Citizens United Sues Colorado Over Alleged First Amendment Violations
Citizens United, the conservative lobbying organization that led the charge behind the eponymous Supreme Court decision, has filed a lawsuit against Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler.
The organization argues that it shouldn’t be required to disclose the financial backers of a film it’s producing about Colorado politics and slated to air shortly before the November election. Called “Rocky Mountain Heist,” the film has been described as investigating Colorado’s evolution from a red to a blue state.
The hour-long film will include “unambiguous references” to liberal politicians like Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall, both of whom are in tight re-election races, according to a petition the group filed with the Secretary of State in May, although it won’t explicitly endorse or oppose any candidate. (RELATED: Citizens United Turns A Camera On Colorado Politics)
Earlier this year, the secretary of state’s office ruled that the film is required to disclose its financiers under state election laws, but in its lawsuit, Citizens United argues that it should have the same First Amendment protections as any other media company, according to the Denver Post.
Citizens United ran the same arguments in regards to a 2008 film about Hillary Clinton it wanted to air shortly before the election, leading to a Supreme Court decision overturning restrictions on independent political contributions by corporations.
“We filed this lawsuit to vindicate Citizens United’s First Amendment right to engage in political expression and media activities on the same terms as other media entities,” lawyer Ted Olson told the Denver Post.
“Colorado’s campaign finance laws impose burdensome reporting and disclosure requirements on Citizens United and other speakers engaged in political discourse in the weeks preceding an election,” Olson continued, “unless the speakers happen to own a newspaper, magazine or radio or television station.”
In a statement to the Post, the Secretary of State’s Office said it stands by its original conclusion that the film is considered to be “electioneering communication” under state law and that the filmmakers are thereby required to disclose their donors.
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