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.

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.

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

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 9:03 AM My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. And Then I Found Myself With Someone Like Dad.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.