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Website Exposes Big Business' Influence Over NH Legislation

July 20, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. - A new website is exposing what it says is one national organization's "big-business" influence over legislation in New Hampshire and around the country.

The site, ALECexposed.org, targets ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a powerful group funded by lawmakers and at least 300 corporations. The new website shows hundreds of "model" bills, which served as blueprints for such legislation as the "right-to-work" bill.

Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, says what her group found on the site is surprising.

"Word by word, we were alarmed to find that right-wing corporate interests had really influenced legislation that New Hampshire sponsored this session."

According to the website, more than 98 percent of ALEC's revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, and each corporate member pays between $7,000 and $25,000 per year, with additional amounts accepted. ALEC bills itself as the nation's largest, nonpartisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators.

ALEC is unique, says Mary Bottari, director of the Center for Media and Democracy, which created the ALEC Exposed website as a tool for everyday citizens. She says ALEC's member lawmakers and corporations meet behind closed doors in task forces to discuss and vote on model bills before they are introduced in state legislatures.

"So, the public never knows that the bill was drafted by a corporation and approved by a corporation, because that process takes place behind the scenes at ALEC."

The site, she says, includes a list of legislators and corporations involved with ALEC.

"Those aren't just the Koch Industries and the big tobacco companies, but it's mainstream corporations like Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola, and UPS and AT&T. "

Bottari says her organization gained access to the "model bills" when one whistleblower with access turned them over.

More information is on the website, ALECexposed.org.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH