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 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."

On today's

Hugh Hewitt: Rio prepares to host the world.

James Jay Carafano: Easter Seals have long served America's disabled veterans.

Gregory Kane: Praise of Mandela is well-deserved.

Richard Pollock: Advocacy group behind White House Obamacare event is funded by Blue Shield firm that will profit from the program.

Joseph Lawler: The economic week ahead.

Chuck Hoskinson: Ken Cuccinelli tearfully hits GOP Establishment for abandoning him.

In other news

The Washington Post: Budget deal expected this week to avert another shutdown.

The New York Times: U.S., British spies infiltrate World of Warcraft, Second Life.

New York Post: New York approved medical marijuana law 33 years ago, then spaced on it.

USA Today: Tech giants form anti-NSA coalition.

CBS News: Ukraine protestors topple Lenin statue.

ABC News: Food-tech startups aim to replace eggs, chickens.

Righty Playbook

The Weekly Standard: It's back to work time, but who's got the right answer for now.

National Review Online: Yes, they really believe this stuff in MSNBC's alternate universe.

American Thinker: Counter-moves in the American economy.

Bonus must-read

The American Spectator: Obama and Senate Democrats outdo FDR in court-packing.

Lefty Playbook

Talking Points Memo: Louisiana pollster says no Democrats win there.

Mother Jones: Now there's a zombie drone that hunts, kills other drones.

American Prospect: The people's court?

Bonus must-read

New Republic: China is scaring foreign journalists into censoring themselves.