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Federal Election Commission opts out of greenlighting John Kerry film

The ex-candidate sought panel's OK to invest campaign funds in a documentary on veterans.

June 26, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — It's not a wrap yet on Sen. John Kerry's plans to become a movie producer.

The Federal Election Commission failed to reach a decision Thursday on the Massachusetts Democrat's request to use $300,000 from his campaign funds to invest in a documentary on injured Iraq war veterans.

The panel will not issue an advisory opinion on it. "The FEC is now done considering this request," said FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram.

A major issue was whether Kerry's proposal should be considered an investment of campaign money, which is allowed, or his campaign operating a business. Campaigns cannot operate businesses.

Kerry attorney Marc Elias said he didn't know whether Kerry would proceed with his movie plans without an FEC advisory opinion to guide him.

The 2004 presidential nominee wants to be an executive producer for a movie tentatively titled "Keeping Faith." Kerry's campaign committee could get back its entire $300,000 investment plus as much as 20%, according to a March 16 letter he sent to the FEC outlining his plans.

Kerry's efforts would include helping line up investors and obtaining interview subjects for the film.

A decorated Vietnam War vet who served as a Navy swift boat commander, Kerry long has championed veterans' causes. Friends who are involved in veterans' issues him asked him several months ago to become an executive producer of the movie.

The film's director and producer is George Butler, a longtime Kerry friend. Butler had success with his 1977 documentary, "Pumping Iron," about bodybuilders, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Butler also made "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," which was released during Kerry's White House run against President George W. Bush.

The movie chronicled Kerry's military career as well as his efforts leading veterans who protested the Vietnam War after coming home.

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