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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics

"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.

Slate's list of the 25 Americans who combine inventive genius and practicality—our best real-world problem solvers. Read more about how we chose them.

Advertisement

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.

Check out the rest of our government Top Right:

Gen. James Mattis, USMC

Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics, MIT

Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City transportation commissioner

Michael Crow, president, Arizona State University

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.