Looks like the Bush administration is trying to use the FCC to stifled dissent. Roll Call reports that the FCC general counsel has issued an advisory that ads after July 31 for the Michael Moore film may violate the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law.
In a draft advisory opinion placed on the FEC’s agenda for today’s meeting, the agency’s general counsel states that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.
The opinion is generated under the new McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which prohibits corporate-funded ads that identify a federal candidate before a primary or general election.
The proscription is broadly defined. Section 100.29 of the federal election regulations defines restricted corporate-funded ads as those that identify a candidate by his “name, nickname, photograph or drawing” or make it “otherwise apparent through an unambiguous reference.”
Should the six members of the FEC vote to approve the counsel’s opinion, it could put a serious crimp on Moore’s promotion efforts. The flavor of the movie was encapsulated by a recent review in The Boston Globe as “the case against George W. Bush, a fat compendium of previously reported crimes, errors, sins, and grievances delivered in the director’s patented tone of vaudevillian social outrage.”
The FEC ruling may also affect promotion of a slew of other upcoming political documentaries and films, such as “Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War,” which opens in August, “The Corporation,” about democratic institutions being subsumed by the corporate agenda, or “Silver City,” a recently finished film by John Sayles that criticizes the Bush administration.
Another film, “The Hunting of the President,” which investigates whether Bill Clinton was the victim of a vast conspiracy, could be subject to regulations if it mentions Bush or members of Congress in its ads.
Perhaps working in tandem, one of the GOP 527 groups is planning a complaint to the Federal Elections Commission that Moore’s film violates the law.
David Bossie, the president of Citizens United, plans to allege that “Fahrenheit 9/11” violates federal election law, arguing that “Moore has publicly indicated his goal is to impact this election season.”
Bossie had planned to file a complaint with the FEC yesterday but postponed action because his lawyers want to review it at the last minute, said Summer Stitz, a spokeswoman for Bossie’s group.
“I don’t think much of Michael Moore or his two-hour political advertisement — that’s all it is,” Bossie said. “He uses all of these words to make it look like he makes documentaries, but it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Documentaries tend to be fact-based.”
Don’t you love it, Republicans worrying about fact-based anything.
Meanwhile, MoveOn, the liberal advocacy group, says it has organized more than 1,500 “Turn-Up-the-Heat” parties across the nation for Monday night. They will include a conference call with Moore. To find a party near you, go here.