Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is seeking permission from both the Federal Election Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee to invest $300,000 in campaign funds in a documentary film on injured Iraq War veterans.
Under a proposed agreement with White Mountain Films, the company that would make the documentary, Kerry would serve as executive producer for the film. Kerry would not be paid. The filmmaker, George Butler, is best known for making “Pumping Iron,” a documentary about bodybuilding that helped launch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career. Butler also produced a 2004 documentary on John Kerry’s life story.
Among Kerry’s duties for the film would be “making introductions with respect to potential investors” for the documentary, which is tentatively entitled “Keeping Faith.”
Kerry’s request is unprecedented for a sitting senator, although Marc Elias, Kerry’s campaign lawyer, noted in his “advisory opinion request” to the FEC that the commission has given campaign committees “wide discretion in deciding how to spend their funds.”
Kerry’s campaign would be guaranteed a 20 percent return on its investment if the documentary is made, according to the campaign committee’s request with the FEC. Neither Kerry nor his campaign committee will have any rights to the film itself.
White Mountain Films estimates that it will cost $3 million to $5 million to produce the documentary.
“Senator Kerry was approached by friends in the veterans community to be part of a project that sheds light on an often overlooked topic, namely the brave men and women who have sustained debilitating injuries in Iraq," said Whitney Smith, a Kerry spokeswoman.
"As this opportunity emerged, his first step was straight to the Ethics committee to see if his participation would violate any regulations. The health and well being of our veterans is a top priority for Senator Kerry, but he plans to wait for a response from Ethics before taking on any part of this project.”