New Hampshire Newspapers Create Faux Legitimacy For ALEC-Connected Group
Research ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER
Two of New Hampshire's top newspapers, the Union Leader and Concord Monitor, ran weekly opinion columns from members of the Josiah Bartlett Center (JBC), a Koch brother-funded ally of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), but failed to disclose the authors' conservative funding allowing them a platform to air their conservative agendas and legitimizing the viewpoints of their special interest backers.
The Union Leader And Concord Monitor Failed To Note Major Conservative Funding Behind Columnists
The Union Leader Failed to Disclose Koch Brothers' Money Behind Weekly Columnist. The Union Leader published a weekly column by Josiah Bartlett Center (JBC) President Charles Arlinghaus but never once mentioned Arlinghaus' or the JBC's connections to the right-wing Koch brothers or their association with the State Policy Network, a group of conservative state-based think tanks who are funded by right-wing donors. [Methodology, see below]
The Concord Monitor Never Identified Connection Between Weekly Columnist Grant Bosse And The Koch Brothers In His Columns. No official disclosure of Bosse's connection to the Koch brothers or ALEC was made by the Concord Monitor in his weekly opinion column, even after the paper ran an op-ed from Zandra Rice Hawkins of Granite State Progress exposing the connections between conservative corporate interests and Bosse's organization. [Concord Monitor, 3/22/13; Concord Monitor, 3/24/13]
Josiah Bartlett Center For Public Policy (JBC) Has Significant Ties To ALEC And The Koch Brothers
The Josiah Bartlett Center For Public Policy Is Listed As A State Policy Network Member. According to the State Policy Network (SPN) website, the Josiah Bartlett Center is an official member of the SPN. [SPN.org, Accessed 1/2/14]
Center For Media And Democracy: State Policy Network (SPN) Members "Are Major Drivers Of The Right-Wing, ALEC-Backed Agenda In State Houses Nationwide." According to a report by the Center for Media and Democracy, the SPN "'think tanks' work together in coordinated efforts to push their agenda, often using the same cookie-cutter research and reports, all while claiming to be independent and creating state-focused solutions that purportedly advance the interests or traditions of the state." The report also states:
Although many of SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, our in-depth investigation reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, ALEC-backed agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders, all while reporting little or no lobbying activities. Acknowledging the groups' political power and that their activities make them into something different than think tanks, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin called one SPN member a "do" tank. [Center for Media and Democracy, November 2013]
The Guardian: SPN And ALEC Are Funded By The Searle Freedom Trust. The Guardian reported that SPN members receive funding from tobacco giant Philip Morris and the billionaire Koch brothers who are notorious for supporting the conservative agenda:
The documents also cast light on the nexus of funding arrangements behind radical rightwing campaigns. The State Policy Network (SPN) has members in each of the 50 states and an annual warchest of $83m drawn from major corporate donors that include the energy tycoons the Koch brothers, the tobacco company Philip Morris, food giant Kraft and the multinational drugs company GlaxoSmithKline.
SPN gathered the grant proposals from the 34 states on 29 July. Ranging in size from requests of $25,000 to $65,000, the plans were submitted for funding to the Searle Freedom Trust, a private foundation that in 2011 donated almost $15m to largely rightwing causes.
The trust, founded in 1998, draws on the family fortune of the late Dan Searle of the GD Searle & Company empire - now part of Pfizer - which created NutraSweet. The trust is a major donor to such mainstays of the American right and the Tea Parties as Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), the Heartland Institute and the State Policy Network itself. [The Guardian, 12/5/13]
JBC Received More Than $400K From The Koch Brothers' Donors Capital Fund. According to Granite State Progress, a progressive watchdog in New Hampshire, the JBC received large donations from the Donors Capital Fund:
Between 2008 and 2010, JB received $425,364 from the Koch funded Donors Capital Fund, which represented anywhere from 39-70% of the center's income for those years. JBC also received thouseand from the Kochs' Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Meanwhile, JBC has supported policy propsals that would directly benefit the Koch Bothers' political and corporate interests, including opposing pollution regulations and calling for lower corporate taxes. [Granite State Progress, November 2013]
Donors Capital Fund Funded Special Projects At The JBC, Including Journalism Programs. Tax documents obtained by Granite State Progress expose the large sums granted to the JBC by Donors Capital Fund (click to enlarge):
Below shows Donors Capital Fund's itemized contributions to the Josiah Bartlett Center between 2009 and 2011. Donors has paid for Josiah Bartlett Center's direct mail programs, transparency project, and journalism project (likely the NH Watchdog).
