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The Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation Win September Sidney for “ALEC:Exposed,” A Look Into the Secretive Collaboration Between Corporations and Politicians on State Legislation

NEW YORK: The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today that Mary Bottari and Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine have won the September Sidney Award for “ALEC:Exposed,” their joint expose of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an obscure but powerful conservative group that brings state legislators and corporations together to write laws.

The Center for Media and Democracy published 800 leaked ALEC documents online at ALEC Exposed, and The Nation devoted a special section of the magazine and to analyzing

and contextualizing the material. The project examines ALEC’s role in drafting cookie-cutter state-level bills on issues like voting rights, minimum wage, health care reform, environmental policy and prisons. These model bills reflect the agendas of the major corporations who fund ALEC and the conservative legislators who collaborate with them.

"ALEC Exposed—a joint project by The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy—offers a never-before-seen look at the origins of the rightwing legislative assault on labor, education, healthcare and voting rights in states across the country. It is an important reminder to refocus on the battle to loosen the grip of corporate America and renew democracy in the states," said Nation editor and Hillman judge Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Key Findings:

• At ALEC, corporations and state legislators work together as equals to draft model legislation, which is distributed to members across the country.
• ALEC has drafted model legislation that made polluting easier, voting harder, and wages lower.
• The anti-collective bargaining laws that sparked massive protests in Wisconsin and Ohio began as ALEC model bills.
• Many state legislators work part time with little staff support. ALEC’s genius has been to “outsource” bill writing to committees of corporations and conservatives. As with most privatization schemes, corporations profit at public expense.
• There’s no question about who is paying the bills at ALEC. Corporate members pay thousands of dollars to participate while the dues of legislators account for just 2% of ALEC’s revenues.

Lisa Graves is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of,,, and the newest site She is CMD’s Editor-in-Chief. She served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice on national legal policy, and Chief Counsel for nominations for the U.S. Courts in the Article III Judges Division. She worked as the Senior Legislative Strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union on national security issues, as a partner at a think tank on national security surveillance and as an adjunct professor at one of the top law schools in the country.

Mary Bottari is the Director of CMD’s Real Economy Project. She is an experienced writer, researcher and consumer advocate. When “too-big-to-fail" financial service institutions collapsed the global economy, the Real Economy Project worked hard to demystify complex financial issues and give average Americans a role in shaping the policy solutions being debated in Congress. Mary serves on the board of Americans for Financial Reform, the coalition of labor and consumer groups that worked on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill and helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

The Nation is America's oldest weekly magazine, and the country's most widely read journal of opinion. John Nichols, Joel Rogers, Laura Dresser, Wendell Potter, Lisa Graves, Julie Underwood, Mike Elk, and Bob Sloan contributed to "ALEC: Exposed." Liliana Segura, The Nation's Associate Editor, edited this special section.

Read an interview about ALEC here

The Sidney Award is given once a month to an outstanding piece of socially-conscious journalism, or a leading journalistic association, by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, which also awards the annual Hillman Prizes every spring. For more information please click here.

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Julie Sedlis

Certificate designed by Edward Sorel

The Sidney is awarded monthly to a piece published in an American magazine, newspaper, on a news site, or a blog. Television and radio broadcasts by an American news outlet are also eligible, as are published photography series.

Deadlines are the last day of each month. The piece must have been published in the month preceding the deadline. In the case of magazines, please nominate according to the issue date on the publication, not when it first appeared.

Nominations are accepted for one's own work, or for someone else's.

The Foundation will announce a winner on the second Wednesday of each month. Recipients will be awarded $500, a bottle of union-made wine, and a certificate designed especially for the Sidney by New Yorker cartoonist, Edward Sorel.

If you wish to nominate yourself or a piece by anyone else, please click here for our nomination form.If you have any further questions about the nomination process, please send your inquiry to [email protected]