FEC records: Obama campaign paid $345,000 for Guggenheim film biopic

Jason Howerton Contributor
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Records filed by Obama for America with the Federal Election Commission indicate that the president’s re-election campaign shelled out at least $345,353 to commission “The Road We’ve Traveled,” a 17-minute campaign documentary by Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim, set for release Thursday. The price comes out to more than $20,300 per minute.

Two separate payments were made to “Guggenheim Short Film” in Washington, D.C. — one for $162,834 and another for approximately $182,159 — according to FEC documents.

Katie Hogan, deputy press secretary for the Obama campaign, refused to provide any additional information about the documentary’s funding stream or whether a public relations firm was authorized to speak about the film project.

It is likely that there are additional costs associated with the documentary, such as advertising and promotional expenses, but Obama for America also would not comment on that possibility.

Hogan did tell The Daily Caller on Wednesday that Guggenheim had approached the Obama campaign and asked if there was anything he could do to help with President Obama’s re-election bid.

Hogan also wouldn’t say whether payments to Tom Hanks, who narrated the film, were included in the media production costs disclosed to the FEC. Messages left with the agency representing Hanks — Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles — were not immediately returned.

Following its release, “The Road We’ve Traveled” will be posted on the Obama for America campaign website. Hogan told TheDC there are no plans to screen the film at a large number of commercial locations, but “that could change.”

The film itself appears to focus on the president’s response to economic turmoil, his health care overhaul and the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. The Guggenheim production has faced criticism recently for its failure to include President Obama’s shortfalls along with his accomplishments.

The Obama campaign’s FEC filings raised additional questions, however, since the address listed on the campaign finance disclosures for “Guggenheim Short Film” is actually the home of Guggenheim Productions, Inc. — owned and operated by Guggenheim’s sister, Grace. (RELATED: Full coverage of the Obama presidency)

Grace Guggenheim told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that Obama for America wrongfully sent her company a “Form 1099″ tax declaration in connection with the payments to her brother. She said her own production company did not receive payments and were not involved in any aspect of the Obama documentary.

“This project is for my brother, Davis Guggenheim,” she explained.

Messages left for Davis Guggenheim and Obama for America seeking clarification on the mix-up were not returned.

In a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, the film producer surprised even the left-leaning host with his assessment of Obama’s time in office.

When Morgan asked about which negative aspects of Obama’s presidency were included in his documentary, Guggenheim argued that there were in fact too many accomplishments to fit into the 17-minute film.

“Oh, come off it,” the CNN host replied. “You can’t say that with a straight face.”

Guggenheim later clarified, “I think there are negatives, in the sense that the challenges when you are trying to pass health care in a really toxic environment — there are negatives in terms of the opposition he’s had.”

Asked where he finds fault with Obama, personally, Guggenheim said, “You know, I don’t.”

Guggenheim donated $2,300 to Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008 and has donated $500 so far during the 2012 election cycle, according to the FEC. The maximum permissible donation from an individual is $2,500.

Watch Davis Guggenheim on CNN with Piers Morgan: 

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