Treasury Department goes after Michael Moore for "Sicko" Cuba travel
I once spent a few weeks working on a film in Cuba. It was a cultural exchange, which is one of the exceptions to the Cold War travel ban, but after the shoot the producers were all individually audited by the IRS nonetheless -- quite the statistical anomaly.
That film, unlike "Sicko," Michael Moore's upcoming exposÃƒÂ© of the healthcare business, wasn't political, and certainly didn't tweak the nipples of the most profitable industry in America -- one with arguably the most powerful lobbying arm in DC. Which is why this story doesn't surprise me much ...
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is under investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department for taking ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers to Cuba for a segment in his upcoming health-care documentary "Sicko," The Associated Press has learned.
The investigation provides another contentious lead-in for a provocative film by Moore, a fierce critic of President Bush. In the past, Moore's adversaries have fanned publicity that helped the filmmaker create a new brand of opinionated blockbuster documentary.
"Sicko" promises to take the health-care industry to task the way Moore confronted America's passion for guns in "Bowling for Columbine" and skewered Bush over his handling of Sept. 11 in "Fahrenheit 9/11."
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control notified Moore in a letter dated May 2 that it was conducting a civil investigation for possible violations of the U.S. trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba. A copy of the letter was obtained Tuesday by the AP.
"This office has no record that a specific license was issued authorizing you to engage in travel-related transactions involving Cuba," Dale Thompson, OFAC chief of general investigations and field operations, wrote in the letter to Moore. [...]
After receiving the letter, Moore arranged to place a copy of the film in a "safe house" outside the country to protect it from government interference, said the person working on the release of the film. [...]That last bit is pure Michael Moore: brilliant marketing.
The letter noted that Moore applied Oct. 12, 2006, for permission to go to Cuba "but no determination had been made by OFAC." Moore sought permission to travel there under a provision for full-time journalists, the letter said.I hope Moore's taxes are in order.