Monday, January 14, 2008

A legal battle over advertisements for a new documentary about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton illustrates the folly of current campaign-finance laws, says the attorney for the producers of the film, which premieres tonight in Washington.

“Hillary: The Movie” is “a political documentary like Michael Moore or Al Gore has made,” said James Bopp, who went to federal court last week to represent the movie’s producers. Yet the conservative group Citizens United, which produced the Clinton film, must “go to court to get permission to advertise the film… because of McCain-Feingold,” he said.

Known by the names of its chief Senate sponsors, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, the 2002 law that regulates campaign advertising could require the film’s producers to disclose the names of their donors and to insert a disclaimer in ads for the movie.

The disclaimer provision of the law poses a difficulty because some ads for the film are only 10 seconds long, Mr. Bopp told The Washington Times in a telephone interviews.

“Our position is we’re not going to run a 10-second ad that the government requires 4.2 seconds for a disclaimer,” he said.

The requirement that Citizens United, which has released four other documentaries, disclose the names of the Clinton film’s financial backers is also a problem, he said.

“Being subject to harassment … is not theoretical. You could be caught up in the Clinton’s personal-destruction machine,” said Mr. Bopp, adding that he expects the court to rule on the case soon.

Meanwhile, “Hillary: The Movie” is set for a 7 p.m. premiere today at the AMC Loews Georgetown 14 at 3111 K St.

The film features appearances by former Clinton adviser Dick Morris, former FBI agent Gary Aldrich, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Kathleen Willey, the Virginia woman who accused President Clinton of sexual harassment, as well as several conservative commentators including Michael Medved, Bay Buchanan, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter and Tony Blankley, columnist for The Washington Times.

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