WASHINGTON – A conservative group isn't entitled to a media exemption that would have let it run election-time ads promoting a book that criticizes Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (search), election officials ruled Thursday.
The 4-0 decision affecting Citizens United (search) was one of three by the Federal Election Commission (search) further defining the boundaries of political ad restrictions in the nation's campaign finance law.
The law bans the use of corporate money for ads that clearly identify a federal candidate, air in places where the candidate is on the ballot, and appear within one month of the primary and two months of the general election. It exempts news stories, commentaries or editorials aired on television or radio unless the outlets are owned by political groups, parties or candidates.
Citizens United, which is incorporated, argued it should be able to use the media exemption to run election-time ads for a book called "The Many Faces of John Kerry: Why This Massachusetts Liberal is Wrong for America."
The group wants to run ads for the book, written by its president, David Bossie, and a documentary film on the Democratic candidate and his running mate, John Edwards.
The FEC noted that Citizens United was not the publisher, owner or distributor of Bossie's book, so the group wouldn't be acting as a media entity when advertising it. The group doesn't regularly produce documentaries or pay to broadcast them, so it isn't entitled to the media exemption for the film, the commission said.
Also Thursday, the commission said:
— A Wisconsin auto dealer can continue airing car ads even though its founder and namesake is running for the Senate.
The ban on corporate money for election-time ads mentioning candidates doesn't apply to the Russ Darrow Group (search) because Senate hopeful Russ Darrow Jr. won't appear in its car ads or have any role in making them, the commission said. Darrow is competing in a Republican primary Sept. 14 that will determine who challenges Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in November.
— The conservative Ripon Society (search) can air pre-election ads featuring New York Rep. Sue Kelly if they do not appear in her district. The group, which plans ads promoting GOP efforts to fight terrorism, can use the phrase "Republicans in Congress" as long as the ads aren't coordinated with the Republican Party.