[Granite State Progress, November 2013]
The JBC Acts As An "Academic Validator" And The New Hampshire Watchdog Acts As A "Media Amplifier." In describing the cooperation between ALEC and JBC, Granite State Progress showed how JBC supports ALEC-sponsored legislation to give it academic credibility. The same idea is then echoed by NH Watchdog and SPN affiliates with hopes of getting the issue picked up by mainstream media. Granite State Progress gives an example of the cycle in New Hampshire (click to enlarge):
[Granite State Progress, November 2013]
Union Leader Columnist Charles Arlinghaus Is President Of The Josiah Bartlett Center
Charles Arlinghaus, President Of Josiah Bartlett Center, Writes A Weekly Column On Public Policy For The Union Leader. According to his biography on the JBC website, Arlinghaus has contributed to the Union Leader on a weekly basis and was named JBC president in 2003. [Josiah Bartlett Institute, Accessed 1/2/14]
Arlinghaus Denied Any Financial Connection To The Koch Brothers. According to Arlinghaus' column, he has not received donations from the Koch brothers:
I, for example, am accused regularly of being a puppet of the Koch brothers -unfortunately without the mitigating effect of actual donations from them. I'm thinking of applying for a grant by asking them "if I get accused of being your tool enough, shouldn't we give in to what everyone wants? Please?"
In reality, it's a compliment or would be if any of the accusers were sensible people. People confident in their ideas debate them. Those who merely don't like "people like you" can't debate ideas so they resort to silly attacks. [Josiah Bartlett Center, 4/4/12]
ALEC Representatives And Arlinghaus Hosted An Event To Attack Obamacare. The invitation to an ALEC-sponsored event listed Arlinghaus as a speaker along with ALEC Director on Health Care Christie Herrera. The invitation read (emphasis added):
If you believe that these people must be stopped, join me in Concord NH On February 9, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. the New Hampshire Chapter of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is sponsoring an informational presentation on heath care costs in New Hampshire under the scheduled implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act ("Obamacare"). Christie Herrera, ALEC task Force Director on Health Care will offer her power point discussion. Ms. Herrera is a nationally published expert in the field. Accompanying Herrera will be Charlie Arlinghaus of the Josiah Bartlett Center for the unique New Hampshire perspective on the issue. [Facebook.com, Accessed 1/2/14]
Center For Media And Democracy: "[Arlinghaus and Bosse] Are Working On A National Conservative Agenda, Not A Local, New Hampshire Based Agenda." In an article exposing the conservative funding of the JBC and New Hampshire Watchdog, the Nashua Telegraph reported:
The report cites statements from Arlinghaus and Bosse in which they deny the group gets any financial support from the Koch Brothers.
But they unearthed some financial details of their donors that included the Donors Capital Fund with nearly $500,000 in grants since 2009 that at times made up 56 percent of Josiah Bartlett's financing.
The Koch Brothers have financially supported the Donors Capital Fund.
"They are working on a national conservative agenda not a local, New Hampshire-based agenda," charged Rebekah Wilce, project director for the Center for Media and Democracy during a conference call with reporters.
Arlinghaus said he was unaware of where the Donors Capital Fund got its support but likened it to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
"If the Koch Brothers did support it, we wouldn't know that and we wouldn't care," Arlinghaus said. [Nashua Telegraph, 12/13/13]
Concord Monitor Columnist Grant Bosse Is Connected To JBC Through Spinoff "Watchdog" Organization
The New Hampshire Watchdog Was Created By The JBC To Increase Media Exposure. As explained in an article detailing the New Hampshire Watchdog's beginnings, the organization was created to increase exposure for JBC's agenda (emphasis added):
The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy marks the one-year anniversary of its Watchdog Project by launching a news and information website designed to deliver the Center's ground-breaking reporting, commentary, and features. NewHampshireWatchdog.org will publish stories from investigative reporter Grant Bosse, Center President Charlie Arlinghaus's weekly column for the Union Leader, and updates on the Center's government transparency project overseen by Jay Flanders. [New Hampshire Watchdog, 11/19/09]
The Concord Monitor Ran 40 Op-Eds By Grant Bosse Over The Last Year. Over the last 12 months, Grant Bosse, former head of Koch-funded New Hampshire Watchdog, ran 40 opinion pieces in the Concord Monitor that covered climate change denial, opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and anti-Union rhetoric among other conservative ideals. [Methodology, see below]
Bosse Relinquished His Op-Ed Column At Concord Monitor To Become Official GOP Operative. According to Bosse's final column, he could no longer consider himself an independent journalist with his new role and conceded his weekly column:
This will be my final column for the Concord Monitor. I've recently accepted a position with the New Hampshire Senate. Readers deserve independent voices, and I'd hope other free-market advocates will take this opportunity to offer their opinions in these pages. [Nashau Telegraph, 12/15/13]
Grant Bosse Joined State Senate Republican Caucus As Director, GOP Congressional Candidate's Campaign As Policy Advisor. According to New Hampshire's WMUR ABC 9, Grant Bosse became the majority caucus director in the New Hampshire State Senate and policy director for congressional GOP candidate Dan Innis. [WMUR.com, 12/4/13]
Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts of the Union Leader to identify articles written by Charles Arlinghaus. To determine funding disclosure, Media Matters searched the papers transcripts along with the term "Josiah Bartlett and Fund!" as well as "Josiah Bartlett and Koch or ALEC." Because the Concord Monitor is not available on Nexis, Media Matters did an extensive search of the Monitor's site to look for mentions of the Josiah Bartlett Center and ALEC or the Koch Brothers. Bosse's articles from the past year from January 8 to December 15, 2013 were analyzed for their contents in order to compare his writing with ALEC sponsored legislation.