Citizens United wants exception from political ad law

DENVER - Political-advocacy group Citizens United is asking for its upcoming film on Colorado politics to be exempt from state-election finance laws.

Citizens United, the namesake of the 2010 controversial landmark Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate political spending, told a panel from Secretary of State Scott Gessler's office that it plans to release an "expose" documentary on the influence of political groups in Colorado.

"This is a movie about organizations and their impact on public policy," said the group's attorney Michael Boos.

The group plans to release the film shortly before the upcoming November election, containing images of and messages about Colorado politicians, though it will not expressly advocate a position on political races.

For instance, Citizens United says it wants to be able to show images of Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) when it focuses on gun control in the film.

Citizens United also plans to advertise its film in Colorado near election time, which may be the bigger issue behind the decision to be made by Gessler's office.

"Michael Moore made a film and advertised it in Colorado before the 2004 election," said Citizens United president David Bossie. "I didn't agree with the content, but he should be able to do that."

If the group gains status as a news media organization, it will not be required to disclose its donors or file campaign finance information around the launch and promotion of its film.

Other groups vehemently oppose the group's effort, portraying it as a thinly veiled attempt to sway the election while skirting disclosure rules.

"If Citizens United is treated as part of the media just because it regularly puts out ads attacking candidates, then every sleazy attack group in the state will be able to do the same thing," said Luis Toro, who heads Colorado Ethics Watch.

Gessler sat on the panel hearing arguments on the issue, but has delegated the final decision to his deputy, Suzanne Staiert, because he is a gubernatorial candidate.

A decision is expected later this week.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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