David Bossie: How Citizens United changed the American political campaign.

The most innovative and practical thinkers of our time.
Aug. 9 2011 7:00 AM

David Bossie, President and Chairman, Citizens United

How Citizens United changed the American political campaign.

David Bossie
David Bossie

In the Clinton years, when he was barely in his 30s, David Bossie's political career looked to be over. He'd graduated from political operative to Hill staffer, investigating Bill Clinton's scandals for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, then chaired by Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. As those stories picked up steam in 1998, Democrats honed in on the edits of transcripts coming out of the committee's investigations, complaining that they made the targets look worse than they already did.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

"The White House and Democrat minority are using this issue to attack you and the committee," Bossie told his boss in May 1998. "It is for this reason and with deep regret I offer you my resignation." When George W. Bush and the Republicans took power, Bossie was stuck outside looking in, running a small activist group called Citizens United.

It worked out in the end. After seeing the success liberals had with agitprop documentaries such as Fahrenheit 9/11, Citizens United started producing its own films. In 2008 it planned to unveil Hillary: The Movie, a feature-length jeremiad against the then-presidential candidate. The FEC, calling it a campaign ad, prohibited Bossie from marketing. He sued, and eventually he got to declare victory in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the decision that unraveled most of the last decade's campaign finance law.

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Now, Bossie makes at least three movies a year, cut together in CU's own studio near Capitol Hill. He's got ambitions of making conservative-themed dramas, too. And political campaigns are more flush with cash and ads than ever before. All of this after he was supposed to be finished in Washington.

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