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In from LOS ANGELES, California, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is under investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department for taking ailing September 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 Michael Moore, a fierce critic of President Bush. In the past, Micheal 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 September 11 in “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control notified Michael 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 News.

“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 Michael Moore.

In February, Micheal Moore took about 10 ailing workers from the Ground Zero rescue effort in Manhattan for treatment in Cuba, said a person working with the filmmaker on the release of “Sicko.” The person requested anonymity because Micheal Moore’s attorneys had not yet determined how to respond.

Michael Moore, who scolded Bush over the Iraq war during the 2003 Oscar telecast, received the letter Monday, the person said. “Sicko” premieres May 19 at the Cannes Film Festival and debuts in U.S. theaters June 29.

Michael Moore declined to comment, said spokeswoman Lisa Cohen.

After receiving the letter, Michael 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.

Treasury officials declined to answer questions about the letter. “We don’t comment on enforcement actions,” said department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise.

The letter noted that Michael Moore applied October 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.

According to the letter, Michael Moore was given 20 business days to provide OFAC with such information as the date of travel and point of departure; the reason for the Cuba trip and his itinerary there; and the names and addresses of those who accompanied him, along with their reasons for going.

Potential penalties for violating the embargo were not indicated. In 2003, the New York Yankees paid the government $75,000 to settle a dispute that it conducted business in Cuba in violation of the embargo. No specifics were released about that case.

“Sicko” is Michael Moore’s followup to 2004’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” a $100 million hit criticizing the Bush administration over September 11. Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” won the 2002 Oscar for best documentary.

A dissection of the U.S. health-care system, “Sicko” was inspired by a segment on Michael Moore’s TV show “The Awful Truth,” in which he staged a mock funeral outside a health-maintenance organization that had declined a pancreas transplant for a diabetic man. The HMO later relented.

At last September’s Toronto International Film Festival, Michael Moore previewed footage shot for “Sicko,” presenting stories of personal health-care nightmares. One scene showed a woman who was denied payment for an ambulance ride after a head-on collision because it was not preapproved.

Michael Moore’s opponents have accused him of distorting the facts, and his Cuba trip provoked criticism from conservatives including former Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, who assailed the filmmaker in a blog at National Review Online.

“I have no expectation that Michael Moore is going to tell the truth about Cuba or health care,” wrote Thompson, the subject of speculation about a possible presidential run. “I defend his right to do what he does, but Michael Moore’s talent for clever falsehoods has been too well documented.”

The timing of the investigation is reminiscent of the firestorm that preceded the Cannes debut of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which won the festival’s top prize in 2004. The Walt Disney Co. refused to let subsidiary Miramax release the film because of its political content, prompting Miramax bosses Harvey and Bob Weinstein to release “Fahrenheit 9/11” on their own.

The Weinsteins later left Miramax to form the Weinstein Co., which is releasing “Sicko.” They declined to comment on the Treasury investigation, said company spokeswoman Sarah Levinson Rothman.
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Thank you AP News for this report…
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Well Baby Boomers…as you ought know by now, I think Insurance Companies and the so called Health Care that we have here in the U.S. amounts to a bunch of “bottom feeders”…by that I mean many things…scavengers…sharks…scum suckers, just to name a few, that are printable…!

There are conflicting feeling about Michael Moore in my family…each side says the opposite of the other…I do love controversy!

Michael…I say go for it…EXPOSE THEM! But be careful…you have embarrassed a few high ranking officials…LOL Be sure that they will try to get you before they are out of office. In fact they have been laying back and waiting for you…better get you a pair of eyes for the back of your head!

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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