real economy project to educate the public and policy makers about the potential benefits of a financial transactions tax as a revenue raising option."

Tori Richards of Watchdog.org uncovered key aspects of CMD's political links:

"CMD certainly has the personnel to push a political agenda. Its director is Lisa Graves, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration and attorney with the Democratic staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She also was a legislative strategist with the ACLU."

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