FEC agrees Citizens United is media so doesn’t have to disclose donors

The Federal Elections Commission ruled that the conservative Citizens United was a media organization and as such did not have to disclose the donors behind their documentaries. -db

The Washington Post
June 9, 2010
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.

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