Citizens United, the group whose lawsuit opened the door to unlimited political spending by individuals, corporations and unions, has reached a deal with a half dozen television networks to air an hour-long film before Election Day about people who have reversed their support of President Obama.
The conservative production studio announced the agreement on Monday, saying “The Hope and The Change,” a play on Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan, will reach 130 million homes.
The announcement came on the same day that a Washington Post/ABC News poll showed three quarters of voters are concerned about the influence of outside spending on the presidential campaign. The poll indicated 41 percent of voters believe Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is the chief beneficiary of outside spending, while 29 percent believe Obama is.
Restore Our Future, the leading super PAC backing Romney, has raised $89.7 million, compared to $25.5 million for Priorities USA Action, which supports Obama.
Citizens United sued the Federal Election Commission in 2007 for the right to air a film criticizing Hillary Clinton, then a presidential candidate, as a cable video on demand during the 30 days before Democratic primaries in 2008. The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law prohibited corporations from airing “electioneering communications” during the month before a primary and two months before a general election.
In 2010, the Supreme Court issued a broad ruling in the case that limitations on outside campaign spending were unconstitutional. Since then, super PACs and other types of independent groups have collected large sums of money from wealthy individuals, businesses and unions and bought large amounts of advertising time.
The new Citizens United film features 40 Democratic and independent voters from seven swing states who backed Obama four years ago and have been disappointed by his first term. It will premiere Tuesday on HDNet Movies and is licensed to four other cable networks and one broadcast network with stations in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Hawaii.
“It is important to note that these distribution opportunities would have been against the law a mere three years ago,” said the film’s producer, David N. Bossie. “This is why I went to the United States Supreme Court—to fight for the right to produce a political documentary.”Callum Borchers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.