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FEC Rules Obama's Oprah Appearance Didn't Violate Rules


Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and wife Michelle held a rally with Oprah Winfrey at Williams-Brice Stadium at UNC in December 2007. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

By Dan Eggen
Oprah is in the clear: Inviting Barack Obama onto her show last year did not amount to a political donation to the candidate, the Federal Election Commission has ruled.

William Lee Stotts of Cordova, Tenn., filed a complaint last October alleging that Obama's appearance on Oprah Winfrey's popular afternoon show during the Democratic primaries amounted to an unlawful campaign contribution that gave him an "an unfair advantage over the other candidates, both Republican and Democrat, who were deprived such an opportunity."

But in a decision posted to its website yesterday, FEC lawyers determined that Winfrey's afternoon show "engages in activities traditionally associated with media entities" and therefore is subject to a "media exemption" that excludes news stories, show appearances and the like from campaign finance laws. FEC attorneys also noted that Winfrey "was not a candidate" and that her show "is not owned or controlled by a political party or candidate."

The commission notified ABC and Harpo Inc., Winfrey's production company, that it was dismissing the complaint. The filing was first noted by Roll Call.

Stotts, a self-described "Reagan Conservative," wrote in his complaint that the appearance on Winfrey's show amounted to a $120,000 contribution to Obama, although it is unclear how he arrived at that estimate. Stotts misspells Winfrey's name as "Ophra" throughout the two-page complaint.

"If we as Americans are to have a free and unfettered election, then Hollywood persona, money, talent and time must be kept out of the mix or at least to a bare minimum, and there [sic] vote should weigh no more than mine," Stotts wrote.

Winfrey's show is actually based in Chicago rather than Hollywood, and is one of the most powerful forces on television. Winfrey was an early and avid supporter of Obama's, and made appearances on his behalf during the campaign.

Posted at 2:54 PM ET on Apr 14, 2009  | Category:  The Green Zone
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Comments

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William Lee and his complaint is the most blatant sign that "A dying party catches at a straw."

Its painful to think that the GOP is harvesting the likes of these to make a name for themselves. When did 'common sense' take a 'leave' among Republicans? Its obvious, that Oprah is not a politician, holds no public office and can use her show to invite or NOT invite as she sees fit. The amount in "campaign donation" downright ridiculous.

If the GOP can make it back in 2012, then we have all have something to think about. Where is there strategy? If there is anyone with some smarts hanging around, will the very best among them please "STAND"!
vernasmith.com

Posted by: Victoria5 | April 15, 2009 7:19 AM

Stotts, a self-described "Reagan Conservative, wrote If we as Americans are to have a free and unfettered election, then Hollywood persona, money, talent and time must be kept out of the mix or at least to a bare minimum, and there [sic] vote should weigh no more than mine," Stotts wrote. Reagan was a B movie actor from Hollywood who accused people of being a communist during the McCarthy hearings. These people are dumb asses! Reagan was a piece of excrement.

Posted by: jtxr | April 14, 2009 5:08 PM

This from the same group of idiots who claim President Obama didn't produce a "legal" birth certificate. Keep it up and we'll get to 70 Democratic Senators and get something done.

Posted by: NotBubba | April 14, 2009 4:09 PM

What a feckless stupid and brainlessly incompetent suit over nonsense. Typical paranoid Republican hogwash. Seems like their standard enemy of the day tirade continues.

Posted by: ATLGuy | April 14, 2009 4:00 PM

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