Citizen Koch is a feature length documentary about the influence of money in US politics. Set against the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, the film explores the consequences for democracy when private interests determine who is elected to deliver public good.
From the Oscar-nominated team that made Trouble the Water comes Citizen Koch, a story about money, power and democracy. Citizen Koch is a feature length documentary about the influence of money in US electoral politics. Set against the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United v. FEC and the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, the film explores the consequences for democracy when private interests determine who is elected to deliver public good. Emboldened by the high court's ruling that allows unlimited election spending by corporations and labor unions, special interests on both sides of the aisle are spending unprecedented sums to influence voters in national, state and local races across the country. At the film's heart is the political drama in Wisconsin that began in January 2011 after newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker suspended collective bargaining rights for public sector union members, sparking massive protests and, ultimately, recall elections. The more than $50 million subsequently spent by outside groups to influence voters is largely untraceable. In rural Ripon, birthplace of the GOP, we meet lifelong Republicans as special interest money floods their state, and follow them as they ultimately break ranks with their party. Political operatives from both parties called Wisconsin the first battleground of the 2012 Presidential race, which was the costliest election of all time. We follow little-known candidate Buddy Roemer, a former Governor and Congressman from Louisiana, into the Republican Primary season -- from New Hampshire to Wisconsin, from tea party rallies to town halls. Buddy is the one Republican in the field refusing any donations over $100 and the only candidate to receive Federal matching funds. He is outspent by his opponents and their Superpacs, and shut out of the debates. Buddy's journey reveals a system overwhelmingly weighted in favor of the candidates who take the money, and lots of it - 2013 Republicans and Democrats alike. Citizen Koch emphasizes the positive engagement of its characters with democracy with intimate verité scenes intercut with big picture investigative exposé. As it connects the dots linking the wealthiest Americans and their paid lobbyists and front groups, to the manipulation of legislators, the courts, the media and the electoral process, the film will seek an answer to the guiding question: Who really has the power in our American Democracy--the corporations or the people? Slated for completion in 2012, the Citizen Koch team will engage with dozens of organizations nationwide to see that the film helps fuel a trans-partisan social movement demanding transparency in Washington, DC, in the electoral process, and in delivering urgently needed change.