Now showing: 'Hillary: The Movie' and election-law gripes
The film's creators dispute a finding that election rules apply to their promotional ads. Next stop: the Supreme Court.
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The First Amendment lawyer is a prominent opponent of the 2002 campaign-finance reform law cosponsored by Sens. John McCain (R) of Arizona and Russ Feingold (D) of Wisconsin. Last year, Bopp persuaded a majority of justices to scale back rules in the McCain-Feingold law governing "issue advertising." Analysts see the latest lawsuit as a bid to extend that holding.Skip to next paragraph
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"The law is clearly being tested, and I think [Bopp's] assumption is that this court now is going to be more sympathetic to these challenges," says Washington lawyer Robert Bauer, an election law expert. But it is not clear, Mr. Bauer adds, that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case.
The market is now
Time is short, according to Mr. Bossie. The market for a political documentary is directly linked to elections, he says, and that market disappears when the elections are over. "We are harmed every minute the court isn't hearing this case," he says.
The three ads in question can be viewed on www.hillarythemovie.com. One of the 10-second ads depicts an interview with conservative firebrand Ann Coulter.
The narrator speaks: "First a kind word about Hillary Clinton."
Ms. Coulter quips: "She looks good in a pants suit."
The narrator: "Now a movie about everything else." The screen flashes photos of Senator Clinton.
The narrator: " 'Hillary: The Movie,' on DVD now."
Under FEC rules, the movie producers must include a four-second disclaimer stating that the message was paid for by Citizens United and is not affiliated with any candidate or candidate's committee.
"What that does is it tells the people watching that it is a political ad," says Bossie, who is also president of Citizens United. But the ads aren't about politics, he says. Rather, they are about trying to drum up business for a movie.
The three-judge panel watched the 90-minute film and studied its 73-page script. The judges concluded: "The Movie is susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world, and that viewers should vote against her."
Bossie defends his work. "Our job is to inform and educate the American people and that is what we do in this film," he says.
A former congressional investigator, Bossie says his efforts were partly inspired by "Fahrenheit 9/11." But he says he is more faithful to facts than was Mr. Moore. "Documentaries are a new art form for politics. It is a new delivery device for political issues," Bossie says. "I recognized that in 2004 when Michael Moore's film had enormous impact. I didn't like its impact, I didn't agree with the film … however, I recognized the power of film."
How did 'Fahrenheit 9/11' advertise?
Ads for "Fahrenheit 9/11" ran into similar problems at the FEC. Moore removed any mention of Mr. Bush from ads airing close to the election to avoid running afoul of the law. "That's impossible for Citizens United because the name of the movie is 'Hillary: The Movie,' " says Bopp. "You can't say [in an ad], 'Go see a movie, we just can't say the name of it.' "
"We want to fight this [Supreme Court case] and win this battle," Bossie says, "because if Hillary Clinton is not the Democratic nominee we will have an Obama movie out this summer."
Asked about Sen. Barack Obama's squeaky-clean image, Bossie laughs. "Don't worry, I'll have plenty to make a movie."