‘Citizen Koch’ shows result of super PACs
A documentary showing the personal and political impacts of the Supreme Court’s decision opening the door for super PACs put its focus on upheaval in Wisconsin.
But it resonated with North Carolinians watching it Thursday at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
Screened in the Carolina Theatre’s Fletcher Hall, “Citizen Koch” was directed by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, who attended the screening and took audience questions afterward. The film covers the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity, which were major funders of the campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
The film shows that after Walker won and took on the unions, local Republicans who voted for him were unhappy with how the Tea Party drove policy. Filmmakers followed Wisconsin Republicans who were state employees and considered themselves conservative, but didn’t like how their party had changed.
One union worker who voted for Walker said, “What I voted for was not what I got.” Another said the GOP “is not my party anymore” and another said the party doesn’t represent the common man as it once did.
Footage also shows the failed Walker recall.
“Citizen Koch” follows former Republican Louisiana governor and Congressman Buddy Roemer, who ran for president in 2012 but did not want super PAC money and limited donation amounts to $100 each. He tried and failed repeatedly to get a place in the many GOP debates, and called money a weapon in politics. Eventually, he left the party and ran as an independent.
The film also takes on voter identification proposals and laws, and the union busting in Michigan campaigned for by Americans for Prosperity.
During the question-and-answer session, filmmaker Lessin said that as the film was ending, she heard a woman behind her say, “They’re already coming for North Carolina.” Lessin mentioned North Carolina businessman Art Pope, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget advisor, who once led the Americans for Prosperity board.
Director Deal said the tenor of political messaging after President Barack Obama was elected quickly turned ugly and vitriolic. Lessin said regardless of whether a candidate wins, the kind of messaging “shapes our conversation.”
One audience member suggested that Lessin and Deal begin filming in Raleigh to cover state government. Lessin said the film’s focus on campaign spending isn’t about party, but who owns the ballot box on both sides of the aisle, as well as the future of labor unions.