July 6, 2010

Yeah, I especially enjoyed the part in Citizens United's "Hillary: The Movie" where Obama says Clinton had no diplomatic experience. Thank God he won and she doesn't have anything to do with the State Department, huh?

Anyway, how amazing that not only do corporations get to pour unlimited amounts of money into the political system, they don't even have to disclose it, thanks to this new FEC ruling. Here's hoping some of those famous "Hollywood liberals" start putting some product together to counterbalance the expected flood of similar right-wing tropes:

WASHINGTON — A little-noticed Federal Election Commission ruling that expands the definition of “media" to include a partisan film production group is the latest in a series of actions eroding legislative limits on the influence of money in politics.

“We’re really returning, seemingly inexorably, toward an entirely deregulated system," said Thomas Mann, who studies campaign finance at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “It was a rather breathtaking decision."

The commission voted June 10 to designate the filmmaker Citizens United a “press entity," equating its often highly partisan work — including films attacking Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama — with the work of nightly newscasts.

The result, analysts say, is that the group is not required to disclose its role in sponsoring political projects or activities, or reveal the source of its funding. Thus, it becomes impossible to discern its influence in the political process.

No FEC commissioner would agree to be interviewed, according to a spokeswoman. But in defending the commission’s 4-to-1 vote, the panel’s vice chairwoman, Cynthia Bauerly, said in a statement that traditional images of the press no longer apply.

“We all used to know that ‘press entity’ meant something like ABC News," she said in prepared remarks to the commission. “Today, however, technology has changed nearly everything about media."

The FEC ruling has alarmed advocates for campaign finance rules, who say it sets a troubling precedent.

“If a self-proclaimed political advocacy group that has made some very, very slanted so-called documentaries to influence elections constitutes the press, it’s difficult to imagine what types of political advocacy groups would not qualify," said Paul Ryan, an election law specialist at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog.

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