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Bush backers urge federal probe of ''Fahrenheit'' ads

Bush backers urge federal probe of ”Fahrenheit” ads — Conservative group claims that ads mentioning the president violate campaign finance laws

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It’s no surprise that the Bush administration isn’t fond of Michael Moore’s ”Fahrenheit 9/11,” but could the movie’s advertising actually run afoul of the federal government? One conservative activist group thinks so. On Thursday, Citizens United filed a brief with the Federal Election Commission, arguing that the new McCain-Feingold campaign finance law prohibits the airing of corporate-funded commericials that include images of or references to candidates for federal offices within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.

According to the group’s reading of the law, that means Moore and his distributors would have to scrap any ads featuring the film’s subject, President Bush, after July 31, that is, 30 days before the Republican National Convention that will nominate Bush for reelection. Citizens United also argued that the law bars the use of foreign money for such ads and noted that Lions Gate, one of the film’s distributors, is a Canadian company.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, an FEC source said it was doubtful that the commission would actually bar ”Fahrenheit” advertising because the movie may fall under a media exemption to the law.

Moore apparently sees Citizens United’s complaint as a ploy to censor his movie that will only backfire by giving it more attention. In a tongue-in-cheek statement, the director said, ”I am deeply concerned about whether or not the FEC will think I paid Citizens United to raise these issues regarding ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.’ How else can you explain the millions of dollars of free publicity this right-wing group has given the movie? I plan on sending them a very nice holiday card this year.”