Citizens United filed a lawsuit against Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler in federal court in Denver Thursday, the first step in a legal fight that could rewrite the ways states handle election disclosures. The Virginia-based conservative group is finishing a movie called “Rocky Mountain Heist,” about those who have influenced Colorado’s political swing to the left over the past decade, calling out advocacy groups and politicians, likely including Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall, who are in tough races this fall. In June, Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert ruled that the group would need to disclose the movie’s financiers under state campaign laws. The organization contended it deserved the same free-speech protections as traditional media and liberal documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.
Citizens United president David N. Bossie said the organization is fighting on the same principles that won before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 after the Federal Election Commission deemed a movie about Hillary Clinton to be “electioneering communication.”
Bossie said the group would fight the case as far as they needed to, and the group will argue the federal decision should supersede state election laws. “It’s like in the movie ‘The Blues Brothers,’ ” Bossie said. “We’re getting the band back together.”
Citizens United is using the same lawyer as in the first round of redefining campaign finance laws, Ted Olson, who has argued numerous cases before the high court and represented George W. Bush in Bush vs. Gore to end the 2000 recount. Bush picked Olson for U.S. solicitor general during his first term.