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FEC: Citizens United conservative group doesn't have to disclose donors

By Carol D. Leonnig
The conservative political group Citizens United has won a ruling from federal election authorities that it does not need to disclose the donors that finance its political documentaries.

Citizens United successfully argued to the Federal Elections Commission that because it primarily produces films, it should be considered a media organization and be exempted from disclosure requirements for political activist groups.

Citizens United has become a familiar name in Washington and beyond since winning won a landmark Supreme Court ruling in January. The court lifted a longtime ban on corporate funding of political campaign ads and ruled that companies should be allowed to spend unlimited dollars advocating their positions and exercising their free speech rights.

It is run by former Whitewater investigator David Bossie, who formed the group in part to provide a conservative answer to far-left liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. The group's most famous product is "Hillary, the Movie," a highly critical documentary focused on then Sen. Hillary Clinton and Clinton administration scandals.

In his letter to the FEC, Citizens United attorney Olson said the nonprofit group has produced and distributed 12 documentary films on a variety of subjects since 2004, including the 2008 Clinton film, which formed the heart of the recent Supreme Court case. Citizens United has spent about 25 percent of its budget on films over the past six years and has been accredited as a member of the "press" when filming some news events, Olson added.

By Carol D. Leonnig  |  June 10, 2010; 3:51 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

It doesn't matter to Republicans what our election systems are based on. Just win at any cost. Funny, this mentality of the Tea Party about the "people taking back [our] country" goes against everything this ruling stands for because companies are not. But once again, we see the hypocrisy from the far right. This DOES get sickening after awhile.

Posted by: gr8bigguy | June 14, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

The FEC has made, what I believe, to be a big mistake.
Citizens United may be a media Company but it gave up this status when it started taking political sides. It is equal to a church having tax exemption status until it issues statements or speeches favoring one candidate over another. It then loses its tax exemption.
The same condition should apply to a film making company which makes a film pushing one party's candidate or agenda over the other's. If they have become political
in their agenda, then they are no longer under the protection of not having to disclose their backers.

Posted by: afed27 | June 11, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The FEC has made, what I believe, to be a big mistake.
Citizens United may be a media Company but it gave up this status when it started taking political sides. It is equal to a church having tax exemption status until it issues statements or speeches favoring one candidate over another. It then loses its tax exemption.
The same condition should apply to a film making company which makes a film pushing one party's candidate or agenda over the other's. If they have become political
in their agenda, then they are no longer under the protection of not having to disclose their backers.

Posted by: afed27 | June 11, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Citizens United was founded by Floyd Brown. It was around long before Michael Moore got much attention.

Posted by: phil15 | June 11, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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