Conservative lobby Citizens United will not get to buy local broadcast and cable ad time to promote or air a documentary attacking the Democratic presidential ticket.
The Federal Election Commission said Friday that the group did not qualify for a press exemption from the campaign finance law prohibiting corporations, including nonprofits like Citizens United, from running ads that mention or depict federal candidates within 60 days of a general election.
The commission pointed out that, to qualify, the ads would have to be part of a "news story, commentary or editorial," and would have to come from a group "acting as a media entity." They weren't, and it wasn't, the commission concluded, so the communication would be prohibited electioneering campaigning by a corporation.
The degree to which the campaign finance rules target the electronic media was apparent in the commission's advice to the group. "Citizen's United may produce a documentary on any subject and advertise and disseminate the documentary through direct mail, print advertising, videocassette and DVD sales, the Internet, and in theaters without being affected by the electioneering communication provision."