Joey Bunch --- The Denver Post
Citizens United, the conservative group behind the new film "Rocky Mountain Heist," can run ads promoting the movie, but still risk answering for it in court, the Colorado Secretary of State's Office said.
Any person or group could file a complaint alleging the advertisements are election-time attack ads, not a means of reporting news, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert told Citizens United in an advisory opinion.
Citizens United announced Sunday it intends to spend $170,000 on TV ads and another $40,000 for online promotions between now and the Nov. 4 election.
"We are glad that the Secretary of State's Office has recognized Citizens United as a media entity and that advertisements for our film 'Rocky Mountain Heist' will be exempt from reporting and disclosure requirements just as advertisements made by The Denver Post or any other media entity would be," the organization's president, David N. Bossie, said in a statement.
The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Citizens United should have the same protections as traditional media, meaning the Virginia-based non-profit would not have to disclose the donors who paid for the movie.
The court, however, said the Secretary of State's Office could determine if ads that specifically name a candidate up for election qualify as electioneering, which would require disclosure.